AWS 101: Monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch

Whether you’re thinking about a cloud migration or have made the leap to AWS, you probably want to know how to keep track of your organization’s digital environment. Amazon Web Services provides easy monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch.

In our latest installment of AWS 101, let’s take a look at this powerful monitoring tool and learn how it helps you track resources and apps you’re running on AWS. This service handles monitoring and metrics generation in real-time, making things easy for your IT team.

What is Amazon CloudWatch?

As mentioned, Amazon CloudWatch monitors your AWS cloud environment, allowing you to collect metrics about all of the resources and apps that your organization uses in the cloud. You can monitor apps that run on AWS with Amazon EC2, in containers or serverless.

This service gives you system-wide visibility into your cloud environment’s performance, usage and operational health. Your customized CloudWatch homepage delivers detailed metrics about each of the AWS services you use. For more granular monitoring, you can create specific dashboards that go into more detail about custom apps, your usage and more.

business analysis displayed on the monitor of a desktop PCTop use cases for monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch include:

  • Infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting
  • Proactive resource monitoring
  • Application monitoring
  • Mean-time-to-resolution improvement
  • Log analytics

You can access Amazon CloudWatch through the CloudWatch API, a command-line interface, AWS SDKs, and the AWS Management Console.

How Does Monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch Work?

Monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch allows you to drill down into your cloud resources and apps to identify anomalies and the root-cause of these performance issues.

This service surfaces insights into how to keep your AWS cloud environment running smoothly. It collects and delivers a unified view of logs, events and related metrics to give you a full view of your AWS cloud performance. By visualizing this side-by-side information, you can determine what is working and what isn’t within your environment.

monitoring and getting insightsArmed with this knowledge, you can create and set alarms based on your specified metric value thresholds or use machine-learning algorithms to identify abnormal metric behavior. CloudWatch Events and Autoscaling allow you to automate responses to these changes for quick remediation.

One other note from a security standpoint: Amazon CloudWatch integrates with your AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service. This gives you control over which users and resources have permission to access your data and how they can access it.

Why Should I Use Amazon CloudWatch?

There are distinct benefits to keeping track of your AWS cloud performance by monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch.

First, you are able to observe your AWS cloud environment’s apps and infrastructure across a single, easy-to-use platform. This breaks down data silos to give you essential, system-wide visibility.

monitoring dataSecond, CloudWatch provides the easiest way to collect both your AWS and on-premise metrics because it natively integrates with more than 70 AWS sources, including Amazon S3, AWS Lambda, Amazon EC2 and more. It also works with hybrid-cloud architecture to deliver an entire snapshot of your environment. 

Third, monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch means you get operational visibility and insight at your fingertips thanks to a unified, granular, real-time view of all of your services, resources and apps. Having all of this easily accessible, visible information means you can use your logs to derive actionable insights that will help you optimize your resources and improve operational performance across your cloud.

As AWS puts it, Amazon CloudWatch lets you Collect, Monitor, Analyze and Act by giving you all of the key data you need to make sure your AWS cloud environment is running as intended and remains within your usage parameters.

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Meet the Author

Gerald Van Guilder, Senior Cloud Architect

Gerald Van Guilder, Senior Cloud Architect

Gerald (Jerry) Van Guilder specializes in GCP and AWS architecture, deployments/implementations and migrations. One of the many things that he enjoys is enabling clients to feel empowered not only by technologies but also in the skill/knowledge transfer that transpires during the course of an engagement. Jerry lives (and works) in Syracuse, New York, with his wife and two pups.

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