AWS CloudWatch Alternatives
• Learn about different AWS CloudWatch alternatives for monitoring and observability.
AWS CloudWatch is the leading monitoring and observability tool related to Amazon Web Services. It is a native service part of the more prominent AWS family of products that integrate cohesively.
However, for many organizations, using AWS CloudWatch as their primary tool for monitoring and observability just doesn’t cut it. They may have different requirements and business needs that CloudWatch cannot fulfill. Or, they may be on a limited budget, need to monitor other non-AWS services, or need better options for customizing their dashboards.
This article explores three good AWS CloudWatch alternatives and explains how they cater to the needs of businesses better than CloudWatch does at the moment. It also discusses some of the pros and cons of each tool and gives resources for getting started.
Prometheus is a open-source CNF project that acts as a monitoring and alerting service. It offers a list of production-ready monitoring features optimized for container environments. It also has learning materials and a community where you can get help.
The best way to get started with Prometheus as an alternative to CloudWatch is to evaluate the Prometheus-compatible monitoring offering from AWS. Doing this is a great way to explore Prometheus within the native AWS console.
Of course, you can always opt to use the open-source version. The caveat here is that you will have to undertake the whole process of collecting logs and sending them to Prometheus’s self-hosted service. You can start by installing a collection agent (like Fluent Bit or the CloudWatch agent). Then, you will need to host the Prometheus server and ingest the traffic from the agents. Finally, you can extend the visualization capabilities by integrating the Grafana dashboard. The Amazon EKS Workshop website offers a tutorial.
The main challenge that DevOps teams will face when adopting Prometheus is scaling. Overall, however, Prometheus is a solid CloudWatch alternative for logging and alerting on AWS resources.
Sumo Logic is a commercial SaaS product that offers a long list of cloud monitoring and observability features. It has support for AWS, and can you can use it as a CloudWatch alternative.
To start with Sumo Logic you'd ideally begin with their free trial. Once this step is over, you will need to get familiar with their dashboard and learn how to install Collectors for monitoring AWS resources. You can use either an Installed Collector or a Hosted Collector. Both are collection agents that will collect and expose observability metrics in the Sumo Logic dashboard. You can use their proprietary query language to perform searches, and you can also install prebuilt dashboards.
Using Sumo Logic instead of CloudWatch can serve your DevOps teams well. For example, with Sumo Logic, you can get various apps and integrations out of the box. When you buy a subscription plan, you don’t have to pay extra for queries or requests; you only pay for the data that you collect. In addition, it offers advanced security features like threat intelligence and CI/CD analytics.
However, using Sumo Logic for monitoring has numerous downsides. It requires some effort to set up correctly, especially with the Hosted Collectors. The pricing model has a steep starting point of about $100 per GB of data on the most economical commercial plan, which means that the cost could be considerably higher if you ingest a lot of data over time. Also, the dashboard interface could be more user-friendly, and when it comes to constructing queries, it takes some effort to get it right. Suppose you want to use Sumo Logic for monitoring AWS resources. You could make better use of it if you plan to utilize its security capabilities since they are a part of the package pricing.
Mezmo is a log management SaaS product that can manage the logs of AWS services. Because it is solely dedicated to log management, it has a tremendous competitive advantage in scalability, affordability, and performance.
The best way to start collecting the logs of your AWS resources with Mezmo is to use the AWS S3 integration. You need to configure a Lambda function to subscribe to an S3 bucket and send log data to Mezmo. If you want to integrate with CloudWatch directly, you can do so with the CloudWatch collector.
Compared to the alternatives, Mezmo offers many benefits. The pricing is very affordable – it starts at only $1.50 per GB of data ingested with a 7-day retention period. It also allows you to control what you store, and since it can filter logs as you ingest them, you don't get charged for filtered data.
In addition, Mezmo's feature parity and support are stellar. The UI is intuitive and easy to use, and the designers didn't clutter it with unnecessary controls. It's also effortless to set up, and you can be up and running with Mezmo in a few minutes.
We recommend using Mezmo as a great alternative to AWS CloudWatch because it ticks all the boxes in terms of development experience, support, and integrations.
The monitoring and observability scene has produced many other alternatives to AWS CloudWatch. These are some of the other services:
- Datadog: This platform focuses on cloud monitoring and security. It tries to be a jack-of-all-trades for APM, offering many features and controls to run complex scenarios. You can use it as an AWS CloudWatch alternative if you consolidate monitoring of many services from different clouds together. However, their UI can be frustrating for new users when they are trying to learn how things work, and the sheer number of options and configuration steps to finish can be overwhelming.
- ELK Stack: This is an open-source stack from the Elastic company (which also offers Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana). It provides a finished product and can be very good. However, you will have to self-host it on your premises, and you are responsible for updating it and maintaining its reliability.
- NewRelic: This is more of a Datadog competitor and offers a similar set of tools for monitoring and observability. It’s extensive – if you want to gradually migrate everything into one product for monitoring different systems, both in and outside AWS.
All of these alternatives are fully-fledged platforms, but part of their scope sometimes lies outside the area of monitoring. If you are looking for a dedicated AWS CloudWatch alternative, Mezmo is the ideal tool. Mezmo delivers an excellent set of features that simplify the whole log management experience.