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Amazon CloudWatch is a versatile and useful AWS monitoring service, especially when it comes to digging into metrics associated with Amazon EC2 instances. CloudWatch allows cloud administrators to configure alarms and specific metrics to generate notifications when those metrics cross preset thresholds.
Administrators can select metrics for each AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance, such as CPU utilization, disk bytes read and disk bytes written. EC2 monitoring and reporting can also be organized by Auto Scaling groups or Elastic Load Balancing when needed.
Amazon Cloudwatch includes basic EC2 monitoring at no extra charge; reports are available for up to seven selected metrics at five-minute intervals, along with three status checks at one-minute intervals. For more comprehensive monitoring, admins can pay for a detailed mode that reports all metrics at one-minute intervals. AWS retains EC2 monitoring metrics for two weeks, and admins can access them through either the EC2 tab, the CloudWatch tab in the AWS Management Console or by using CloudWatch APIs.
But CloudWatch handles more than just EC2 monitoring and its associated scalers and load balancers. CloudWatch can also monitor and report on Amazon Route 53 networks. For storage, the service handles Amazon Elastic Block Store using solid-state drive and magnetic disks, Amazon Storage Gateway and Amazon CloudFront content delivery. It also supports database and analytics services, including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Relational Database Service, Amazon Elastic MapReduce and Amazon Redshift.
In addition, CloudWatch can report on Amazon Simple Notification Service topics, Amazon Simple Queue Service queues, AWS OpsWorks configuration management and it can estimate an enterprise's AWS bill. CloudWatch can also use API calls to integrate with local monitoring and reporting systems -- effectively aggregating the systems with CloudWatch.
Amazon CloudWatch also includes a significant level of automation, so admins can take specific actions based on alerts and notifications. For example, Auto Scaling services use CloudWatch notifications to add or remove Amazon EC2 instances on demand. Similarly, CloudWatch alerts might trigger AWS Lambda functions that spawn new instances or make other changes to resources in response.
Automation speeds the response time to resource changes while maintaining consistency -- no steps are overlooked or delayed. IT teams can always access reports, logs and dashboards for troubleshooting, quality assurance and long-term service planning.
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