AWS Infrastructure Observability

Arfan Sharif - July 18, 2023

What is AWS infrastructure observability?

Effective and efficient delivery of software applications requires a clear observability strategy to collect and analyze the right components at the right time. Observability is essential for ensuring the efficient and effective operation of various infrastructure components, and involves collecting and analyzing the data from these components. On cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), observability facilitates availability, reliability, and optimal performance of applications and services administered to end users.

In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of implementing infrastructure observability on AWS. We will explore a few key observability services from AWS, along with external services that you can integrate with your AWS account to enhance your monitoring capabilities.

Benefits of AWS infrastructure observability

Infrastructure observability is a critical aspect of managing your AWS environment. There are many advantages, including enhanced security of your services, improved reliability, as well as better cost optimization of your AWS services.

Increased Security and Compliance

AWS infrastructure observability can help you address compliance and regulatory requirements by tracking system and user activities and detecting unauthorized or inappropriate access.

Improved Reliability

Another advantage of infrastructure observability is the ability to track application performance metrics. By analyzing the performance data, you can identify and troubleshoot bottlenecks, optimize application performance, and improve the overall user experience.

By monitoring your infrastructure’s usage and performance metrics, you can identify patterns and trends that indicate when additional resources may be necessary. This proactive approach to capacity planning can help you build elastic capabilities into your architecture such as event and threshold-driven autoscaling, and allow you to stop guessing about your capacity needs.

Optimized Management

Monitoring your infrastructure also provides real-time visibility into your services’ performance, security, and costs (such as through Cost and Usage Reports from AWS Cost Explorer) , so you can optimize them for maximum efficiency and customer satisfaction. With AWS’s comprehensive suite of monitoring services, you can easily monitor, manage, and scale your infrastructure to meet your business needs.

AWS infrastructure observability services

AWS offers several services you can configure to observe your infrastructure. These services provide valuable insights into your service performance, security, and cost-effectiveness, including applications you may be running on AWS, as well as allowing you to pinpoint why something isn’t working so you can begin remediation.

Amazon CloudWatchAmazon CloudWatch is one of the most commonly used services that monitor AWS resources and applications in real time, including logs, metrics, and events occurring across your AWS account, allowing you to create alarms and dashboards based on the data.
AWS CloudTrailAWS CloudTrail is an essential service that records and audits API calls to all AWS accounts. It provides detailed information about who accessed your AWS resources and what they have done that can be useful for security audits, or for understanding why resources have changed in your AWS account. 
AWS X-RayAWS X-Ray is a tracing service that helps you to debug and analyze distributed applications that make requests across AWS resources or your custom applications. This service allows for storing and viewing this request information for easy analysis and monitoring of traffic through your applications. 
AWS ConfigAWS Config enables AWS account administrators to assess the configurations present on current resources deployed. This can be used to ensure that they comply with your organization's policies and best practices through a single location to allow for easy auditing across your AWS account.

By configuring these AWS services to monitor your application infrastructure, you can gain valuable insights into the health and performance of your services, ensuring that they are reliable, secure, and cost effective.

Learn More

In this post, we’ll compare the AWS CloudTrail and CloudWatch tools, exploring their key features, capabilities, differences, and similarities.AWS CloudTrail vs AWS CloudWatch

External AWS infrastructure observability services

The above-listed services from AWS may not be ideal for every organization. Nonetheless, an organization can still create a comprehensive and effective monitoring and logging solution that meets its business needs by leveraging in-house data pipelines and external tools.

Build Your Own Data Pipeline

AWS provides multiple services that help you build custom data pipelines to meet the specific needs of your organization. This approach allows you to collect and analyze data from multiple sources and easily scale your data collection as your infrastructure grows.

With complete control over your data pipelines, you can collect, process, and analyze data in a way that meets your specific requirements. This can include real-time monitoring, alerting, and visualization of key performance indicators.

AWS Security Lake is a recent addition to the AWS service portfolio which simplifies the process of ingesting and aggregating security telemetry from multiple vendors to enable customers and partners to build custom security event search and analysis solutions.

Building your own logging, monitoring and analysis infrastructure is often a significant investment in time, effort, and cost, and also requires specialized expertise in data architecture, processing, and visualization.

Leverage External Tools

You can overcome these challenges by leveraging external tools and software as a service (SaaS) products. These tools can provide additional features and functionality that may not be available in-house, making it easier to obtain the specific capabilities required for your monitoring and security needs.

For example, CrowdStrike is a cloud-based security platform that can help organizations monitor and protect their endpoints, cloud workloads, and containers. Integrating CrowdStrike Falcon LogScale or CrowdStream (powered by Cribl) with your in-house data pipelines enhances threat detection and response capabilities.

CrowdStrike’s approach to cloud security in AWS environments

Infrastructure observability is essential for ensuring the performance, reliability, and security of your AWS environment. The benefits of infrastructure observability on AWS include the ability to detect and resolve issues proactively, optimize resource utilization, and gain visibility into your infrastructure. This article has covered some of what’s offered by AWS in terms of native infrastructure observability services that can collect and analyze data from your AWS resources. These services provide out-of-the-box functionality for monitoring key metrics, events, and configurations, and the ability to create custom metrics and alarms.

However, AWS observability services may not always meet your specific business needs. Services, such as CrowdStrike, can provide the additional features and functionality required for some of your monitoring and security needs that may not be available in-house.

Whether you use AWS infrastructure observability services, external monitoring services, or a combination of both, the key is ensuring that your monitoring and logging setup is tailored to your specific business needs. By doing so, you can gain the insights and visibility required to optimize your AWS environment.

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Arfan Sharif is a product marketing lead for the Observability portfolio at CrowdStrike. He has over 15 years experience driving Log Management, ITOps, Observability, Security and CX solutions for companies such as Splunk, Genesys and Quest Software. Arfan graduated in Computer Science at Bucks and Chilterns University and has a career spanning across Product Marketing and Sales Engineering.