Date: July 12, 2020
What is Amazon CloudWatch?
What you can do with CloudWatch and some hurdles to consider
With AWS boasting a dominant share of the cloud market, many companies are migrating their on-premises systems to the cloud with Amazon AWS. So, how should a system running in the AWS environment be managed?
In this blog post, we will introduce the features of Amazon CloudWatch, a monitoring service provided by AWS, as well as the challenges of implementing it and how to solve them.
Using Amazon CloudWatch to closely monitor your AWS environment
To ensure that you have a stable cloud environment, it is important to detect anomalies (“system impairments”) quickly and respond in a timely manner. Monitoring becomes an important and necessary task for any organization moving to the cloud. This is no different than if you were managing on-premises applications and infrastructure. So, how should you monitor in an AWS environment? One choice is to use Amazon CloudWatch, which monitors CPU, memory, and disk usage and notifies you when a predetermined threshold is exceeded. Plus, you can set up your own metrics to monitor various items such as application logs.
The best part about Amazon CloudWatch is that it’s a service provided by AWS itself. It has a high affinity with Amazon EC2 and other AWS services, so it can quickly respond to frequent functional extensions and specification changes, and can easily support AWS Auto Scaling, which automatically increases or decreases resources according to the load. Amazon CloudWatch provides precise monitoring tailored to each environment’s unique circumstances.
Amazon CloudWatch implementation challenges
While Amazon CloudWatch is an ideal fit for organizations with experienced cloud engineers and DevOps teams, there are some things the average users should be aware of.
Amazon CloudWatch is effective for monitoring an organization’s AWS environment, but it requires a certain level of skill and knowledge to configure and deploy. Especially when you set your own metrics, are setting up alerts, or taking into account Auto Scaling, the complexity increases. For example, If you’re setting up monitoring, it’s easy, but if you’re setting up email, rebooting, AutoScaling, etc., depending on the resource situation, it can be difficult.
If you want to automate the recovery process with instructions such as “restart the server when an error occurs”, you must first create a recovery scenario with an AWS Lambda script that provides a detailed description of the conditions and actions to be taken. How familiar is your team with AWS Lambda?
The principal advantage of Amazon CloudWatch is that you can monitor your environment closely, but in order to do that, you must properly design in advance for each system what items to monitor and when, threshold values, etc. These design tasks can take a lot of time. Of course, your mission-critical systems need to be closely monitored in this way, but this level of detail and sophistication is not appropriate for all systems. For some, such as internal websites or WordPress servers, you will want to minimize your operating and labor costs. In such cases, we would like to suggest you consider a tool that can be more easily operated and managed.
SIOS AppKeeper for monitoring operating systems and application services running on AWS
For non-mission critical applications, we would like to recommend SIOS AppKeeper from SIOS Technology. AppKeeper is easy to install and configure and monitors the services (processes) of the application running on the EC2 instances. AppKeeper automatically restarts the service when an error is detected and reboots the instance if necessary. Even users moving to the cloud for the first time can set up AppKeeper to monitor their EC2 instances and recover automatically, without needing to have sophisticated scripting skills.
With AppKeeper, there is no need to select individual services to be monitored. You simply start by selecting the EC2 instances to be monitored and what actions you would like to be taken automatically. You can always get more specific about which services to monitor and how, but AppKeeper is designed to be easy to configure out of the box. When an error is detected or automatically restored from, a log of the failure is recorded and stored so that the cause of the failure can be investigated later.
Rather than using Amazon CloudWatch to closely monitor everything in your AWS environment, we recommend that you take inventory of your environment based on your SLAs and recovery requirements, and use SIOS AppKeeper to monitor systems and applications where you want to reduce your operational overhead.
Stay tuned for a future blog post where we will go into greater detail comparing how to set up CloudWatch and AppKeeper to perform the same functions.