Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the pioneers in providing cloud services, has offered many exciting cloud services on the AWS platform. AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service), EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), VPC (Virtual Private Cloud), and Autoscaling are one of the few services provided by AWS.
When it comes to monitoring AWS, various types of activities take place on AWS infrastructure. A particular monitoring service can be helpful based on the organization’s application, activity, and infrastructure. CloudWatch, CloudTrail, and X-ray are a few AWS services that help organizations monitor their AWS infrastructure on the cloud.
Let’s learn more about AWS monitoring and everything essential here.
What is AWS Monitoring?
AWS monitoring refers to scanning your AWS resources and applications, ensuring their security and performance. This information makes it easy to spot issues and vulnerabilities, enhance configurations, and predict performance.
As AWS has become the dominant player in the cloud computing market, organizations are increasingly looking to AWS for their cloud computing needs. However, with this, increased adoption of AWS comes an increased risk of security breaches.
To mitigate these risks, organizations need to invest in an AWS monitoring solution that can help them identify and respond to security threats quickly and effectively.
Benefits of AWS Monitoring:
- Improved security: Helps organizations to identify and respond to security threats quickly and effectively. This can help to protect data and applications from unauthorized access, modification, or destruction.
- Increased compliance: Helps organizations to ensure compliance with industry regulations. This can help to protect organizations from fines and penalties.
- Reduced costs: Helps organizations to reduce costs by identifying and resolving performance problems before they cause outages or other disruptions.
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How to Monitor AWS Services?
There are many ways to monitor AWS services. Here are a few of the most common methods:
- Amazon CloudWatch: CloudWatch is a fully managed monitoring service that provides data and actionable insights into your AWS resources. You can use CloudWatch to monitor metrics, logs, and events from your AWS resources and create alarms and notifications to alert you when there are problems.
- AWS X-Ray: X-Ray is a service that helps you troubleshoot and analyze distributed systems. It can be used to collect and view traces of requests as they move through your application, as well as identify errors and performance bottlenecks.
- AWS Trusted Advisor: Trusted Advisor is a service that provides recommendations to help you improve your AWS resources’ performance, security, and cost-effectiveness.
- Third-party monitoring tools: Several third-party monitoring tools can be used to monitor AWS services. These tools often offer more features and flexibility than native AWS monitoring tools.
AWS Monitoring vs. Observability
Monitoring refers to collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data to track the performance and behavior of various systems. It involves capturing metrics, logs, and other relevant information to monitor the health and availability of your infrastructure. Monitoring helps you identify trends, set up alerts, and ensure your systems run smoothly.
On the other hand, observability goes beyond just monitoring and focuses on understanding your systems’ internal state and behavior. It involves leveraging data from multiple sources, such as logs, metrics, and traces, to gain insights into your systems’ functioning. Observability aims to provide a holistic view of your infrastructure, allowing you to understand the context and dependencies between different components.
In essence, monitoring focuses on collecting and displaying data, while observability emphasizes understanding system health through a broader range of inputs and outputs. (Read – Monitoring vs. Observability)
Monitoring Metrics with AWS CloudWatch
Amazon CloudWatch is an AWS service that lets you collect and monitor the performance metrics for all your AWS cloud resources and applications running on AWS within a few clicks. AWS offers built-in metrics that help users get insights into various elements, while custom metrics can be generated with the help of EC2 instances. CloudWatch-generated metrics are free of cost for five minutes of monitoring intervals where one-minute interval metrics are charged. In addition, AWS CloudWatch provides organizations with metrics that help monitor the resources, and the number of EC2 instances, set up alarms on sensitive occurrences, check traffic patterns, etc.
AWS resources can be monitored in real time with the help of CloudWatch. The available metrics can be collected and monitored, which can be used to measure the applications and resources. The programmed alerts can send notifications or make pre-programmed changes in the resources.
Working with AWS CloudWatch
Amazon CloudWatch collects all metrics and stores them in the repository. Metrics are collected for AWS services such as EC2 and sent to CloudWatch. CloudWatch stores metrics in the repository and allows users to retrieve statistics based on available metrics. CloudWatch console allows the user to calculate the data based on metrics and present the same data graphically in the console. Amazon CloudWatch lets the user configure alarms that can change the state of an EC2 machine when specific criteria are met. CloudWatch can initiate Auto Scaling and Simple Notification Service (SNS) on the user’s behalf. AWS has different regions that consist of multiple availability zones. AWS CloudWatch cannot aggregate data from different areas.
Here are a few CloudWatch elements that help organizations monitor the entire AWS infrastructure.
CloudWatch Events: It provides a near real-time stream of system events that describe changes in AWS resources. On the occurrence of specific events, they could be routed to one or more target functions. Users can also use CloudWatch events for scheduling an automated task that self-triggers at times with the help of cron or rate expressions.
CloudWatch Alarms: This feature of CloudWatch allows users to set the alarm on metrics and receive a notification when the specified threshold is crossed. It can also be used for taking automated action based on different predefined events.
CloudWatch Logs: CloudWatch Logs are used for monitoring logs, in near real-time, for specific patterns or values. With the help of this, users can view the original log data and get to know the source problem if needed.
Log Monitoring with CloudTrail
AWS CloudTrail is a cloud service that records API calls made on the account and delivers log files to the Amazon S3 bucket. CloudTrail can track or view all customer activities, i.e., executed API calls. Many API calls to various services within or across a region are made through AWS CLI or AWS management console. CloudTrail continuously records these API calls by creating log files and delivering the same to the S3 bucket. The events are stored in JSON format and hence are easily parseable.
AWS CloudTrail allows organizations to govern, comply, operate, and risk auditing. It can log, monitor, and retain account activity related to the action across IT infrastructure on the cloud. It offers an event history of AWS account activity of the entire AWS Management Console, AWS SDKs, command-line tools, or other AWS services. It provides insights that help analyze security, track resources, and troubleshoot. Additionally, organizations can track down unusual activities on AWS accounts and save themselves from potential damage.
Monitoring Applications with AWS X-Ray
Applications on the cloud are dependable on various aspects as the environments are highly distributed across the cloud services. Transactions take place between multiple servers and services. When any performance issue occurs in the background, the hardware could be the culprit, making it compulsory to monitor applications.
AWS X-Ray allows developers to debug the applications specially built in a distributed environment. This helps developers analyze their applications and find out the root cause of performance issues that they can resolve immediately. In addition, it provides insights into end-to-end requests traveling through the application and shows a map of the application’s underlying elements.
The AWS X-Ray can help analyze both types of applications in development and production, from a simple three-tier application to a complex application with many services included. Where AWS X-Ray helps monitor application traces and connected services, CloudWatch Synthetics can help create canaries to monitor endpoints, and CloudWatch ServiceLens to analyze the application’s health.
Key Metrics for AWS Monitoring:
Here are some essential metrics to watch for AWS monitoring
- CPU Utilization: Measures the percentage of CPU being used.
- Application Status Check: Checks application health and identifies issues with instances or underlying infrastructure.
- Latency: Indicates network or server performance issues that affect application response time.
- Memory Utilization: Tracks memory usage to ensure proper scaling of infrastructure.
- Disk Utilization: Monitors disk capacity on storage volumes for efficient resource management.
- Swap Usage: Measures disk usage for data that should be in memory, impacting application performance.
These metrics help identify your AWS environment’s resource bottlenecks, application health, and performance issues. You can read more on the key metrics and best practices for AWS monitoring.
Monitoring AWS Environment with AIOps
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