AWS Network Monitoring Tools and Best Practices

In this AWS article, we will learn everything there is to know about AWS network monitoring, how it works, what the different AWS Network monitoring tools are, how it works, along with the following topics:

  • What is AWS Monitoring?
  • AWS Network Monitoring Tools
  • AWS Monitoring Best Practices
  • How to Carry Out Successful AWS Resource Monitoring?

What Is AWS Monitoring?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) network monitoring is a framework that you can use to ensure that the performance and security of your AWS data and resources are solid.

It is a set of practices that depends on a number of tools and services to gather, analyze, and interpret data insights. These insights can be used to find out any underlying problems and vulnerabilities, determine the performance, and improve configurations.

What is AWS & How It Works
What is AWS & How It Works

AWS Network Monitoring Tools

AWS offers various tools and services to monitor your networks. In the following section, we will discuss the various AWS network monitoring tools:

1. What Is AWS CloudTrail?

AWS CloudTrail is a service by Amazon Web Services that allows you to track events on your account. CloudTrail automatically tracks and keeps a record of event and activity logs for the services you use and then keeps the record in S3.

This record includes timestamps, user identities, and AWS monitor network traffic origin IPs. You can check all the events for free for the last 3 months. But if you want to view the data events and insights of your own data, you will have to pay an additional fee.

2. What Is AWS CloudWatch?

AWS CloudWatch is yet another service by AWS that allows you to combine, visualize, and act towards service metrics.

This tool has two components: alarms for creating alerts based on the thresholds for single metrics, and events for automating the responses towards system changes and metrics.

AWS CloudWatch network monitoring?

After installing the CloudWatch Agent in the EC2 instances running on Linux, you can easily retrieve the network performance data into the ClouWatch logs.

There are many metrics available that can be used to watch the performance of the EC2 server through CloudWatch logs. A few of them are as below:

  • bw_in_allowance_exceeded/be_out_allowance_exceeded – This gives us an idea about the packets in queued or dropped. Both inbound or outbound.
  • conntrack_allowance_exceeded – This gives an idea that the EC2 is not accepting any more connections resulting in packet loss.

3. What Is AWS Certificate Manager?

AWS Certificate Manager allows you to supply, manage, and enable secure sockets layer (SSL) and transport layer security (TLS) certificates. These certificates authenticate your services and devices and allow you to secure your network connections.

4. What Is Amazon EC2 Dashboard?

The Amazon EC2 Dashboard is a tool that monitors Amazon EC2 virtual machine service. In order to monitor and keep your EC2 infrastructure and instances, you will have to use the EC2 Dashboard.

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In this dashboard, you can view the state of instances and the service, manage your status reports and alarms, view upcoming events, and evaluate the volume and instance metrics.

Other 3rd party AWS monitoring tools

NetApp Cloud Insights

Want to monitor your entire infrastructure then this is the tool for you. It helps to secure, monitor, and optimize your cloud infrastructure as well as on-premises servers. It helps us perform the below tasks:

  • Saves the business from ransomeware.
  • Helps in resource management.
  • Detect andresolve problems on time and faster as well.

SolarWinds AppOptics

Want to have a common tool to monitor infrastructure as well as applications then this is the tool that helps to achieve that. That in turn helps to reduce identification and resolving of the failing application/stack issues. Let’s have a look at the features:

  • Full visibility of infrastructure and applications.
  • Faster resolution of issues.
  • Exact root cause visibility.
  • It also helps to check the performance.

Zenoss ZenPack

ZenPacks are a plugin mechanism for Zenoss. To monitor new kinds of targets the Zenpacks can be used on top of Zenoss.

This is the application that helps monitor virtual as well as physical networks on the cloud as well as in private data centers, to boost the application performance. Some of the best features are as below:

  1. Large scale monitoring scope like storage, networking, OS and more.
  2. Issue Detection and Capacity planning is guided by AI.
  3. Option to monitor containers.
  4. Data retention and multitenancy.

Zabbix

Good monitoring tool but to achieve the required output it has to be used with another tool. Some features are missing like performance monitoring for applications but overall it’s a pretty good tool. Some of the features are as below:

  1. Realtime problem detection.
  2. Option of RCA.
  3. Detecting Anomalies and Predict the trend.
  4. Exporting the issues to other aplications for trend analysis.
  5. Tagging of issues for smart grouping and alert mechanism.

Weave Scope

Want to monitor your Docker and Kubernetes services then this is the tool you should have. It helps to identify any problem in your distributed system, it provides a complete view of your apps as well as the infrastructure in real-time. Let’s have a look at the wonderful features it provides:

  • It provides access to control the containers, view logs and start/stop the containers.
  • Easily detect and rectify any issues with realtime access to dockers and containers.
  • Also provides access to metadata for a process or containers.

How to carry AWS Monitoring with NetApp Cloud Insights

To deploy NetApp on AWS please follow the steps as below:

  • Go to Cloud Volumes ONTAP from the products menu.
  • Start the free trail and there Select Cloud Volumes ONTAP for AWS.
  • You have to provide the Access Key and Secret Access Key for your AWS Account along with the instance name and the region where you would like to deploy.
  • You must have a KeyPair available with you for the selected region.
  • Provide the VPC, Subnet, KeyPair.
  • Use your own security group or create a new one.
  • Once done you should be able to see an Instance in AWS for the services.
  • Use the Public IP adddress to open the tool in the web browser and we are good to go.

AWS Monitoring Best Practices

When you are using AWS network monitoring to monitor your resources, use the following practices to make sure that all of your AWS resources are monitored, trouble-shooted, and that none of them is overlooked.

1. Define Priority Levels

Create policies to ensure that monitoring tasks are prioritized aptly. This will guarantee that all the critical services are working and that the data stays protected. Create priority levels for alerts or alert categories so that the IT team carries out their tasks effectively and efficiently.

2. Automate Wherever Possible

If you use AWS services, you will know that the production deployments in it are way too complex and big to monitor on your own. The volume of the data is huge to be manually analyzed and interpreted. Therefore, you will need to use automation wherever possible.

Automation will ensure that important data is not overlooked and that all the responses are sent timely. The majority of the monitoring tasks should be done through automation.

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3. Resolve Issues as Soon as Possible

Use the monitoring data to quickly respond to problems like service interruptions beforehand. You cannot afford to survive a service outage. Therefore, scale your resources in advance and resolve all the problems early on so that no additional costs and resources are wasted.

4. Use Cloud to Do the Work for You

Cloud environments allow you to try out different configuration changes without having any impact on the services. They are flexible.

Therefore, whenever you are optimizing using the metrics, use the cloud to experiment with different configurations. Doing this would ensure that the changes are efficient before they are implemented in production.

How to Carry Out Successful AWS Resource Monitoring

1. Assessing Your Monitoring Needs

Before implementing monitoring into your network or changing your current workflow, first figure out what your current infrastructure, skillset, resources, and tooling are. Make sure you assess everything in order to come up with a solid strategy that meets your needs.

How to Assess Your Monitoring Needs

In order to assess your monitoring needs, find out everything about your infrastructure. Where is it located? Is it on the ground? Do you want an AWS network monitoring system for each environment or do you want to use cloud monitoring with one tool for on-premises monitoring?s

  • Assess your compliance policies. Do you have to take any legal formalities to comply with industry practices?
  • Can you remain compliant by introducing a SaaS monitoring and logging system into your infrastructure?
  • Do you need a tool for monitoring your inventory or does your current stack already monitor it? Is there any complexity in removing the legacy agents from your servers?
  • Will it be too costly to remove them and make space for new agents? Do you know exactly which metrics need to be monitored and which to be ignored?
  • You need to answer all of these questions to figure out your needs and then come up with a strategy.

2. Developing a Strategy

Once you know about your current needs, you can develop a strategy to create tags for AWS resources. Tags will allow you to keep a record of your resources and monitor their usage. If you don’t have a tagging system, you will need a lot of time to organize your resources.

Therefore, it is important to create a tagging system that anyone on the board can use. This will enable all the related parties to access the insights whenever they need them.

3. Selecting the Right Solution for Your Needs

After you have created a tagging system for your resources, it’s time to find the right solution for your organization. The best way to go about it is to start with a basic solution and then expand as per your requirements.

But if you already know all the solutions you need and what features you require, you can select any solution that meets your needs and criteria.

4. Start with Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch allows you to create dashboards and use them to access visualized data. In addition to dashboards, CloudWatch also has an alarm system that lets you know whenever events occur.

If you need a simple solution and don’t require a dedicated monitoring system currently, you can start with CloudWatch.

5. Expanding

To maintain visibility over your infrastructure, you can expand your existing system to meet your needs or use a stack of tools.

If you choose to use a stack of tools, make sure that the tools offer the features that you need and can work with your current stack. You may also need a tool to centralize it and ensure that productivity does not suffer.

If you opt for extending your current system, you should make sure that AWS integration is applied and that each extension complies with the regulatory requirements that you have to follow.

6. Capturing Logs

Once you have set up your solution or stack, you will need to determine which logs need to be captured and how you want to set it all up. Logs help you keep a record of compliance requirements and all the troubleshooting issues.

Below are some of the logs that you may want to capture:

  • Application logs that reveal application failures.
  • Database logs that identify slow-running queries.
  • AWS CloudTrail that identifies the API calls that are made to AWS.
  • OS logs that identify the reasons for host failure.
  • Elastic Load Balancing and Host logs that show the latency changes and availability.
  • Web server logs, VPC flow logs and firewall logs that help identify the patterns of attacks and access.
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Most of the AWS monitoring systems are either fit for logs or metrics, instead of giving importance to both of these equally. To make sure that all of your infrastructures is covered, find a solution that allows you to cover both metrics and logs or use a stack.

AWS vpc Network monitoring

The following logs can be used to keep an eye on the VPC and any anomalies can be detected and fixed:

  • VPC Flow Logs: It captures all the logs of the traffic going in and out of the VPC. These data can be either routed to cloudwatch or S3 as well.
  • NAT Gateway Monitoring: NAT gateway can be monitored using Cloudwatch logs. The logs gets collected in clouwath near real time and created readable information.

AWS Network firewall monitoring

The network traffic details can be obtained from the Network firewall log. The logs can be published to the predefined configured destination. It can be retrieved and viewed. Following are the details that can be viewed from firewall logs:

  • firewall_name
  • availability_zone
  • event_timestamp
  • event

AWS Network flow monitoring

Network traffic can be monitored in AWS to keep a check on the inbound and outbound traffic in the AWS or to your VPC.

  • To manage and check the traffic to the AWS we can check the logs from CloudTrail logs.
  • VPC flowlogs can used to monitor the traffic in and out of your VPC.

AWS Network security monitoring

Security is the most important factor in any organization in the cloud or on-premises. So, AWS gives us various tools to monitor the logs that can be used for monitoring and checking any security issues. Let’s check a few:

  • CloudWatch Logs: To monitor and manage services AWS provides with the CloudWatch logs. We can take action based on the log data as it provides details of all the activities of services and resource inside an AWS environment. We have the option to segregate logs into diffeent log groups for our convenience.
  • ClouTrail Logs: This is the logging service in AWS that monitors all the API call to the environment. Each call is considered as an event and we can save it to S3 else it can be routed to CloudWatch logs as well.
  • VPC FlowLogs: This is a specific logging provided to check all the inbound and outbound IP traffice to the VPC in the AWS ecosystem. As always these logs can be routed to CloudWatch or even to S3.

AWS monitor network traffic ec2

To monitor the network traffic of your EC2 instance you have to enable the ENA (Elastic Network Adapter). The data from the logs can be used to debug the performance of the EC2 instance and necessary action can be taken like increasing the size of the instance horizontally/vertically or increasing disk space for better performance. AWS keeps the request in the queue and sometimes drops the network packets based on the EC2 performance. AWS has redefined the performance of EC2 based on each instance based on the below parameters:

  • Bandwidth capability
  • PPS Performance
  • Connections Tracked
  • Link-local service access

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How Do I Monitor My AWS Network?

You can monitor your AWS network using your dashboard. Open your Network Manager console to access the dashboard.

Q2: What Is The Difference Between AWS CloudWatch And CloudTrail – AWS CloudTrail Vs CloudWatch?

CloudWatch deals with the activities of your AWS resources and services and reports on their performance. Whereas CloudTrail keeps a log of all the actions that happen in your AWS environment.

Q3: Which types of monitoring can be provided by Amazon CloudWatch?

You can use CloudWatch to check applications, infrastructure, and services as well. We can set alarms to keep on posted on specific events and take appropriate action as well on that, which can be configured to happen automatically based on the event.

Q4: Can I monitor resources by CloudWatch in multiple regions?

Yes, CloudWatch can be used to set up cross-region as well as cross-account monitoring dashboards. No need to juggle between regions or accounts.

Q5: What are the tools used to monitor the performance of an application AWS?

CloudWatch can be used to monitor the performance of an application in AWS.

Also, read below AWS article.

Conclusion

To sum it up, AWS Network Monitoring is an ideal system to ensure your network’s efficiency and security. We also discussed what the different AWS network monitoring tools and best practices are, and how you can carry out a successful AWS Network Monitoring and performance monitoring.

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