Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a web-based cloud computing solution offering scalable storage and content delivery, with no physical overhead. Virtualization with AWS works on a pay-as-you-go basis, which means your business isn’t forced to invest in virtual services beyond your immediate needs. Because AWS offers nearly every component of a physical computer, it allows you to operate virtual CPUs, storage units, and CDN components within a flexible framework. However, you also need to monitor and optimize your use of AWS to ensure high levels of performance for end users.
Managing your cloud infrastructure is easier with AWS monitoring tools like Amazon CloudWatch, which logs AWS operations data, monitors AWS metrics, and keeps tabs on AWS resource consumption. For IT admins running a complex and expanding AWS system, Amazon’s pre-installed CloudWatch is a great start. But there are many AWS management tasks you cannot complete with only CloudWatch, and that’s where AWS monitoring tools come in.
Choosing the Right AWS Monitoring Tools
When choosing tools for AWS monitoring or optimization, you can pick between a few different tool types. You might choose a tool focused on performance metrics, or one that leverages log data. You also might consider open-source options, which are free but don’t come with a customer-service infrastructure to help you with user-end issues, making them difficult to install, manage, and update. Closed-source AWS monitoring tools, in contrast, come with customer support and regular vendor updates, and are typically more user-friendly. Use the list below to choose the right AWS monitoring tools for your organization’s goals and needs.
AppOptics, which is part of the Amazon Partner Network, is designed to expand on the metrics you already monitor with CloudWatch, for more in-depth awareness of health and performance for cloud applications. AppOptics lets you keep track of virtual capacity limitations, data log trends, performance statistics, and more. As an alternative to the pay-as-you-go alerts and dashboards you can buy with CloudWatch, AppOptics allows you to manage unlimited dashboards and AWS metrics alerts, without add-on costs for new metrics. In addition, AppOptics offers integrations with AWS add-on services, which allows you to expand the scope of your AWS monitoring while keeping your dashboard all in one place.
AppOptics dashboards are preset and intuitive, which means you can get right to your management tasks without a complicated setup. And for high-resolution problem solving, AppOptics provides in-depth, automated analysis of your AWS log data, which helps detect issues in your AWS data log and provides graphic displays for at-a-glance insight. AppOptics also allows you to monitor multiple separate AWS systems from a single interface, which can save major time and hassle.
Wondering how to get the most of AWS logging? Papertrail expands your CloudWatch management process with advanced monitoring tools for your AWS data logs. Papertrail allows you to continually centralize your logs then quickly search and filter for specific historical data points, which helps to speed up troubleshooting. With insight into AWS data logs, you can optimize the security of your virtual system, demonstrate compliance with industry-wide security log audits, and troubleshoot current and past problems.
Papertrail uses seamless APIs to provide real-time insight into AWS, which means you receive alerts as soon as issues are logged, allowing for rapid incident response. Papertrail alerts can be integrated with numerous messaging tools including email, Slack, and Campfire.
Whenever you need to execute code in your AWS ecosystem, Papertrail makes full use of Amazon Lambda to easily and efficiently execute necessary functions. For functions exceeding AWS Lambda capacity, Papertrail makes it easier to manage the shards you stream through Amazon Kinesis Data Streams.
Papertrail is a closed-source tool that allows you to pay for just what you use—starting around $7 a month for 1GB of logs, with a one-week search window and one-year archiving. SolarWinds offers a free 14-day trial with full functionality.
ZenPack is a cloud monitoring tool from Zenoss Inc. ZenPack offers multi-application compatibility, including a popular open-source AWS version. A major benefit of ZenPack is its graphical display, which offers more intuitive features compared to other open-source solutions. Because ZenPack directly draws from CloudWatch metrics, it’s a low-investment way to expand and improve your CloudWatch capabilities. You can also discover and monitor other services within your Amazon suite, like Amazon VPC, S3 and S3Bucket, Amazon E, and more.
Zabbix is an open-source application monitoring tool popular for its customer service system—a vast array of online forums to help you answer nearly any question you may have about Zabbix management and setup. Zabbix is designed to collect metrics from the AWS cloud along with various services, applications, and databases. It offers a range of features, including alert escalation, but the dashboard experience isn’t as robust as for paid solutions, since it doesn’t offer visual analytics or charts. It also lacks some useful AWS monitoring features, like data importing and performance reports.
Weave Scope from Weave Works is an open-source visualization and monitoring tool focused on microservices—it’s built to automatically detect processes, containers, and hosts. Compared to most other open-source tools, little manual configuration is required for setup. When it comes to AWS, Weave Scope monitoring mostly focuses on your AWS Elastic Container Services (ECS), but it can also track other AWS metrics and tasks in real time.
Weave Scope consists of three elements: a probe, the app, and the interface. With these features, the tool offers a “top-down” view of your apps, all from one place, so you can quickly diagnose problems within your distributed containerized app.
Go Beyond AWS CloudWatch Monitoring
CloudWatch doesn’t offer unlimited or comprehensive alerting for changes in AWS metrics, which means IT managers will need to manually keep tabs on cloud data, or constantly expand the pay-as-you-go alerts available through AWS. CloudWatch is also unable to detect unusual data points on its own, and it has no way to keep track of multiple AWS accounts at once.
To expand AWS management past the most basic monitoring tasks, every business should deploy a reliable AWS monitoring product. Use the list above to get started with the right AWS monitoring tool for your business.