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CloudWatch, Azure Monitor, and Stackdriver


  • Amazon CloudWatch is the platform that monitors Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Azure Monitor is Microsoft’s built-in monitoring service for the performance and health of Azure resources. At its most basic level, the model is similar to Cloudwatch: Azure Monitor consumes the telemetry data (performance and log data) that all Azure services generate and allows the user to visualize, query, route, archive, and take actions on the data.
  • Stackdriver, Google’s offering for delivering cloud monitoring capabilities, differs from both Cloudwatch and Azure monitor in a number of ways. Firstly, Stackdriver embraces not only Google Cloud Platform (GCP) but also AWS, providing unified monitoring of the two cloud platforms. Google touts Stackdriver’s multi-cloud strategy and, given Amazon’s prominent standing, it certainly broadens Stackdriver’s appeal.


Stackdriver also includes a development (DevOPs) component in addition to IT monitoring. However, while the IT Operations functionality spans both AWS and GCP, the DevOPs functionality is Google-centric. Stackdriver is able to troubleshoot deployments on the Google platform with tracing and debugging functionality, and offers capabilities such as:

  • Stackdriver Monitoring measures the health of cloud resources and applications by providing visibility into metrics such as CPU usage, disk I/O, memory, network traffic and uptime. It is based on collectd, an open source daemon that collects system and application performance metrics. Users can receive customizable alerts when Stackdriver Monitoring discovers performance issues. It is used to monitor Google Compute Engine and Amazon EC2 VMs.
  • Stackdriver Error Reporting identifies and analyzes cloud application errors. A centralized error management interface provides IT teams with real-time visibility into production errors with cloud applications, as well as the ability to sort and filter content based on the number of error occurrences, when the error was first and last seen, and where the error is located.
  • Stackdriver Debugger inspects the state of an application, deployed in Google App Engine or Google Compute Engine, using production data and source code. During production, snapshots can be taken of an application’s state and linked back to a specific line location in the source code, without having to add logging statements. This inspection can occur without affecting the performance of the production application.
  • Stackdriver Trace collects network latency data from applications deployed in Google App Engine. Trace data is gathered, analyzed and used to create performance reports to identify network bottlenecks. Trace API and Trace SDK can be used to trace, analyze and optimize custom workloads, as well.
  • Stackdriver Logging provides real-time log management and analysis for cloud applications. Log data can be kept for longer periods of time by archiving it with Google Cloud Storage. The service works with both Google and AWS, and can gather logs from Google Compute Engine, Google App Engine and Amazon EC2.

Stackdriver Monitor

Stackdriver Monitoring collects metrics, events, and metadata from Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), hosted uptime probes, application instrumentation, and a variety of common application components including Cassandra, Nginx, Apache Web Server, Elasticsearch and many others. Stackdriver ingests that data and generates insights via dashboards, charts, and alerts.

Monitoring Agent

The Monitoring agent is a collectd-based daemon that gathers system and application metrics from virtual machine instances and sends them to Stackdriver Monitoring. By default, the Monitoring agent collects disk, CPU, network, and process metrics. You can configure the Monitoring agent to monitor third-party applications to get the full list of agent metrics.

Using the Monitoring agent is optional but recommended. Stackdriver Monitoring can access some metrics without the Monitoring agent, including CPU utilization, some disk traffic metrics, network traffic, and uptime information. Stackdriver Monitoring uses the Monitoring agent to access additional system resources and application services in virtual machine (VM) instances. If you want these additional capabilities, you should install the Monitoring agent.

Uptime Checks

Stackdriver can verify the availability of your service by accessing it from locations around the world. You can use the results from these uptime checks in your alerting policies, or you can directly monitor the results in the Stackdriver Monitoring uptime-check dashboards.


Alerting gives timely awareness to problems in your cloud applications so you can resolve the problems quickly.

You use the Stackdriver Monitoring Console to set up alerting policies. Each policy specifies the following:

  • Conditions that identify an unhealthy state for a resource or a group of resources.
  • Optional notifications sent through email, SMS, or other channels to let your support team know a resource is unhealthy.
  • Optional documentation that can be included in some types of notifications to help your support team resolve the issue.

When events trigger conditions in one of your alerting policies, Stackdriver Monitoring creates and displays an incident in the Stackdriver Monitoring Console. If you set up notifications, Stackdriver Monitoring also sends notifications to people or third-party notification services. Responders can acknowledge receipt of the notification, but the incident remains open until resources are no longer in an unhealthy state.