Amazon CloudWatch vs Grafana: What are the differences?
Amazon CloudWatch: Monitor AWS resources and custom metrics generated by your applications and services. With Amazon CloudWatch, you gain system-wide visibility into resource utilization, application performance, and operational health. Programmatically retrieve your monitoring data, view graphs, and set alarms to help you troubleshoot, spot trends, and take automated action based on the state of your cloud environment; Grafana: Open source Graphite & InfluxDB Dashboard and Graph Editor. Grafana is a general purpose dashboard and graph composer. It's focused on providing rich ways to visualize time series metrics, mainly though graphs but supports other ways to visualize data through a pluggable panel architecture. It currently has rich support for for Graphite, InfluxDB and OpenTSDB. But supports other data sources via plugins.
Amazon CloudWatch can be classified as a tool in the "Cloud Monitoring" category, while Grafana is grouped under "Monitoring Tools".
Some of the features offered by Amazon CloudWatch are:
- Basic Monitoring for Amazon EC2 instances: ten pre-selected metrics at five-minute frequency, free of charge.
- Detailed Monitoring for Amazon EC2 instances: seven pre-selected metrics at one-minute frequency, for an additional charge.
- Amazon EBS volumes: eight pre-selected metrics at five-minute frequency, free of charge.
On the other hand, Grafana provides the following key features:
- Create, edit, save & search dashboards
- Change column spans and row heights
- Drag and drop panels to rearrange
"Monitor aws resources" is the top reason why over 70 developers like Amazon CloudWatch, while over 65 developers mention "Beautiful" as the leading cause for choosing Grafana.
Grafana is an open source tool with 29.7K GitHub stars and 5.63K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Grafana's open source repository on GitHub.
According to the StackShare community, Amazon CloudWatch has a broader approval, being mentioned in 721 company stacks & 334 developers stacks; compared to Grafana, which is listed in 577 company stacks and 325 developer stacks.
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After looking for a way to monitor or at least get a better overview of our infrastructure, we found out that Grafana (which I previously only used in ELK stacks) has a plugin available to fully integrate with Amazon CloudWatch . Which makes it way better for our use-case than the offer of the different competitors (most of them are even paid). There is also a CloudFlare plugin available, the platform we use to serve our DNS requests. Although we are a big fan of https://smashing.github.io/ (previously dashing), for now we are starting with Grafana .
analyze heap dump and many logging or traces
If you have a single server, checking log files is as easy as SSHing to it and viewing logs. When you move to the container world, with many servers, you need a place to aggregate and search through all of your logs. CloudWatch provides us with this and it was trivial to setup.
We use Grafana to view live stats relating to our servers such as memory and CPU usage. We also use Grafana to monitor our gaming servers for data such as latency and player counts. This allows us to generate effective analytics and see when problems arise.
Everyone likes graphs, right?! This isn't a tool we actively use right now, but paired with Prometheus we want to use it to have visual monitors on things like API cluster health, status, queue stats, DB/redis query and cache stats etc.
Grafana is used in combination with Prometheus to display the gathered stats and to monitor our physical servers aswell as their virtual applications. We also use Grafana to get notifications about irregularities.
Grafana takes the data from InfluxDB and presents it in a nice flexible format. Bonus points for built-in alerts and playlists (cycles through different dashboards automatically)
- Graph report with many panels and Dashboard.
- Easy to deploy, and view performance of system.
- Intergrating with many datasource: Prometheus, CloudWatch
CloudWatch is “on by default” in Amazon. And by just configuring a few alarms you can have a near-zero-cost monitoring service of your own.
- Collect metrics for Grafana.
- Alerts for AutoScale.
- Centralized-logging: rds, ec2, app logs with CloudWatch Log
CloudWatch is used to monitor various aspects of our production infrastructure deployed at Amazon.