Amazon EC2 Container Service
Developer Guide (API Version 2014-11-13)

What is Amazon EC2 Container Service?

Amazon EC2 Container Service (Amazon ECS) is a highly scalable, fast, container management service that makes it easy to run, stop, and manage Docker containers on a cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon ECS lets you launch and stop container-enabled applications with simple API calls, allows you to get the state of your cluster from a centralized service, and gives you access to many familiar Amazon EC2 features.

You can use Amazon ECS to schedule the placement of containers across your cluster based on your resource needs, isolation policies, and availability requirements. Amazon ECS eliminates the need for you to operate your own cluster management and configuration management systems or worry about scaling your management infrastructure.

Components of Amazon ECS

Amazon ECS contains the following components:


A logical grouping of container instances that you can place tasks on. For more information, see Amazon ECS Clusters.

Container instance

An Amazon EC2 instance that is running the Amazon ECS agent and has been registered into a cluster. For more information, see Amazon ECS Container Instances.

Task definition

A description of an application that contains one or more container definitions. For more information, see Amazon ECS Task Definitions.


The method used for placing tasks on container instances. For more information about the different scheduling options available in Amazon ECS, see Scheduling Amazon ECS Tasks.


An Amazon ECS service allows you to run and maintain a specified number of instances of a task definition simultaneously. For more information, see Services.


An instantiation of a task definition that is running on a container instance.


A Linux container that was created as part of a task.

How to Get Started with Amazon ECS

To use Amazon ECS, you need to be set up to launch Amazon EC2 instances into your clusters. You can also optionally install the AWS Command Line Interface to use Amazon ECS. For more information, see Setting Up with Amazon ECS.

After you are set up, you are ready to complete the Getting Started with Amazon ECS tutorial.