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 OS, 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.

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

Basic concepts

It is helpful to understand the following concepts before you use ECS:

  • Region and zone: A physical location where a data center is located.

  • ECS instance: A virtual computing environment that includes the CPU, memory, OS, bandwidth, disks, and other basic computing components.

  • Instance types: The specifications of an ECS instance, including the number of vCPU cores, memory, and networking performance. The instance type of an ECS instance determines its compute capability.

  • Images: A running environment template for ECS instances. It generally includes an OS and preinstalled software.

  • Block storage: Block level storage products for your ECS, including Cloud disks and Shared 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 the data on an elastic block storage device as it was at a specific point in time.

  • Network types:

    • 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 group: A logical group of instances that are in the same region and have the same security requirements and mutual trust. A security group works as a virtual firewall for the ECS instances inside it.


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.

  • You can use the open source tool Terraform to provision and manage ECS resources. Terraform provides a simple mechanism for deploying and versioning configuration files to Alibaba Cloud and other supported clouds. For more information, see What is Terraform?.

ECS pricing and billing

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

For pricing details, see the Pricing page.

Learning path

You can use the ECS Learning Path as a mentor to learn ECS basics or add to your knowledge.

Related services

The following services are frequently used together with ECS:

  • Alibaba Cloud Marketplace is an online market. You can purchase software infrastructure, developer tools, and business software provided by third-party partners. If you have software you want to sell, you can become a marketplace service provider. For more information, see Marketplace.

  • 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. It also reduces the need of manual provision. For more information, see What is Auto Scaling.

  • Container Service enables you to manage the life cycle 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 Alibaba Cloud services and to manage your applications by using the programming language of your choice. For more information, see Developer Resources. You can use OpenAPI Explorer to debug ECS API and generate the SDK Demo.