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Introduction to Amazon Elastic Container Registry (AWS ECR)

Last updated on Jul 15,2024 21 Views

A passionate and knowledgeable tech enthusiast known for his expertise in the... A passionate and knowledgeable tech enthusiast known for his expertise in the world of technology and programming. With a deep-rooted passion for coding, Sarfaraz...

Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) is a Docker container registry service developed and managed by Amazon Web Services (AWS). In this article, we will highlight ECR’s capabilities as a centralized repository for your container images. Learn how AWS ECR can simplify deployments, streamline workflows, and scale its storage capacity to accommodate your growing container library.

Table of Content

  1. What Is AWS Elastic Container Registry? (ECR)
  2. How Amazon Elastic Container Registry Works
  3. AWS Elastic Container Registry Security and Other Benefits
  4. Components of Amazon ECR
  5. 10 Remarkable Features of AWS Elastic Container Registry
  6. Configuration and Implementation of AWS ECR
  7. Conclusion
  8. FAQs


What Is AWS Elastic Container Registry? (ECR)

Amazon ECR is a powerful tool created by AWS for developers looking to optimize app deployment in the cloud.

Think of AWS ECR as a cloud-based storage locker specifically designed for container images, making it easy to manage and distribute them across various environments.

With AWS Elastic Container Registry, you get to experience effortless management of your containerized applications from start to finish It integrates seamlessly with Amazon ECS, EKS, and Lambda, so you can ditch the chore of lifecycle management.

New to AWS in general? Read this blog post on What is AWS for a comprehensive introduction to the platform and its services.


How Amazon Elastic Container Registry Works

Amazon Elastic Container Registry Work

When you push container images to the AWS Elastic Container Registry, the images are stored in Amazon S3, a storage service engineered for high availability and durability. Amazon S3 automatically replicates the data across multiple geographically separated facilities.

This ensures the images are protected against hardware failures, natural disasters, and other potential data loss scenarios.

With AWS Elastic Container Registry, you can stop worrying about having to learn a whole new set of commands! By supporting standard Docker CLI commands, AWS ECR fits effortlessly into existing workflows. Developers can use standard Docker commands like docker push, docker pull, docker build, and docker tag. to interact with ECR.

For example, to push a local Docker image to an ECR repository, a developer can simply run:

ECR repository

This command tags the local Docker image with the AWS ECR repository URI and pushes it to the specified ECR repository.

Similarly, to pull an image from AWS Elastic Container Registry, a developer can run:

ECR repository

The hiccup-free integration of existing developer workflows reduces the learning curve and allows teams to quickly adopt ECR into their development and deployment processes.


AWS Elastic Container Registry Security and Other Benefits

ECR supports private repositories with fine-grained access control using AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) policies. This results in:

  • Improved security: Private repositories by default grant access to only authorized users within your AWS account. By limiting access based on roles, you minimize the risk of accidental or unauthorized modifications to your container images.
  • Strong Encryption: Container images are transferred via HTTPS and encrypted at rest using Amazon S3 server-side encryption. You can also use AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to manage your own encryption keys.
  • Streamlined Management: AWS Elastic Container Registry supports namespaces for organizing repositories and resource-level policies for access control. You can specify permissions for actions like creating, listing, describing, deleting, and retrieving images. As a result, teams can manage their container images based on their project or department requirements.


Components of Amazon ECR

ECR offers a powerful set of tools to manage your container images. Here’s a detailed look at the 5 core components of AWS Elastic Container Registry:

  1. Repository: The AWS ECR repository is a virtual, secure cabinet within ECR. Each repository stores collections of related container images, akin to different versions of your software application. This means you can segregate images by project, function, or any other relevant criteria for easy retrieval.
  2. Repository Policy: It’s a JSON document that defines the permissions for a specific ECR repository. Basically, you have the full liberty to control who can access the repositories and what they can do with the content inside.
  3. Registry: Each AWS account has access to a private registry where developers can create multiple repositories to store Docker and OCI images. The registry is akin to a giant warehouse where all your folders are stored. AWS handles the security and scaling of this warehouse, so you don’t have to worry about it.
  4. Images: This refers to the actual container images stored in the repository. You can pull container images from ECR repos onto your local dev machine or deploy them directly to Amazon ECS or EKS clusters. ECS containers can be configured to have read-only access to their root filesystems. All you need to do is select a container and enable the “readonlyRootFilesystem” option
  5. Authorization Token: An authorization token in AWS ECR is a base64-encoded string containing the username “AWS” and an encoded password. This is your key to the secure vault of ECR. Every Docker client has to use the token saved in the ~/.docker/config.json file to push, pull, or delete the images.


10 Remarkable Features of AWS Elastic Container Registry

Here’s how AWS ECR optimizes container image management experience for its users:

AWS ECR Features

  1. Seamless Orchestrator Integration: Effortlessly integrate AWS Elastic Container Registry with Amazon ECS and EKS. Just specify the ECR repository in your task or pod definition, and these orchestrators will automatically retrieve the necessary images for your applications.
  2. OCI and Docker Support: ECR supports Open Container Initiative (OCI) standards and the Docker Registry HTTP API V2. Developers can use basic Docker CLI commands to effectively manage their development workflow across cloud, on-premises, and local environments.
  3. Public Gallery: The ECR Public Gallery provides easy access to popular base images, tools from AWS, and even Kubernetes add-ons from the community. No AWS account needed to browse and get started!
  4. AWS Marketplace Integration: Amazon ECR can store both your custom-created containers and those purchased through AWS Marketplace. This includes high-performance computing, security tools, developer tools, and SaaS products for managing container applications.
  5. Unmatched Durability: ECR stores container images in Amazon S3 – a storage service designed for exceptional data durability (99.999999999%). This translates to an incredibly low chance of your container images being permanently lost due to storage failures.
  6. S3 Replication: S3 automatic replication (including cross-region replication) ensures your container images are available and accessible from any region where your application is deployed, even in the event of a region-specific outage or disaster.
  7. Faster Deployments with Pull-Through Cache Repositories: ECR’s pull-through cache repositories act as local copies of public container registries. This leads to high download rates and availability, all while maintaining the security and scalability you expect from ECR.
  8. Scan-on-Push: ECR automatically scans container images for vulnerabilities when they are pushed to an ECR repository. The scan checks the image against the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) database from Clair, an open-source project for static analysis of security issues in the docker containers.
  9. Easy Lifecycle Management: Effortlessly manage the lifecycle of your images by defining a set of rules that specify the conditions under which images should be removed. These rules can be based on the age of the images, the number of images, or the tags applied to the images. For example, you can create a rule to remove images that are older than 90 days or have a specific tag.
  10. Third-Party Tools Support: ECR lets you incorporate various third-party developer tools such as Jenkins, AWS CodePipeline, and CircleCI into your existing CI/CD pipeline without disrupting your workflow.

Having a strong understanding of container technologies is often crucial during an AWS interview. Check out these AWS Interview Questions to brush up on your knowledge.


Configuration and Implementation of AWS ECR

You need to follow a series of steps to set up a secure and efficient container image repository. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


Step 1: Create an ECR Repository:


  • Start by opening the AWS Management Console and navigating to the Amazon ECR service.
  • Click on “Create repository,” provide a name, and configure the settings as needed before creating the repository.

2. Authenticate Docker to ECR:

Authenticate Docker to ECR

  • Next, authenticate your Docker client with the ECR registry using the AWS CLI. This step ensures Docker can interact securely with ECR.

3. Build Your Docker Image:

Build Your Docker Image 

  • Create a Dockerfile to define your container image.
  • Use the Docker CLI to build the image, including all necessary application code and dependencies.

4. Tag the Image:

  • Tag your Docker image with the ECR repository URI. This prepares it for uploading to ECR, making it identifiable in the registry.

5. Push the Image to ECR:

  • Push the tagged image to your ECR repository. This uploads the image to the cloud, where it’s securely stored and managed.

6. Configure Image Scanning:

  • Enable the Scan-on-Push feature in the repository settings to automatically check for vulnerabilities in your images upon upload.

7. Set Permissions:

AWS ECR Configure Repository

Finally, use AWS IAM to set access policies for your repository. Limit access to only those who require it.

ECR is just one piece of the powerful AWS puzzle. Interested to learn more about ECR interacts with other AWS services? Check out this informative AWS Tutorial.



With unique security features and effortless integration with other AWS services, AWS ECR is a handy tool for managing container images. Now, if you’re aiming to broaden your knowledge of the AWS ecosystem, consider pursuing an AWS Certification to validate your expertise.



1. What is an ECR in AWS?

Ans. Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR), powered by AWS, helps you manage container images across multiple environments by providing easy integration with other AWS services, such as Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS.

2. What is the difference between ECS and ECR?

Ans. ECS (Elastic Container Service) orchestrates container deployment and scaling, while ECR (Elastic Container Registry) stores and manages container images securely.

3. Why should I use AWS ECR?

Ans. ECR lets you push and pull container images with ease using standard Docker commands. Plus, ECR offers secure scaling to handle your growing needs.

4. Is ECR backed by S3?

Ans. Yes, AWS ECR is backed by Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). This means exceptional data durability (99.999999999%) durability and availability (99.99%) over a given year.

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Introduction to Amazon Elastic Container Registry (AWS ECR)