Managed Kubernetes Comparison: EKS vs GKE

Kubernetes is changing the technology space as it is becoming increasingly prominent in various industries and environments. Kubernetes can now be found in on-premises data centers, cloud environments, edge solutions, and even space.

As a container coordination system, Kubernetes automatically manages the availability and scalability of containerized applications. Its architecture consists of different levels that form what is known as the block. This cluster can be implemented (or deployed) in a number of ways, including adopting the CNCF-certified and managed Kubernetes cluster.

This article explores and contrasts two of the most popular hosted suites: Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS) and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). You’ll compare tools looking at ease of setup and management, compatibility with Kubernetes release versions, government cloud support, support for hybrid cloud models, cost, and developer community adoption.

Managed Kubernetes Solution Overview

A managed Kubernetes solution includes a third party, such as a cloud vendor, that takes on some of the overall responsibility for the group’s setup, configuration, support, and operations. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), Azure Kubernetes Service, and IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service are examples of managed Kubernetes clusters.

Managed Kubernetes solutions are useful for software teams that want to focus on developing, deploying, and optimizing workloads. The process of managing and configuring groups is complex, time-consuming, and requires ingenious Kubernetes management, especially for production environments.

GKE Overview

Let’s take a look at the qualities your organization should consider before choosing GKE as your hosted group solution:

Cluster configurations

GKE has two group configuration options (or modes, as they are called): Standard and Autopilot.

  • Standard Mode: This mode allows software teams to manage the basic infrastructure (node ​​configurations) for their clusters.

GKE is in standard mode.

  • Autopilot mode: This mode provides software teams with a hands-off experience in the Kubernetes cluster. GKE manages provisioning and optimization for the group and its groups of nodes.

GKE is in autopilot mode.

Setup and Configuration Management

Cluster setup and configuration can be a laborious and time-consuming process. In a cloud environment, you must also understand the topology of networks as they form the backbone of cluster deployments.

For teams and operators looking for a solution with minimal operational burden, GKE has the automated capabilities you are looking for. This includes automated health checks and fixes on nodes, as well as automatic cluster and nodes upgrades for new release releases.

service network

Software teams that deploy applications based on microservice architectures are quickly discovering that the capabilities of the Kubernetes service level are inadequate in a number of ways.

Service networks are dedicated infrastructure layers that address network and security issues at the application service level and help automate large, complex workloads.

GKE comes with Istio installed by default. Istio is an open source service network application that can help organizations secure large and critical workloads.

Kubernetes Releases and Upgrades

Compared to EKS, GKE offers a variety of release versions depending on which release channel you select (fixed, normal, or express). The Express channel includes the latest version of Kubernetes (version 1.22 at the time of this post).

GKE also has automatic upgrade capabilities for both groups and nodes in standard group and autopilot modes.

No government cloud support

Google does not offer a government cloud solution like AWS for hosted groups. Any software solutions that require a security posture, regulation, and rigor must be developed by government agencies based on your standard regional offerings.

Exclusively for Cloud VMs

The majority of organizations prefer the hybrid model over other cloud strategies; However, GKE only offers block architecture models that consist of virtual machines (VMs) in a cloud environment.

For organizations looking to distribute their workloads between nodes in on-premises data centers and the cloud, EKS will be more suitable.

Conditional Service Level Agreement (SLA)

When utilizing a single area group, GKE is the most cost-effective solution, as there are no costs involved in managing the control level; However, this type of solution only offers a Service Level Agreement (SLA) if you choose a regional group solution, which costs a dime an hour to manage the control level.

EKS offers 99.95 percent SLA coverage, while GKE only offers 99.5 percent for its area groups and 99.95 percent for its regional groups.

CLI support

GKE CLI is a submodule of the official GCP CLI (gcloud). Once a user has installed and authenticated gcloud with gcloud init, they can continue to perform lifecycle activities on their GKE clusters.


GKE groups can be fired in either standard mode or autopilot mode. Both modes have an hourly fee of ten cents per set after the free tier.

From a pricing perspective, GKE differs from EKS in that it has a free tier with monthly credits, which, if applied to a single area group or autopilot group, will fully cover the operational costs involved in operating the group.

Use cases

Based on the characteristics described above, GKE works well in the following scenarios:

  • Minimal management overhead.
  • High degree of automation.
  • Extensive support for Kubernetes versions (including the latest versions option).
  • Cost effective model for small gatherings.
  • Turnkey service network integration (with Istio).

EKS . Overview

Now let’s take a look at EKS and the factors to consider before using a hosted cluster solution.

Cluster configurations

EKS has three cluster configuration options to launch or deploy a managed Kubernetes cluster on AWS. These three configurations are Managed Node Groups, Self Managed Nodes, and Fargate.

Managed Node Groups

Run Configuration automates provisioning and lifecycle management of an EC2 worker contract for your EKS cluster. In this mode, AWS manages the running and updating of the EKS AMI on your nodes, applying labels to nodes resources and draining nodes.

Self-managed employment contract

As the name implies, this option gives teams and operators the most flexibility to configure and manage nodes. It is a DIY option of various launch configurations.

You can either run automatic scaling groups or individual EC2 instances and register them as working nodes in your EKS cluster. This approach requires that all underlying nodes have the same instance type, the same Amazon Machine Image (AMI), and the same IAM role for the Amazon EKS node.

Servantless Worker Contract with Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless engine that allows you to focus on optimizing your container workloads while provisioning and configuring your container running infrastructure.

EKS anywhere

Companies recognize the cloud as a great enabler and use it to fulfill their needs along with their on-premises data centers.

Amazon EKS recently launched Amazon EKS Anywhere, which enables companies to deploy Kubernetes clusters on their own infrastructure (using VMware vSphere) while still being supported by automated cluster management in AWS.

This deployment supports the hybrid cloud model, which in turn enables companies to have operational consistency in workloads, both on-premises and in the cloud. At this time, EKS does not offer the option to use bare metal nodes, but AWS has stated that this feature is expected in 2022.

Integration with AWS Ecosystem

For years, AWS has been the leading provider of cloud computing services. EKS can easily integrate with other AWS services, allowing organizations to use other cloud computing resources that meet their requirements. If your company’s cloud strategy consists of resources in the AWS landscape, your Kubernetes workloads can be seamlessly integrated with EKS.

Developer community

EKS has an extensive developer community with the highest adoption and usage rate among the cluster solutions managed by Kubernetes. Because of the complex challenges involved in configuring and optimizing Kubernetes, this community offers you a great deal of value as it can support the architecture around common use cases, form a knowledge base for you to query as you encounter issues, and provide examples from others using similar technologies.

Government Cloud Solution

AWS has a government cloud solution that enables you to run sensitive workloads securely while meeting relevant compliance requirements. As a result, the power of Kubernetes in the AWS ecosystem can be used to support operations that fit this standard.

Setup and Configuration Management

Compared to GKE, operation of the EKS from the console requires additional manual steps and configuration in order to save mass. This requires knowledge and competency from software teams to understand the core networking components of AWS and how they affect the pool to be provisioned.

Furthermore, components such as Calico CNI, as well as the AWS VPC CNI upgrade must be done manually, and EKS does not support automatic node health repair checks.

Kubernetes Releases and Upgrades

EKS supports three or more minor versions of Kubernetes, not including the latest Kubernetes version. Additionally, when using EKS, Kubernetes version upgrades must be done manually.

For software teams that like to stay on top of the latest security patches as well as work with the latest features, the limited options that EKS offers can make meeting certain requirements difficult.

CLI support

Similar to GKE, EKS has full CLI support in the form of a submodule of the official AWS CLI tool. When a developer configures their AWS profile (which has the correct permissions) using the CLI, they can continue to perform operations on their EKS suite.

The local Kube config file can be updated to contain the credentials for a Kubernetes cluster API endpoint using the following command:

aws eks update-kubeconfig --region <region> --name <cluster-name>

In addition, the Weaveworks team has produced an EKS CLI tool called eksctl which is used to implement and manage the lifecycle of EKS clusters in the form of infrastructure as a code.


Amazon EKS charges $0.10 per hour, which is a fee based on the management of the control level. No additional fees are incurred based on the standard rates for other AWS resources (eg, EC2 instances of a worker contract).

When running Amazon EKS on an AWS Fargate (serverless drive), the overhead (outside of the control plane clock rate) is calculated based on memory and vCPU usage of the underlying resources used to run container workloads.

Unlike GKE, AWS does not offer a free, limited level service for EKS.

Use cases

Based on the characteristics described above, EKS works well in the following scenarios:

  • Running workloads in a hybrid cloud model.
  • Integrate workloads with the AWS ecosystem.
  • Support required from a large community of practitioners.
  • Run workloads in a dedicated government cloud environment.


By design, managed Kubernetes solutions such as EKS and GKE reduce the operational expenses and complexities of managing a Kubernetes cluster. Each solution has its own set of pros and cons that organizations must consider against their own needs and workload requirements.


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