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Last Updated: Jul 22, 2019

This topic provides a comparison of Alibaba Cloud and equivalent AWS services, specifically by describing the equivalent services for virtual servers, block storage, automatic scaling, data collection, VPCs, data computing, data analysis, data visualization, and data processing.


1. Compute services overview

The following table shows the compute services of Alibaba Cloud and their AWS equivalents.

Feature AWS Alibaba Cloud
Virtual Servers Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Elastic Compute Service (ECS)
Block Storage EBS ECS Disk
Automatic Scaling Auto Scaling Auto Scaling
Container Service EC2 Container Service (ECS) Container Service
High Performance Computing High Performance Computing (HPC) Elastic High Performance Computing (E-HPC)

2. Virtual servers

The following table shows the basic services of Alibaba Cloud ECS and Amazon EC2.

Feature Amazon EC2 Alibaba Cloud ECS
Virtual machine Instance Instance
Images Amazon Machine Image Images
Temporary Instance Type Spot instance Spot instance (Preemptible instance)
Firewall Security Group Security Group
Automatic Instance Scaling Auto Scaling Auto Scaling
Persistent Block Storage of Instances Elastic Block Store Cloud Disk
Local Mount Disk Instance storage Local disk
Shared Block Storage N/A Shared Block Storage
Disk Volume Backup Snapshot Snapshot
VM Import RAW, OVA, VMDK, and VHD RAW, VHD. QCOW2, VMDK, VDI, VHD (vpc), VHDX, qcow1 or QED format images can be converted to VHD or RAW format images for import.
Deployment Location Zone Zone

2.1 Instance login

Both Alibaba Cloud and AWS allow you to connect to your virtual server through SSH protocol. Alibaba Cloud also allows you to connect directly to the server using the Management Terminal on the console.

Alibaba Cloud and AWS allow you to connect to your virtual server through SSH protocols. However, the login methods differ for Alibaba Cloud ECS and Amazon EC2. Although both provide SSH keys for login, only Alibaba Cloud allows you to create an SHH key after an instance is started successfully. For more information on Alibaba Cloud SSH keys, see SSH key pair overview.

Alibaba Cloud also allows you to connect directly to the server using the Management Terminal on the console. We recommend that you use a VNC connection if you are checking the boot procedure, configuring BIOS during startup, reconfiguring the firewall, or troubleshooting instance malfunctions. For more information about the Management Terminal, see Connect to an instance by using the Management Terminal.

2.2 Instance types

Alibaba Cloud ECS and its Amazon EC2 equivalent both categorize Virtual machine (VM) instances by specifications and types. However, the categorization differs in terms of CPU, memory, storage performance, and network capability. Amazon EC2 categorizes instances by configuration, whereas Alibaba Cloud ECS categorizes instances into different families based on application scenario. Each family is composed of different instance types. For more information about Alibaba Cloud ECS instance families, see Alibaba Cloud ECS Instance Families.

The following table lists Alibaba Cloud ECS instance families and Amazon EC2 instance types.

TargetGroup Scenario Amazon EC2 Instance Type  Alibaba Cloud ECS Instance Type Family
Entry Level General Type t2,t3 t5 
EnterPrise Level General type m4, m5 g5
Computing instance c4, c5 c5
High-frequency computing instance c5 c4, cm4, ce4, hfc5
Memory instance r4 r5, re4
x1 se1
Big data instance d2 d1,d1ne
Local SSD instance i2, i3 i1, i2
Instance of high capability of packet forwarding N/A sn1ne, sn2ne, se1ne
GPU visualization computing instance g2, g3 ga1
GPU computing instance p2, p3 gn4, gn5
FPGA computing instance f1 f1,f2

2.3 Instance images

Alibaba Cloud ECS and Amazon EC2 use images to create instances. Alibaba Cloud instance images are referred to as Images and AWS instance images are referred to as Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Alibaba Cloud ECS provides four types of images for users to choose from: public images, cloud marketplace images, user shared images, and custom images. Amazon EC2 provides official AMI templates, custom AMIs, cloud marketplace AMIs, and community AMIs.

Note: Alibaba Cloud ECS images and Amazon EC2 AMI are regional resource custom images and shared images that can only be used in the same region. To use the images in a different region, you must replicate them to that region first.

2.4 Billing

The billing methods for Alibaba Cloud ECS and Amazon EC2 are as follows:

  • Alibaba Cloud ECS provides pay-as-you-go and yearly or monthly subscription options. For information on Alibaba Cloud Spot instances, see Alibaba Cloud Spot instances.
  • Amazon EC2 offers a 1 or 3 year Reserved Instance (RI) subscription.

3. Automatic scaling

Both Alibaba Cloud Auto Scaling and AWS Auto Scaling support the following scaling modes:

  • Custom mode: Add/release compute instances, such as Amazon EC2 and Alibaba Cloud ECS, manually.
  • Scheduled mode: Users configure periodic tasks to add/release compute instances according to a schedule.
  • Dynamic mode: Auto Scaling is performed automatically by monitoring compute resources. Alibaba Cloud adds/releases ECS instances based on the CloudMonitor scaling policy while AWS adds or releases EC2 instances based on the CloudWatch scaling policy.


AWS Auto Scaling is enabled by Amazon CloudWatch and is available for use at no additional fees. However, the usage of the Amazon EC2 instance added by Auto Scaling, and Amazon CloudWatch service fees, still apply and are billed separately.Similar to AWS, Alibaba Cloud Auto Scaling is offered to customers at no extra cost. You will only be charged for the usage of the ECS instances automatically created or manually added to Auto Scaling.

4. Container service

Amazon Elastic Container Service and Alibaba Cloud Container Service are container orchestration services that simplify container management and application scaling. Both services replace the need to install, operate, and scale your container cluster infrastructure.Alibaba Cloud Container Service enables you to efficiently run and manage Docker applications on a distributed cluster of Alibaba Cloud ECS instances. Being a fully-managed service, Container Service helps you to focus on your applications rather than managing container infrastructure.AWS Elastic Compute Service and Alibaba Cloud Container Service use the same service model. With Alibaba Cloud Container Service, users can deploy, manage, and expand Docker containers with ease. Alibaba Cloud Container Service supports App lifecycle management using Docker containers, provides a variety of app publishing methods and continuous delivery capabilities, supports microservice architecture, and integrates with Server Load Balancer, Security Group, Cloud Disk, and Resource Access Management.Like Amazon Elastic Container Registry, Alibaba Cloud Container Service provides an image warehouse (Container registry) hosted by Alibaba Cloud, allowing access to official Alibaba Cloud images and those of Docker, and enables accelerated access to official Docker images.


Amazon Elastic Container Service and Alibaba Cloud Container Service differ in their pricing models:

  • Amazon Elastic Container Service provides two different pricing models: Fargate Launch Type Model and EC2 Launch Type Model.

  • Alibaba Cloud Container Service is free of charge. Resources used in collaboration with Container Server (including Server Load Balancer and ECS) are charged separately. ECS instances or Server Load Balancer instances automatically created from the Container Service or manually added are billed by their respective prices.

5. High performance computing

Alibaba Cloud Elastic High Performance Computing (E-HPC) and AWS High Performance Computing (HPC) both provide world-class computing capabilities that can easily meet the requirements of compute-intensive industries in science, engineering, and business. However, Alibaba Cloud E-HPC provides an all-in-one high-performance computing service which we call HPCaaS. E-HPC supports Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with high-performance CPU and heterogeneous computing GPU instances, Platform as a Service (PaaS) with high-performance computing software stack, and Software as a Service (SaaS) with application template customization.

The following table compares the high-performance computing features supported by Alibaba Cloud and AWS.

Function Feature Amazon HPC Alibaba Cloud E-HPC
Cluster Deployment and Management Third-party software E-HPC Console
User Management Third-party software E-HPC Console
Auto Scale Supported Supported
Secure Supported Supported