AWS Cloudtrail vs CloudWatch: Which is Better in 2022

We can use Amazon CloudWatch to collect and monitor metrics, log files, trigger alerts, and automatically react to changes in AWS resources. On the other hand,  AWS CloudTrail is a service for managing the governance, risk auditing, operational auditing, and compliance of an AWS account. This article aims to explain the differences between the two services. After reading this article, you should have a solid idea of what each service does and how they vary.

What is AWS CloudWatch?

AWS CloudWatch is a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and applications. AWS CloudWatch is an AWS service that combines several monitoring tools into a single package. For example, a CloudWatch Alarm can be programmed to activate when one or more CloudWatch Metrics change status or threshold.

By using arithmetic or percentile-based expressions, you may configure the CloudWatch Alarm to assess a set of metrics.

What are the Monitoring tools used in AWS CloudWatch?

  1. Events – An event can be used to initiate an action. For example, when a resource fails, we might build an event that sends an email to the administrator. First, you decide how and when an action should be performed. Then you decide what action should be taken. As a result, CloudWatch events are quite valuable.
  2. Alarms – You must establish a threshold, a condition, and what should be triggered when using alarms. The most common case is a billing alarm. If the predicted costs are above the threshold, an alert will be triggered.
  3. Logs – CloudWatch logs let you save log files from various sources, including EC2 instances, CloudTrail, and more. These logs may then be used to identify problems, leaks, and trends, among other things.

AWS Cloudwatch use cases

  1. Monitoring and troubleshooting: Let’s imagine you observe that one of your EC2 apps is operating slower than usual. You might utilize the Cloudwatch metrics for that Ec2 instance to evaluate things like CPU utilization, disc read/write operations, network, and so on to see whether it’s an infrastructure issue. Cloudwatch also allows you to explore and analyze your application logs to aid with application troubleshooting.
  2. Resource Allocation and Management: Cloudwatch can help you understand which resources are overused or underused, allowing you to allocate resources and costs better.
  3. Automated response: You can also set alarms that are activated when a metric reaches a specific threshold and automatically trigger a response action. You might, for example, set the alarm to go off when CPU use reaches 80% and have it immediately launch extra instances into your autoscaling group.

What is AWS CloudTrail?

AWS CloudTrail keeps track of every API call made inside your Amazon environment. Each call is treated as an event and is written to an S3 bucket in batches. These Cloudtrail events include information on the request, the answer, the user who made the request, and whether the API calls occurred from the AWS Console, CLI, a third-party application, or another AWS Service.

CloudTrail contains details like – What steps were taken? Who was the one who did it? When was the action taken? Where did the action take place? For example, consider the case when your S3 bucket was accidentally erased. AWS CloudTrail can help you figure out who removed the bucket, when they did it, and where.

AWS CloudTrail use cases

  1. Anomaly Detection: Cloudtrail Insights allows you to identify and create alerts for spikes or unexpected behavior of applications. 
  2. Security, compliance, and risk auditing: Cloudtrail provides an event history in case you need to review previous occurrences. For example, if a user account is suspected of being hacked, Cloudtrail may be used to examine all of that person’s activity. CloudTrail may also be used in concert with other services to initiate a response to specific events.
  3. Troubleshooting: Cloudtrail may be utilized to figure out what’s causing some operational issues. Cloudtrail, for example, lets you look at the event history to see which resources were recently created, removed, or updated, as well as who made the changes.

AWS CloudWatch vs CloudTrail: Main Difference

The main difference between AWS Cloudwatch and Cloudtrail is that Cloudwatch is primarily involved with events occurring on Amazon Web Services(AWS) services. Cloudtrail is predominantly interested in who and what is done on AWS.

AWS CloudWatch vs CloudTrail: Information collected

You can gather and track metrics, collect and monitor log files, and create alarms with CloudWatch. CloudTrail keeps track of who made a request, what services were utilized, what actions were taken, what parameters were used, and what response elements the AWS service delivered. After that, CloudTrail Logs are stored in an S3 bucket or a CloudWatch Logs log group that you select.

AWS CloudWatch vs CloudTrail: Data delivery time

CloudTrail typically delivers an event within 15 minutes after receiving an API call. For essential monitoring, CloudWatch sends metric data every 5 minutes, and for thorough monitoring, every 1 minute. By default, the CloudWatch Logs Agent sends log data every five seconds.

AWS CloudWatch vs CloudTrail: Pricing

You can use Amazon CloudWatch for free to get started. Most AWS services (EC2, S3, Kinesis, and so on) submit metrics to CloudWatch automatically and for free. As a result, many applications should be able to work within the free tier restrictions. You can also upgrade to a premium plan, the cost of which is determined by what you use.

Typically, EC2 Detailed Monitoring costs $2.10 per month per instance (assuming seven metrics per instance), with the lowest priced tier costing $0.14 per instance.

You can send one copy of your ongoing management events to Amazon S3 for free by generating cloud trails. This allows you to save events from the previous 90 days in S3. It also has a premium plan where you pay for what you use and no minimum fee.

Wrapping up

AWS CloudWatch is a fantastic service for keeping track of the performance and metrics of your AWS resources and apps. It aids in the enhancement and scaling of your apps. It also allows you to stick to a budget and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Consider CloudWatch as a person who keeps an eye on your apps to ensure they’re running well and at the cheapest possible pricing. And the main purpose of AWS CloudTrail is to keep track of what’s going on in your AWS environment.

CloudTrail also helps with compliance by giving a history of activities in your AWS environment. As a result, it’s simple to guarantee that your company follows regulatory guidelines and internal procedures.

That’s it for this post.

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