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AWS Monitoring Dashboard with CloudWatch: Step-By-Step

April 25, 2021

Topics: Cloud Insights AWS5 minute read

What is an AWS Monitoring Dashboard?

An AWS monitoring dashboard can help you visualize system performance and interpret metrics for your AWS services and workloads. The dashboard can provide a single view of your resources, aggregate information across your deployment. In this article, we’ll explain how to create a monitoring dashboard with AWS CloudWatch.

Related content: read our guide to cloud watch monitoring  (coming soon)

In this article, you will learn:

Building an AWS Monitoring Dashboard with CloudWatch

When you want to create dashboards in CloudWatch, you can rely on the pre-built options or manually create ones. Either way, to add dashboards to your CloudWatch console, you can directly use the console, create one through CLI commands, or use the API call PutDashboard.

As you create your dashboard, you can add a variety of widgets to suit your purpose. The base of dashboards is a 24 cell grid upon which you can place widgets. The widgets are visualizations that can contain text, numeric queries, stacked area charts, or timelines.

Depending on your configurations, you can create dashboards suited to a variety of purposes, including:

  • A single view for specific metrics or alarms across your resources. For example, you can show the health of resources with color-coding for specific metrics across graphs.
  • A “map” of resources by region.
  • A playbook to guide IT teams through diagnosing issues.
  • An incident-specific view of relevant metrics.

Creating an AWS CloudWatch Dashboard Using the AWS Console

Following is a brief walkthrough explaining how to create a CloudWatch dashboard from the Console. This guide is adapted from the AWS documentation, which you can see here.

Creating an AWS CloudWatch dashboard

  1. Navigate to the CloudWatch Console page and select Dashboards from the navigation.

  1. Select Create dashboard and fill in the name in the dialog. When you’re done, click Create Dashboard again.

  • The name determines where your dashboard appears. CloudWatch-Default will cause it to show up on your main console page while CloudWatch-Default-{ResourceGroupName} causes it to show up when you focus on the named group.
  1. Add your first widget from the Add to this dashboard dialog. Depending on the widget you want, you can perform the following. When you’re done, choose Create widget.
  • Add a text block—select Text and Configure. Add your desired text through the Markdown option.
  • Add a single metric—select Number and Configure. Select the metric you want to display.
  • Add a graph—select your graph type (Stacked area or Line) and Configure. Select your metric. If the metric you want isn’t displayed, you can add it manually.
  1. If you want to add additional widgets to your dashboard, you can by selecting Add widget. Repeat the above step until all needed widgets are added and select Save dashboard.

Adding an Alarm Widget to a CloudWatch Dashboard

In addition to metrics and graph information, you may want to add alarm widgets to your dashboard. You can do this as a single alarm widget that displays the alarm status and metric graph together.

Or, you can add a multi widget that shows the status of multiple alarms. If you choose the multi widget, you can only see the alarm status and name, not the graph. You can have up to 100 alarms per multi widget.

Adding a single alarm widget

  1. From the CloudWatch Console select Alarms to see your available options.
  2. Choose the alarm you want to add and click Add to Dashboard.
  3. Choose the dashboard to modify and select the widget type. Once selected, click Add to the dashboard.
  4. Once added, you can change your widget by hovering your cursor over the graph and selecting Widget actions > Widget type.

Adding an alarm status widget

  1. From the CloudWatch Console select Dashboards and choose the dashboard to modify.
  2. Select Add widget and click Alarm status.
  3. Choose the alarms that you want to include and select Create widget.
  4. Click Add to dashboard.

Removing widgets

  1. From CloudWatch Console select the dashboard to modify.
  2. Hover your cursor over the widget you want to remove and select Widget actions > Delete.
  3. Once done, click Save dashboard.

CloudWatch Dashboard Best Practices

The purpose of dashboards is to display information in an easy-to-understand way. When creating a dashboard make sure only to add widgets that are relevant to the goal of the board. Additionally, make sure not to overcrowd the board with widgets. If you add too much information, the dashboard will be more difficult to interpret.

If you find that your dashboard can’t display all the information you need, you can link dashboards. This enables you to show high-level information on the main dash while letting users select specialized dashboards as needed.

When building your primary dashboard, consider the following:

  • Your board should focus on top-level service information
  • Widgets should be simple and easy to interpret
  • You should only include the most important metrics
  • Prioritize widgets by placing them at the top of your board with less important widgets in linked dashboards or below the “fold” (i.e. users can scroll down to see them)

Additional factors to consider include:

  • You may want to create dashboards with local times rather than UTC. Regardless of what time zone you use, make sure it is clearly indicated to avoid confusion.
  • Add annotations to your widgets to indicate important values or thresholds. For example, marking service level agreement (SLA) values.
  • Choose the statistics you add carefully. You need to make sure that the values shown are relevant and that it is clear what is being indicated. For example, a statistic for maximum throughput is not helpful if you want to monitor average performance.

Related content: read our guide to AWS monitoring best practices 

AWS Monitoring Dashboard with NetApp Cloud Insights

NetApp Cloud Insights is an infrastructure monitoring tool that gives you visibility into your complete infrastructure. With Cloud Insights, you can monitor, troubleshoot and optimize all your resources including your public clouds and your private data centers.

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Cloud Insights helps you find problems fast before they impact your business. Optimize usage so you can defer spend, do more with your limited budgets, detect ransomware attacks before it’s too late, and easily report on data access for security compliance auditing.

In particular, NetApp Cloud Insights provides a Dashboard Gallery that helps you create relevant dashboards instantly, or customize dashboards quickly to suit your needs.

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