Running a large number of servers in the Amazon cloud is fairly easily; monitoring them is another matter. Fortunately, Amazon offers the CloudWatch service that allows customers to monitor key performance metrics of their Amazon cloud resources and services.
For systems administrators, it is important to understand how well your set of deployed resources and services fit the current demand. If you have too few servers dedicated to a customer facing application you could frustrate customers with prolonged response times. If you have so many servers in a load balanced configuration that the overall utilization is low then you are needlessly running up expenses.
In addition to helping system administrators with tactical decisions about maintaining application responsiveness, CloudWatch data can help with longer term planning as well. Systems designers and architects can gain insight into how the various components in a distributed system function together, and managers can better understand the details behind charges on their monthly bill.
At the most basic level, Amazon CloudWatch is a service that collects metrics about the performance of Amazon services, stores them in a repository, and allows users to query the repository. Users can query the repository interactively through the management console, a command line interface (CLI) or an application programming interface (API). Additionally, users can set up alarms to generate email alerts or to alter the number of servers deployed when specified conditions occur.
You can monitor 14 of the Amazon cloud services with Amazon CloudWatch, including:
- Amazon DynamoDB,
- Amazon ElastiCache,
- Amazon Elastic Block Storage,
- Amazon EC2,
- Amazon Elastic MapReduce.
A full list of supported CloudWatch services is available here.
Dan Sullivan is an author, systems architect, and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience with engagements in systems architecture, enterprise security, advanced analytics and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail, gas and oil production, power generation, life sciences, and education. Dan has written 16 books and numerous articles and white papers about topics ranging from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration, and text mining.
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