This article gives a brief introduction to what ECS is, and the resources and services that it involves.

Elastic Compute Service (ECS) is a type of computing service that features elastic processing capabilities. ECS has a simpler and more efficient management mode than physical servers. You can create instances, change the operating system, and add or release any number of ECS instances at any time to fit your business needs. An ECS instance is a virtual computing environment that includes CPU, memory, and other basic computing components. An instance is the core component of ECS and is the actual operating entity offered by Alibaba Cloud. Other resources, such as disks, images, and snapshots, can only be used in conjunction with an ECS instance.

Use the ECS Learning Path as a mentor to become an ECS expert!

The following figure illustrates the concept of an ECS instance. You can use the ECS console to configure the instance type, disks, operating system, and other affiliated resources for your ECS instance.

Basic concepts

Know the basic concepts before you proceed to use ECS:

  • Region and zone: A physical location where a data center is located.
  • ECS instance: A virtual computing environment that includes CPU, memory, operating system, bandwidth, disks, and other basic computing components.
  • Instance type: The specification of an ECS instance, including the number of vCPU cores, memory, networking performance. An instance type determines the compute capability of an ECS instance.
  • Images: A running environment template for ECS instances. It generally includes an operating system and preinstalled software.
  • Block storage: Block level storage products for your ECS, including Elastic block storage based on the distributed storage architecture and local disks located on the physical server that an ECS instance is hosted on.
  • Snapshots: A copy of data on an elastic block storage device at a given time point.
  • Network types: Alibaba Cloud provides two network types, including
    • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC): A private network established in Alibaba Cloud. VPCs are logically isolated from other virtual networks in Alibaba Cloud. For more information, see What is VPC.
    • Classic network: A network majorly deployed in the public infrastructure of Alibaba Cloud.
  • Security groups: A logical group that groups instances in the same region with the same security requirements and mutual trust. A security group works as a virtual firewall for the ECS instances inside it.
  • SSH key pairs : A secure authentication method to remotely log on to Linux instances. The public key is placed in a Linux instance, and you can use the private key to log on to the instance by using SSH commands or related tools. Besides, you can use a password to log on to a Linux instance.
  • IP address: When an ECS instance is created, a private IP address is assigned to it for intranet communication. If the instance needs Internet access, a public IP address is assigned.
  • EIP address (EIP): A public IP address resource that you can purchase and possess independently. You can bind an EIP address to a VPC-Connected ECS instance.
  • ECS console: The Web application for managing ECS instances.

Related services

Alibaba Cloud marketplace is an online market. You can purchase software infrastructure, developer tools, and business software provided by third-party partners. You can become a marketplace service provider.

Auto Scaling enables you to dynamically scale your computing capacity up or down to meet the workload of your ECS instances according to scaling policies you specify, and to reduce the need of manual provision.  For more information, see What is Auto Scaling.

Container Service enables you to manage the lifecycle of containerized applications by using Docker and Kubernetes. For more information, see What is Container Service.

Server Load Balancer distributes the incoming traffic among multiple ECS instances according to the configured forwarding rules. For more information, see What is Server Load Balancer.

CloudMonitor manages ECS instances, system disks, Internet bandwidth, and other resources. For more information, see What is CloudMonitor.

Server Guard (Server Security) provides real-time awareness and defense against intrusion events, which safeguards the security of your ECS instances. For more information, see What is Server Guard.

Anti-DDoS Basic prevents and mitigates DDoS attacks by routing traffic away from your infrastructure. Alibaba Cloud Anti-DDoS Pro safeguards your ECS instances under high volume DDoS attacks. For more information, see What is Anti-DDoS Basic and What is Anti-DDoS Pro.

Alibaba Cloud SDK enables you to access to Alibaba Cloud services and to manage your applications based on the language of your choice. For more information, see Developer Resources.  You can use OpenAPI Explorer to debug ECS API and generate the SDK Demo.


Alibaba Cloud provides an intuitive operation interface for you to manage your ECS instances. You can log on to the ECS console to operate ECS instances. For more information, see User Guide.

You can use API to manage your ECS instances. For more information, see API References.  You can also use Alibaba Cloud CLI to call API to manage ECS instances. For more information, see Alibaba Cloud Command Line Interface.

Pricing and billing

ECS supports both Subscription and Pay-As-You-Go as billing methods. For more information, see Billing methods.

For the price information, see the Pricing page.