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AWS CloudWatch - Monitoring Service

AWS CloudWatch - Monitoring Service

AWS provides a handy way for monitoring AWS resources and applications running on AWS in the form of the AWS CloudWatch management service. This AWS Cloudwatch tutorial will teach you what is AWS CloudWatch from scratch along with its advantages and more.

The following topics are covered in this What is Cloudwatch in AWS tutorial

Watch this Amazon CloudWatch video

What is Amazon CloudWatch?

Amazon CloudWatch is an AWS monitoring and management service which is designed for the purpose of maintaining the services and resources which are used. Particularly, this is designed for developers, site reliability engineers, IT managers, and system operators to make their life easier.

What is Cloudwatch in AWS

But how does it help in AWS monitoring and managing our AWS services? It collects and displays the stats data, metrics, and insights on particular AWS services and your applications which lets you manage precisely what you want to manage. The collected data is in the form of logs, metrics, and events for each AWS service and resource. Using CloudWatch you can create automated actions, troubleshooting is much easier, and optimize your applications by removing the factor increasing your application’s latency.

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Amazon CloudWatch is free for 10 custom metrics and Alarms. 10 custom metrics and 10 Alarms are free for a lifetime and exceeding that will add charges.

1,000,000 API requests, 5GB of Log Data ingestion and Archiving is free and also you can set up 3 dashboards with upto 50 metrics in one dashboard each month.

Amazon Cloudwatch

Now that you know what is CloudWatch in AWS, let’s move forward in this AWS CloudWatch Tutorial and understand how AWS CloudWatch Works.

Features of Amazon CloudWatch

The features of Amazon CloudWatch offer 2 major services, namely- Logging and Metrics. Basically, these 2 services are combined from the CloudWatch.

AWS CloudWatch Logging Service

Includes storing, monitoring, viewing, capturing, and managing service and application logs 

AWS CloudWatch Metrics Services

CloudWatch offers metrics services that include capturing and managing the performance of the resource and operational metrics.

Now, let us have a look at the combined features of both Logging and Metric services by CloudWatch

  • CloudWatch Logs insights – An interactive tool for log query that helps in visualizing and analyzing log data. Whether it is about creating time-series graphs to visualize the data or publishing to CloudWatch dashboard, the log insights tool assists in filtering and aggregating log data.
  • CloudWatch Logs – With the help of this feature, users can collect and store logs for various AWS services like AWS CloudTrail, AWS API Gateway, etc, or for specific applications and on-premise resources.
  • CloudWatch Alarms – The CloudWatch Alarm constantly keeps on monitoring the CloudWatch metrics. It raises an alert if the metric (or metrics) exceeds the set/specified thresholds. The alarm’s status can also be displayed on the CloudWatch dashboard.
  • Auto Scaling AWS auto scaling of CloudWatch is responsible for the automation of capacity and resource planning.
  • AWS Integration – CloudWatch is known to facilitate integration with AWS Identity and Access management. These integration features give a management console, ownership to manage and control access to ClodWatch data and resources.
  • CloudWatch Events – It picks for the state changes to the AWS resources and is responsible for creating a near to real-time stream of events routed to targets for processing. Eventually, the targets are notified of the state changes with the help of these events.

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How Amazon CloudWatch Works?

how cloudwatch works?

Now that we understand what is AWS Cloudwatch, let us move on and understand what is its common workflow.

CloudWatch performs 4 actions normally, first it collects log and metric data, then monitors the applications, then Acts according to the instructions, finally analyzes the collected log and metric data for further usage.

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You can mention the service in CloudWatch and it starts collecting it’s raw log and metrics data. Even while collection it keeps on monitoring and updates the data. While AWS monitoring, if any issues are found, it will act and try to troubleshoot it. With all the collected log and metric data, it will analyze and produce visualized content for better understanding and further usage.

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Amazon CloudWatch Alarms

CloudWatch Alarms are used to monitor only metric data. You can set alarms in order to take actions by providing a condition in the metric data of a resource.

Cloudwatch alarms

CPU Utilization and Bytes Download are metric data of EC2 and SNS specifically.

Let us learn this with an example. Consider the CPU Utilization of the EC2 instance can be upto 75% and an Alarm should be evoked once it crosses the range.

There are 3 alarm states:

  • OK – Within Threshold.
  • ALARM – Crossed Threshold.
  • INSUFFICIENT_DATA – Metric not available/ Missing data (Good, Bad, Ignore, Missing).

One of these states will be considered at each millisecond of using CloudWatch metric data.

Now, look at this graph:

cloudwatch alarms graph
  • When the CPU Utilization is 75% or lesser than 75% the Alarm state is at OK
  • If it exceeds it is at ALARM you will be notified
  • Whenever there is no CPU Utilization data or incorrect data is produced, it will be called INSUFFIECIENT_DATA
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Advantages of Amazon CloudWatch

  • One dashboard, Access all data
    • The web applications produce a lot data as they are highly distributed, to access all the data which have been collected you just need a single CloudWatch dashboard.
  • Visibility on the complete Infrastructure
    • You can see through all the AWS resources and services you use, so you can correlate and contradict data produced from multiple services.
  • Improve total cost of ownership
    • CloudWatch can be used to set high resolution alarms and can take automated actions while there is an breach in the limits provided. This can help in minimize the costs spent on AWS services
  • Insights from logs
    • You receive detailed insights on separate AWS services and the applications you run on the infrastructure. Data like memory, CPU utilization, and capacity utilization can be monitored and receive insights from it
  • Optimize Applications and resources
    • Using the log and metric data, you can optimize your AWS services to provide maximum throughput and performance.

Want to learn more about AWS? Check out our AWS Tutorial now!

Amazon CloudWatch Dashboard

This is how a CloudWatch dashboard looks like without any services connected to it.
CloudWatch Dashboard

Hope this AWS CloudWatch Tutorial helped you understand what is AWS CloudWatch and how it works.

AWS CloudWatch Pricing

AWS CloudWatch pricing comes in 2 tiers: Free tier and Paid tier. In both cases, there are no upfront or commitment fees. The Free tier includes services like monitoring metrics, dashboards, logs, alarms, events, contributor insights, and synthetics, etc. 

The charges for the paid tier are based on the “Pay for what you use” model and the billing date is the end date of every month. This bill amount will be generated based on the quantity of the metrics, API, and metric streams used.

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AWS CloudWatch vs CloudTrail

As it is quite clear from the names- CloudWatch monitors the AWS data, resources, and applications whereas, CloudTrail tracks the activity in the AWS environment. The basic line of difference between the two is the bandwidth of controlling and monitoring. CloudWatch helps you scale the applications, and CloudTrail clearly helps you track down who did what to your applications. CloudWatch monitors the performance of the AWS applications, resources, etc., and CloudTrail monitors the actions involved therein.

Benefits of CloudWatch

Many organizations have been using AWS resources and applications and hence, they are reaping numerous benefits of CloudWatch. We have listed below some of the benefits of using CloudWatch:

  • Ease of streaming CloudWatch log data to Amazon Elasticsearch and real-time processing of the same 
  • Full utilization of the resources
  • Easy integration of system based on AWS EC2 instances 
  • Stability and Reliability 
  • Ease of usability
  • Effective monitoring of AWS resources
  • Facilitates notification of anomalies detected via Amazon SNS

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Challenges of AWS CloudWatch

  • CloudWatch dashboard does not allow the creation of histograms of discrete counts
  • The CloudWatch does not store the memory metrics on EC2
  • Much costlier than other third-party monitoring and log tools
  • Integration is limited to only AWS resources

AWS CloudWatch Use Cases

Organizations are effectively utilizing the monitoring and events features of AWS CloudWatch to maintain the health of the AWS environment. Precisely speaking, AWS CloudWatch has the following uses:

  • It finds its usage in deriving metrics and deploying applications 
  • Facilitates monitoring of resource utilization, application performance, and overall infrastructure health
  • Used as a logging tool and also as a dashboard
  • Also used for organizing the metrics across all the deployed applications on AWS.

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