KOPS on EC2 vs EKS – Overview

Kubernetes (k8s) ecosystem is being adapted by many teams and organizations heavily. The ease of use and driving with immutable architecture ate the main reasons behind choosing k8s. There are many approaches to deploying/maintaining k8s on production-level clusters. KOPS on Ec2 & EKS is actively used with AWS.  This article provides a brief about KOPS on EC2 & EKS, and also highlights the characteristics & pricing model of both.


  • KOPS is a utility tool developed by the k8s community to spin up production-level clusters on top of AWS EC2. KOPS was widely used even before AWS developed EKS.
  • KOPS typically uses declarative based configuration and this helps kops to understand the infrastructure changes and take actions accordingly.
  • It has great support for scaling up nodes/clusters based on needs and a major part of k8s operations are automated and managed by kops itself.
  • A few of the Key features are discussed below.
    • Deploy k8s clusters on existing or newly created VPC.
    • Public & Private network topologies are supported.
    • Dry runs using state sync model & idempotency-based automation.
    • Multiple instance groups can be created to support heterogeneous clusters type.
    • Easy rolling updates to cluster.
    • Direct support with domain name integrations.
    • The user needs to manage and maintain the k8s control plane(master, scheduler, API-server etc.)

AWS EKS (Managed K8S  Service)

  • AWS developed EKS to mimic what kops does EC2 but it is completely managed by AWS. Users can start, run & scale their k8s workloads without worrying about cluster updates, management and other technical things.
  • EKS is fully managed by AWS and this puts users in a great position to focus more on their apps rather than maintaining k8s cluster infra and management.
  • EKS can be natively integrated with many other AWS services, which really puts it in a better position when compared with kops.
  • A few of the Key features are discussed below.
    • Highly Available, scalable & consistent performance.
    •  EKS support deployments on EC2 & Fargate.
    • Choosing EC2 will deploy control nodes as Ec2 instances and k8s workloads are executed on top of them.
    • Choosing fargate will automatically provision/manages required resources. Users only pay for their requested resources.
    • Fargate also improves security by design as AWS deploys machines in an isolated environment.
    • EKS provides an integrated console for users. This can be a great benefit for users to organize, visualize & troubleshoot their k8s workloads over the console.
    • eksctl is a command-line tool for managing EKS environments. users can easily spin up, manage, and destroy clusters using this tool.

Comparison of Pricing Characteristics

The following Table illustrates the typical cost points and characteristics as well.

TypeKOPS on Ec2PricingEKS Managed K8s on EC2PricingEKS FargatePricing
K8s Masteruser manageddepends on ec2 instance typeAWS Managed0.10 USD/hr per clusterAWS Managed0.10/hr per cluster
for ex: t3a medium 75 USD/month with 30 Gb EBSaround 72-75 USD/month per cluster
K8s Control nodesuser manageddepends on ec2 instance typeuser manageddepends on ec2 instance typeAWS managedthe minimum charge incurred for one minute
for ex: t3a medium 75 USD/month with 30 Gb EBSfor ex: t3a medium 75 USD/month with 30 Gb EBScosts depend on the vCPU & Memory allocatedcomes to around 150 USD/month for normal usage
S3 Bucketsuser managed and2-5 USD/month (depending on the Size)None-None-
KOPS use S3 for storing k8s configuration
S3 Gets & PutsKOPS continuously polls S3 to maintain state5-10 USD/month depends on k8s cluster managementNone-None-
Route53 Records & CertificatesR53 hosted zone is a pre-requisite for KOPSCost around 5 USD/month(based on queries)Not a pre-requisite, but it can attach the zone to k8s clusterCost around 5 USD/month(based on queries)Not a pre-requisite but it can attach the zone to k8s clusterCost around 5 USD/month(based on queries)

Pros & Con’s of choosing k8s ecosystem

Choosing KOPS or EKS has its advantages and disadvantages. We analyzed a few generic use cases and came up with a list for you to check and understand before spinning up k8s on AWS.

KOPS Pro’s:

  • KOPS gives complete authority of master and architecture to the users. They can manage k8s infra as they need, for example, by implementing monitoring add-ons to an existing cluster.
  • The cost of the k8s cluster is similar and sometimes cheaper than EKS in many ways like the cot mostly depends on EC@ instances & traffic. Anyways, KOPS is an independent tool that can directly configure and provide a working cluster in a few mins & anywhere.
  • Control: KOPS is better suited in the long run because of user management & complete control of how things are getting managed.

KOPS Con’s:

  • More effort is required to integrate with AWS Native Tools.
  • More developer eyes need when performing rollouts or upgrades to the k8s cluster.
  • AWS Shared Responsibility model for KOPS. Users need to manage the security modes for their k8s architecture.
  • Community-driven software. Sometimes, it takes more time than expected to fix a bug or introduce a new feature.

EKS Pros:

  • AWS Managed, just spin up cluster and attach nodes, start developing ion working k8s cluster. Users can focus more on their apps and worry less about cluster management activities like scaling and upgrades.
  • Affordable Pricing 0.10$/hr. This really helps many teams to dive into k8s and explore more in EKS.
  • Native integrations with other AWS services. IAM-driven architecture, which improves security posture.
  • Numerous getting started articles with extended AWS support.

EKS Con’s:

  • Worker nodes should be created manually and only a few AMI-Id’s support as of now.
  • Deep AWS integration makes users difficult to change as per their needs/configuration.
  • Little to no influence on managing master nodes. Difficult to integrate with a few third-party services.

On the whole, EKS & KOPS can be great services to start with. However, it’s suitable to deploy and maintain most of the dev & sandbox environments in KOPS. It’s recommended to use EKS if your application is deeply integrated with other AWS services. Have a look at some of CloudySave’s Articles below.


What is AWS Fargate?

AWS Fargate Price Reduction

  • CloudySave is an all-around one-stop-shop for your organization & teams to reduce your AWS Cloud Costs by more than 55%.
  • Cloudysave’s goal is to provide clear visibility about the spending and usage patterns to your Engineers and Ops teams.
  • Have a quick look at CloudySave’s Cost Calculator to estimate real-time AWS costs.


Nikhil Araga is working as a DevOps Engineer who works with Cloud Migrations & DevOps team. He is proud to be part of a team who religiously follow Agile and has a SHIFT-LEFT mindset. He is actively working to create multiple CI/CD pipelines & stable deployment patterns. His key areas of interests include, Cloud Security, FinOps and DevOps practices.