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How an Online Business can measure what really matters using Amazon CloudWatch?

Contributed by Anoop P B on 31 May 2011

Last week, Amazon Web Services announced the addition of a new capability to their cloud based monitoring serviceCloudWatch. The new addition allows application developers and server administrators to push a custom metric into CloudWatch. Earlier there were only predefined metrics such as CPU usage or Memory. Now even the custom metrics (say number of visitors) can be plotted on a graph and the CloudWatch service trigger alerts upon hitting preset thresholds.

While this obviously allows administrators to now monitor various system parameters (such as memory or disk space) posted to CloudWatch from within an EC2 instance, what is more significant is that CloudWatch allows the metric to be anything – which means that the metric could be a business metric. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities allowing application programmers to easily monitor metrics such as number of sign-ups, e-commerce sales numbers, number of active sessions, number of defects, submissions of documents - all with a simple API call ! Cloud watch will then automatically track the metric to provide statistics, graphs & alarms. This allows businesses to spot trends and react to events.

Alarms can be triggered by email or pushed through a queue (Amazon SQS) for further processing and automated handling. This powerful new feature of CloudWatch scales automatically and provides new ways for programmers to quickly (and painlessly) plugin an excellent monitoring and alerting system into business applications. For example an interesting business case to develop will be to automatically scale up or down the Google AdSense budget linked to actual conversions happening.

Amazon continues to push the edge of innovation infrastructure and is keeping itself to building simple blocks which can be used in interesting combinations by endusers. Two cheers to that!

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