A Detailed Comparison — SitePoint

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a wide range of cloud computing services, two of which are Elastic Beanstalk and EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). Both services provide scalable resources, but they differ in terms of management, flexibility, and use cases. In this article, we’ll discuss the major considerations, tradeoffs, pros, and cons of each service, including pricing.

Elastic Beanstalk: Pros and Cons

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Beanstalk is a popular choice among software engineers for deploying and managing applications in the cloud. One of the primary reasons for choosing AWS Beanstalk over alternative cloud infrastructure options is its simplicity and ease of use. Engineers can quickly deploy applications without having to worry about managing the underlying infrastructure. Beanstalk automatically provisions and configures resources such as EC2 instances, Elastic Load Balancers, and Auto Scaling Groups. This allows engineers to focus on writing code and delivering features, rather than spending time on infrastructure management.

Another advantage of AWS Beanstalk is its seamless integration with other AWS services. Engineers can leverage the vast ecosystem of AWS services, such as Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, and AWS Lambda, to build scalable and robust applications. By integrating these services, engineers can create powerful solutions that meet their specific requirements and enhance the overall functionality of their applications. It supports various programming languages and frameworks, such as Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, and Go, making it a flexible option.

Elastic Beanstalk Pros:

  • Simplified Management: automates the provisioning, monitoring, and maintenance of the underlying infrastructure, allowing developers to focus on writing code and deploying applications.
  • Automatic Scaling: automatically scales the application based on predefined rules and metrics, ensuring optimal performance during traffic spikes.
  • Integrated Services: integrates with other AWS services, such as RDS, S3, and CloudWatch, providing a seamless experience for developers.
  • Customization: although it manages the infrastructure, developers can still customize the environment using configuration files and custom AMIs.
  • Version control and rollback capabilities: supports application versioning, allowing engineers to deploy multiple versions of their applications and easily roll back to a previous version if needed.
  • Automate application updates: offers the option to automatically update applications with the latest platform version, ensuring that the application is always running on the most up-to-date infrastructure and software stack.
  • Built-in security: leverages AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to provide secure access control to resources, and supports HTTPS to encrypt data in transit.

Elastic Beanstalk Cons:

  • Limited Flexibility: designed for specific use cases and may not support all application requirements. Developers may need to modify their applications to fit within the constraints of the platform.
  • Vendor Lock-in: applications deployed on Elastic Beanstalk may become dependent on AWS-specific features, making it difficult to migrate to other platforms.
  • Pricing: while Elastic Beanstalk itself is free, users pay for the underlying AWS resources, which can be more expensive than managing the infrastructure manually.
  • Custom Config is Hard: especially when creating a custom httpd.conf for your app, if you do any custom config by SSH into your server, it’s considered “out of band” and gets wiped out whenever your server is replaced. The server can get replaced at random times if AWS thinks it’s out of date or unhealthy, or if you turn it off by accident.

AWS EC2: Pros and Cons

EC2 is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Users can create virtual machines (instances) with various configurations, such as CPU, memory, storage, and networking.

AWS EC2 is an excellent choice for developers who require a high level of customization and control over their infrastructure. EC2 provides a wide range of instance types, each with varying combinations of CPU, memory, storage, and networking capacity. This flexibility allows developers to choose the most suitable instance type for their specific application requirements. Additionally, EC2 instances can be easily scaled up or down, depending on the demand, ensuring optimal resource allocation and cost efficiency.

High Availability and Fault Tolerance

AWS EC2 is an ideal option for developers building applications that require high availability and fault tolerance. By leveraging features such as Elastic Load Balancing, Auto Scaling, and multiple Availability Zones, developers can create a robust and resilient infrastructure that can handle unexpected traffic spikes and recover from infrastructure failures with minimal downtime.

Support for Various Operating Systems and Software Stacks

AWS EC2 supports a wide range of operating systems and software stacks, including Windows, Linux, and various distributions of Unix. This enables developers to choose the most appropriate platform for their application and easily migrate existing applications to the cloud.

Integration with Other AWS Services

EC2 seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, such as Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, and AWS Lambda, allowing developers to build comprehensive and powerful cloud-based solutions. This integration simplifies the management of various components within an application and enables developers to leverage the full potential of the AWS ecosystem.

Security and Compliance

With AWS EC2, developers can ensure the security and compliance of their applications by using features such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), and AWS Key Management Service (KMS). These tools allow developers to control access to their instances, isolate network resources, and protect sensitive data.

Cost-Effective Pricing Options

AWS EC2 offers a variety of pricing options, including On-Demand, Reserved Instances, and Spot Instances, which cater to different usage patterns and budget constraints. Developers can choose the most cost-effective option for their specific needs, ensuring that they only pay for the resources they actually use. This flexibility in pricing allows for better cost management and helps developers optimize their cloud infrastructure expenses.

Easy Deployment and Management

Deploying and managing applications on AWS EC2 is made simple with tools such as AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, and SDKs for various programming languages. These tools enable developers to easily launch, monitor, and manage their EC2 instances, allowing them to focus on building and improving their applications rather than managing infrastructure.

AWS EC2: Pros and Cons Summary


  • Flexibility: offers a wide range of instance types and configurations, allowing users to choose the best fit for their applications. Users can also create custom AMIs and use third-party images from the AWS Marketplace.
  • Control: provides full control over the underlying infrastructure, enabling users to configure the instances, networking, and storage according to their needs.
  • Scalability: supports auto-scaling groups, which can automatically scale the number of instances based on predefined rules and metrics.
  • Cost Savings: offers various pricing models, such as On-Demand, Reserved Instances, and Spot Instances, which can help users optimize costs based on their usage patterns.


  • Management Overhead: requires users to manage the infrastructure, including provisioning, monitoring, and maintenance, which can be time-consuming and complex.
  • Learning Curve: has a steep learning curve, especially for users who are new to cloud computing and AWS.
  • Integration: doesn’t provide built-in integration with other AWS services, requiring users to set up and configure the integrations manually.

Pricing Comparison: Beanstalk vs EC2

Elastic Beanstalk and EC2 pricing are based on the underlying AWS resources used, such as instances, storage, and data transfer. Elastic Beanstalk itself is free, but users pay for the resources consumed by their applications. EC2 pricing varies depending on the instance type, region, and pricing model (On-Demand, Reserved Instances, or Spot Instances). To estimate the costs for each service, users can use the AWS Pricing Calculator.

Downsides of Elastic Beanstalk

  • Limited Customization: provides a managed environment, which may not support all application requirements or custom configurations. This can limit the flexibility and control that developers have over their applications.
  • Complexity: while it simplifies many aspects of application deployment and management, it can also introduce complexity, especially when troubleshooting issues or customizing the environment.
  • Resource Utilization: may not always optimize resource utilization, leading to higher costs compared to managing the infrastructure manually.

Downsides of EC2

  • Management Overhead: requires users to manage the infrastructure, which can be time-consuming and complex, especially for users who are new to cloud computing and AWS.
  • Security: users are responsible for securing their instances and infrastructure, which can be challenging and may expose applications to security risks if not properly configured.
  • Cost Management: pricing can be complex, and users need to carefully monitor and optimize their resource usage to avoid unexpected costs.


Elastic Beanstalk and EC2 cater to different use cases and requirements. Elastic Beanstalk is ideal for developers who want to focus on writing code and deploying applications without worrying about infrastructure management. It provides a simplified, managed environment with automatic scaling and integration with other AWS services. However, it may not support all application requirements and can lead to vendor lock-in.

EC2, in contrast, offers greater flexibility and control over the underlying infrastructure, making it suitable for a wider range of applications and custom configurations. It provides various pricing models to optimize costs based on usage patterns. However, it comes with a steeper learning curve and increased management overhead.

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