Deploying Docker Containers on AWS: A Step-by-Step Guide

An illustrated guide showing a series of steps morphing from a Docker logo into an AWS cloud, symbolizing the deployment of Docker containers on AWS, with digital tools and lines of code floating around.


With the rise of containerization in software development, Docker has become synonymous with creating, deploying, and managing containerized applications. Amazon Web Services (AWS), being a leading cloud service provider, offers seamless integration for deploying Docker containers, making it a go-to choice for developers and enterprises alike. Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just dipping your toes into the world of cloud computing and containerization, this guide will walk you through deploying Docker containers on AWS, step by step. And who knows? By the end, you might just feel like a magician pulling containers out of your hat—or, in this case, the cloud.

Understanding Docker on AWS

Before diving into the deployment process, it’s crucial to understand how Docker and AWS play together. Docker provides an open platform for developing, shipping, and running applications. AWS, on the other hand, offers a robust, scalable cloud computing environment. When you bring the two together, you get a powerful platform for deploying containerized applications that can scale effortlessly with demand.

Step 1: Set Up Your AWS Account

First things first, you’ll need an AWS account. If you haven’t signed up yet, head over to the AWS homepage and create your account. Don’t worry, AWS offers a Free Tier for new accounts, which is more than enough to get you started with deploying Docker containers.

Step 2: Install Docker and AWS CLI

Before we proceed, ensure Docker is installed on your local machine. If not, download and install Docker from its official website. Similarly, you’ll need the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) to interact with AWS services. Download and install the AWS CLI following the instructions on the AWS documentation.

Step 3: Configure the AWS CLI

Once the AWS CLI is installed, you’ll need to configure it with your AWS account credentials. Open a terminal and run:

aws configure

Enter your AWS Access Key ID, Secret Access Key, and the default region and output format when prompted. This will set up your CLI to communicate with your AWS account.

Step 4: Create an Elastic Container Registry (ECR) Repository

AWS Elastic Container Registry (ECR) is a Docker container registry that allows you to store, manage, and deploy Docker container images. To create a new ECR repository:

  • Open the AWS Management Console.
  • Navigate to the Elastic Container Registry service.
  • Click “Create repository” and follow the on-screen instructions.

Remember the repository URI, as you’ll need it later to push your Docker image.

Step 5: Prepare Your Docker Image

With your ECR repository ready, it’s time to package your application into a Docker image. Create a Dockerfile in your application root directory and define the steps required to build the image. Once done, build your Docker image using:

docker build -t your-image-name:tag .

Make sure to replace your-image-name and tag with appropriate values.

Step 6: Authenticate Docker to Your ECR Repository

To push your Docker image to your ECR repository, you first need to authenticate Docker with AWS. Run the following command to retrieve an authentication token and authenticate Docker to the registry:

$(aws ecr get-login --no-include-email --region your-region)

Replace your-region with the AWS region of your ECR repository.

Step 7: Push Your Docker Image to ECR

With Docker authenticated, tag your Docker image with your ECR repository URI, and push it to ECR using:

  • docker tag your-image-name:tag your-ecr-repository-uri/your-image-name:tag
  • docker push your-ecr-repository-uri/your-image-name:tag

This will make your Docker image available in ECR for deployment.

Step 8: Deploy Your Docker Container on ECS

AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) is a scalable container orchestration service that supports Docker containers. To deploy your image:

  • Navigate to the ECS section in the AWS Management Console.
  • Follow the wizard to create a new ECS task definition, selecting “ECR” as the image source and specifying the URI of your Docker image in ECR.
  • Create a new ECS cluster and service, attaching your task definition to it.

This will start your Docker container on AWS, making your application accessible based on the configuration you’ve chosen.


Deploying Docker containers on AWS doesn’t require a magic wand, just a few commands and configurations. From setting up your AWS account to pushing your Docker image to ECR and finally deploying it on ECS, you’ve journeyed through the foundational steps to get your application up and running on the cloud. It may seem a bit complex at first—kind of like trying to fold a fitted sheet—but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.

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