Cloud Services Comparison: AWS CloudWatch and Azure Monitor

6 Min Read

For organizations looking to scale their cloud footprint with Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), gaining visibility into both cloud and on-premises resources and monitoring performance and operational health is critical. 

Azure’s native monitoring service, Azure Monitor, and AWS’ equivalent, Amazon CloudWatch, are both transforming the way cloud teams are detecting and remediating issues with applications and infrastructure resources. Both cloud services consolidate massive amounts of data from cloud and on-premises sources, provide visualization and analysis, allow users to respond to issues quickly, and support a strong ecosystem of third-party solutions.  

Here’s a breakdown of Azure Monitor and Amazon CloudWatch, including the fundamental downfall with both cloud services.

What is Azure Monitor?

Azure Monitor is the native monitoring solution for Microsoft Azure aimed at helping users maximize the performance and availability of their applications and cloud services across their Azure ecosystem. 

To do this, Azure Monitor provides users with full observability into their cloud and on-premises environments, collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sources before storing the information to be later optimized for cost and performance.

The diagram below illustrates at a high-level, how Azure Monitor works:

overview of azure monitor
Source: Microsoft Azure

Once Azure Monitor has aggregated and stored this information, users are then able to visualize and analyze their cloud and on-premises data to quickly identify and remediate problems.

You can learn more about how Azure Monitor works by reading Azure’s product documentation here.

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Azure Monitor: Metrics vs Logs

As you continue to learn more about Azure Monitor, you’ll notice data is categorized as either metric or log data. Let’s explore the difference between the two.

Azure Monitor Metrics: Azure Monitor Metrics is a feature of Azure Monitor that collects numeric data from monitored resources into a time series database. Metrics are numerical values that are collected at regular intervals and describe some aspect of a system at a specific point in time. Metrics are lightweight and capable of supporting near real-time scenarios, making them useful for alerting and fast detection of issues.

Azure Monitor Logs: Azure Monitor Logs is a feature of Azure Monitor that collects and organizes log and performance data from monitored resources. Log data collected from different sources can be consolidated into a single workspace so they can be analyzed together. 

So what are the biggest differences between the two types? Data stored in Azure Monitor Metrics is more lightweight than data stored in Azure Monitor Logs and is capable of supporting near real-time scenarios—making Metrics useful for alerting and quickly detecting issues. 

Secondly, Azure Monitor Metrics can only be stored as numerical data in a particular structure, while Log data may store a variety of different data types, each with their own structure. Because of this, data collected by Azure Monitor Logs is analyzed with queries. 

You can learn more about Log queries and Azure Monitor’s version of the Kusto query language here.

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What is Amazon CloudWatch?

Amazon CloudWatch is the native monitoring service for AWS that provides users with a unified view of their AWS resources, applications, and services that run on AWS and on-premises servers.

CloudWatch provides users with observability and insights they need across their entire AWS ecosystem to help improve operational performance and resource optimization. 

The diagram below illustrates at a high level, how CloudWatch works:

overview of aws cloudwatch
Source: AWS

Similar to Azure Monitor, AWS CloudWatch helps users overcome the challenge of monitoring individual systems and applications (e.g. servers, networks, databases, etc.) by consolidating all performance and operational data in one place. 

CloudWatch also uses log and metric data to derive real-time insights into optimizing applications and infrastructure resources, and just like Azure Monitor, this includes containers and microservices. 

Both Azure Monitor and Amazon CloudWatch allow users to be proactively notified when issues are found within applications or infrastructure resources. Amazon CloudWatch Alarms (known as Alerts in Azure Monitor) monitor your metric values against thresholds predetermined by the user, or via machine learning models built to detect anomalous behavior. If an alarm is triggered, CloudWatch can distribute notifications and take corrective action, such as detecting and shutting down an unused or underutilized instance.

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Amazon CloudWatch: Prioritizing automation

Amazon CloudWatch prioritizes reducing overall mean-time-to-resolution for users looking to optimize cloud resource utilization with quick detection, notification, and remediation. This is especially helpful for organizations operating at scale with large cloud footprints.

After setting alerts with CloudWatch Alarms, users can automate responses to operational change with CloudWatch Events and Auto Scaling. Auto Scaling helps automate capacity and resource planning. Users can set an alarm on a key metric, such as CPU, to trigger an automated Auto Scaling action on their behalf. 

With CloudWatch Events, users can automate responses to operational changes. CloudWatch Events provide a near real-time stream of system events that describe changes in your AWS resources. Users can write custom rules to indicate which event is of interest to their application and what automated actions to take when a rule matches an event.

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So, Azure Monitor or Amazon CloudWatch?

Both cloud monitoring tools provide incredible depth of features and services for users on their respective native platforms, so it’s difficult to compare one against the other—you won’t be needing Amazon CloudWatch if you’re strictly running on Azure (and vice versa for Azure Monitor). 

That being said, as enterprises increasingly adopt multiple clouds to support their digital transformation efforts, cloud teams will find management of all their cloud services, resources, and tools—spread across different public clouds—extremely difficult. In fact, from our recent report analyzing actual cloud customer data, nearly 50% of organizations have adopted a multi-cloud strategy, with the majority of those using a combination of AWS and Azure.

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In order to successfully scale your cloud operations, cloud management needs to be agnostic—that is to say that your platform of choice should be able to collect, classify, and provide total visibility into all of your hybrid and public clouds, work with the industry’s leading partner ecosystem, and integrate with your organizations existing systems and services. This single pane of glass will allow your Cloud Center of Excellence to increase visibility, reduce costs, ensure proper administration and security, and maintain operational efficiency throughout your organization.

You can learn more about how CloudHealth differs from AWS and Azure native tools, including how CloudHealth works to govern, automate, and secure your multi-cloud environments, with the following resources: 

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CloudHealth Tech Staff, Cloud Tech Journalist

The CloudHealth Tech Staff team is made up of industry experts who report on trending cloud news, offer cloud management best practices, and compare products and services across the major cloud providers. As a part of CloudHealth, the CloudHealth Tech Staff come from all different backgrounds making them unique leaders in this industry.

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