What Is AWS Application Monitoring and How It works

In this AWS article, we will be discussing one of the most versatile cloud monitoring tools. We will learn about AWS application monitoring and also cover the following topics:

  • Why Use Cloud-Based Monitoring?
  • AWS CloudWatch: AWS Application Monitoring
  • How Does AWS CloudWatch Work?
  • Amazon Monitoring and Logging
  • Why Use Amazon CloudWatch? The Benefits.

Why do you need to monitor your AWS Application?

If you have your business running on the cloud, you can use AWS application monitoring services to monitor and improve your performance.

Monitoring the application also makes sure to keep a watch on the security of the application from outside invaders.

IT professionals are also responsible for managing these services to ensure that the performance stays good. And to monitor their performance, they need a powerful monitoring tool, such as Amazon CloudWatch.

Why Use Cloud-Based Monitoring?

Cloud-based monitoring is an umbrella term that encompasses the monitoring of web, network, platform, application, infrastructure, and microservices. Cloud based monitoring is very crucial to ensure that all the services that you use on the cloud are performing efficiently and smoothly.

Imagine that you have developed a messaging app on the cloud. In order to monitor this application effectively, you will need to know what your application’s traffic is, how much bandwidth it uses daily, how it is performing in the cloud, and whether your customers are satisfied with the performance of your app.

But if you don’t have a cloud monitoring tool deployed on your web applications, you will not be able to get the answers to any of these questions.

Therefore, you will never know how your application is performing or if it needs any improvements. As a result, the revenue of your company will decrease rapidly.

Now imagine another scenario where you have deployed a cloud-based monitoring tool, such as AWS CloudWatch to monitor the performance of your application. Using this AWS application health monitoring service would ensure that you are able to keep track of your app’s health.

As a business grows, so does its cloud-based system, and it gets hard to monitor the system manually. Therefore, Amazon offers a competitive and powerful monitoring tool known as Amazon CloudWatch. CloudWatch allows strong monitoring of AWS infrastructure and all of your services on the cloud.

AWS CloudWatch: AWS Application Monitoring

Amazon CloudWatch is one of the AWS application monitoring tools offered by Amazon Web Services. This monitoring service monitors all the AWS resources and your applications that are running on Amazon infrastructure in real time. It monitors all the following AWS resources:

  • EC2 instances
  • Auto-Scaling
  • Load Balancer
  • Amazon SQS
  • Amazon SNS
  • Amazon RDS
  • Amazon S3
  • DynamoDB
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Using Amazon CloudWatch, database administrators can easily track multiple resources and instances using one console to carry out the following tasks:

  • Enable powerful monitoring of various resources including virtual instances in Amazon EC2, data stored in Amazon S3, databases in Amazon RDS, auto-scaling groups, and more.
  • Provide a list of reports to let you analyze trends and track the system’s performance.
  • Monitor, store, and give access to the application and system log files.
  • Provide multiple types of alerts including notifications, rules, and triggering alarms.
  • Gather and show a real-time result of operational data as key metrics, such as disk storage, CPU utilization, etc.

That’s why a majority of the users prefer CloudWatch as it easily and automatically integrates with AWS services. It is flexible, scalable, and convenient.

Now that you know what CloudWatch is and what it does, let’s see how it works.

How Does AWS CloudWatch Work?

Amazon CloudWatch has system-wide integration with your AWS applications and resources. The service monitors all your resource data and develops key metrics depending on the log files of your application.

These include CPU latency, CPU usage, Disk storage, Network traffic, etc. Using these metrics, CloudWatch offers a real-time report of your system’s activity and your AWS resources.

The service also gives a comprehensive overview of AWS infrastructure to monitor application performance, identify trends, and resolve operational issues.

Moreover, CloudWatch also sends high-resolution alarms and real-time alerts in case of any unexpected changes in the AWS environment.

For instance, here’s how you can use Amazon CloudWatch to automatically notify you whenever CPU Utilization falls under 20%.

Step 1: Set Up a CPU Utilization Metric

Open the CloudWatch Management Console and choose the metric from the navigation section. On the resulting page, search for “CPU Utilization”. From the list of search results, choose the instance for which you want to set up the CPU Utilization metric.

Step 2: Create an Alarm for When CPU Utilization Falls Under 20%

Click on the Graphed Metrics option and set the time period that you want and then select an alarm icon located next to the selected instance. Make the required changes in the alarm in the resulting dialogue box, name your alarm, and give it a description. Now set up the Threshold condition.

Since you want email notifications from AWS whenever an alarm condition is triggered, these notifications are sent through Amazon SNS Topic.

To set up Amazon SNS Topic, click on the “New List” option to add an email recipient. If you want to add an existing recipient, click on “Enter List” and type in the name of the SNS Topic. Finally, click on Create Alarm.

The alarm will now be successfully configured to track your instance. Whenever the said alarm condition is triggered, you will get an email notification at the email address that you specified.

AWS Monitoring and Logging

What Are Amazon CloudWatch Events?

Amazon CloudWatch Events offer a real-time series of events from AWS resources to several AWS Lambda functions, Amazon SQS queues, Amazon SNS Topics, and other targets. These events allow you to create a set of rules with which you can tie certain events. Next, these events are linked to targets like Lambda Function or SNS Topic.

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Whenever there are any operational changes in the AWS environment, CloudWatch Events will identify these changes and carry out troubleshooting actions by activating Lambda Functions and sending alerts.

For instance, you can use Amazon CloudWatch Events to log changes in the state of an EC2 instance by using the Lambda function. You can also log object-level API tasks on the S3 buckets by using CloudWatch Events. However, you will first need to use AWS CloudTrail to create a trail that is linked with these operations.

Basically, Amazon CloudTrail lets you track the changes in AWS resources in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

What Are Amazon CloudWatch Logs?

Amazon CloudWatch Logs allow you to store, monitor, and access log files from different AWS resources including EC2 instances, Route53, Amazon CloudTrail, and other resources. These logs allow you to remediate your system issues and maintain and save their log files automatically.

For instance, you can create an alarm whenever an error occurs in your system log so that you receive a notification. Then you will be able to troubleshoot the issues instantly by getting your hands on the original log data that is saved in CloudWatch Logs.

You can also use AWS CloudWatch Logs to:

  • Keep your log data saved in incredibly safe and durable storage.
  • Track your application log files in real time for certain occurrences, patterns, and values.
  • Log the DNS query info that is received on Route53.
  • Configure the retention settings for each log group by specifying a period of retention between 1 day to 10 years.

That’s how you can use the AWS application log monitoring system.

Now that you know what Amazon CloudWatch is and what it does, let’s see why it is important and how it can benefit your business:

Why Use Amazon CloudWatch? The Benefits

  1. Amazon CloudWatch offers you a one-stop platform to access all your data. Use this to watch out for more than 70 AWS resource logs to allow effortless usage and monitoring.
  2. It offers near real-time checks into your application or infrastructure performance so you can optimize AWS resources and operational costs.
  3. Offer holistic visibility across all your applications, system, infrastructure, and AWS resources.
  4. Helps to monitor and manage services in cloud, hybrid, and on-premises resources.
  5. Can be used to raise alarms and take appropriate action such as automatically shut down instances.
  6. Customers can implement a machine learning algorithm on Clodwatch data to detect anomalies and take action in real time.

AWS monitoring tools list

There are three monitoring services provided by AWS by default which can be used to gain resourceful insight into what’s happening inside the application or service. Let’s have a look into those services:

  1. Cloudwatch Logs: This collects all the events happening inside AWS. By all the events it means all the logs, metrics, and events. Applications and infrastructure logs can be monitored in real-time appropriate and prompt action can be taken. All the services in AWS can integrate with Cloudwatch to store the logs. Not just that
  2. CloudTrail Logs: This is the logging service that captures all the API calls made in an AWS ecosystem. It captures the incoming request, outgoing response, and the details of the user making the request and the source of the API call. We have the option to redirect these logs to S3 or even to Cloudwatch Logs.
  3. VPC Flow Logs: These keep track of all the IP traffic in and out of a VPC. We have the option to publish these logs to S3 and even to Cloudwatch logs.
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AWS cloudtrail vs cloudwatch

Let’s have a quick look at the difference between Cloudwatch and Cloudtrail logs:

CloudwatchCloudtrail
A centralized place to store all the events logs and metrics inside AWSLogs all the API Calls
Updated in real-timeUpdates every 15 mins
Free till 5GB of logs90 days of events, charges applicable for S3 storage
All kinds of logging centrallyAWS Modification Audit

Create a Cloudwatch Alarm

Now, that we have learned so many things about Cloudwatch, let us create an alarm in real time for our EC2 CPU utilization. Follow along.

Step 1. Navigate to Clouwatch and open it in the console.

Cloudwatch Console
Cloudwatch Console

Step 2. Here we are going to create a billing alarm for our EC2 instance. Click on billing and Create alarm

Cloudwatch Alarm
Cloudwatch Alarm

Step 3. Click the “Select metric” button and select the EC2 CPU Utilization.

AWS Cloudwatch Metric
AWS Cloudwatch Metric

Step 4. Specify other details like the Statistic and the Period for which the threshold is to be measured. Specify the condition accordingly.

Cloudwatch Metric and Condition
Cloudwatch Metric and Condition
Cloudwatch Condition
Cloudwatch Condition

Step 5. Check out the other configurations and the mail where the alarm has to be triggered. You can also set up any AutoScaling you would like to configure.

Cloudwatch Config
Cloudwatch Config

Step 7. Add a Name and a Description for your Alarm

Cloudwatch Alarm Name
Cloudwatch Alarm Name

Step 8. And we have successfully created a Cloudwatch Alarm that will monitor the EC2 CPU Utilization and trigger a mail if the threshold condition is met.

Cloudwatch Alarm For EC2
Cloudwatch Alarm For EC2

FAQs

Q: Which AWS service is used to monitor the application performance?

Cloudwatch Log is the AWS service, which monitors the overall performance of the application.

Q: What is application Process Monitoring?

Done with Cloudwatch Logs to keep a check on the application performance and statistics.

Q: How do I monitor my website on AWS?

Can be done with the help of Cloudwatch and Cloudtrail Logs

Q: What should I monitor in AWS?

Application and Infrastructure Performance. Security threat. DDoS Attack.

Q: Can CloudWatch monitor URLs?

Yes, can be done with CloudWatch Synthetics.

Conclusion

In this article, we learned what AWS application monitoring is, discovered cloud-based monitoring services, saw how AWS CloudWatch works, learned about AWS application monitoring best practices, and discussed some related topics such as:

  • Why Use Cloud-Based Monitoring?
  • AWS CloudWatch: AWS Application Monitoring
  • How Does AWS CloudWatch Work?
  • Amazon Monitoring and Logging
  • Why Use Amazon CloudWatch? The Benefits

We learned about application monitoring and its integration with many services. Now that you know how AWS application monitoring can benefit your business, improve your system, and troubleshoot problems, go ahead and set it up to monitor your business activities on the cloud.

Keep Clouding!!

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