Using AWS CloudWatch in Grafana

Grafana ships with built in support for CloudWatch. You just have to add it as a data source and you will be ready to build dashboards for you CloudWatch metrics.

Adding the data source to Grafana

  1. Open the side menu by clicking the Grafana icon in the top header.
  2. In the side menu under the Dashboards link you should find a link named Data Sources.
  3. Click the + Add data source button in the top header.
  4. Select Cloudwatch from the Type dropdown.

NOTE: If at any moment you have issues with getting this datasource to work and Grafana is giving you undescriptive errors then don’t forget to check your log file (try looking in /var/log/grafana/grafana.log).

NameDescription
NameThe data source name. This is how you refer to the data source in panels & queries.
DefaultDefault data source means that it will be pre-selected for new panels.
Credentials profile nameSpecify the name of the profile to use (if you use ~/aws/credentials file), leave blank for default.
Default RegionUsed in query editor to set region (can be changed on per query basis)
Custom Metrics namespaceSpecify the CloudWatch namespace of Custom metrics
Assume Role ArnSpecify the ARN of the role to assume

Authentication

IAM Roles

Currently all access to CloudWatch is done server side by the Grafana backend using the official AWS SDK. If you grafana server is running on AWS you can use IAM Roles and authentication will be handled automatically.

Checkout AWS docs on IAM Roles

AWS credentials file

Create a file at ~/.aws/credentials. That is the HOME path for user running grafana-server. > NOTE: If you think you have the credentials file in the right place but it is still not working then you might try moving your .aws file to ‘/usr/share/grafana/’ and make sure your credentials file has at most 0644 permissions.

Example content:

[default]
aws_access_key_id = asdsadasdasdasd
aws_secret_access_key = dasdasdsadasdasdasdsa
region = us-west-2

Metric Query Editor

You need to specify a namespace, metric, at least one stat, and at least one dimension.

Templated queries

Instead of hard-coding things like server, application and sensor name in you metric queries you can use variables in their place. Variables are shown as dropdown select boxes at the top of the dashboard. These dropdowns makes it easy to change the data being displayed in your dashboard.

Checkout the Templating documentation for an introduction to the templating feature and the different types of template variables.

Query variable

CloudWatch Datasource Plugin provides the following queries you can specify in the Query field in the Variable edit view. They allow you to fill a variable’s options list with things like region, namespaces, metric names and dimension keys/values.

NameDescription
regions()Returns a list of regions AWS provides their service.
namespaces()Returns a list of namespaces CloudWatch support.
metrics(namespace, [region])Returns a list of metrics in the namespace. (specify region for custom metrics)
dimension_keys(namespace)Returns a list of dimension keys in the namespace.
dimension_values(region, namespace, metric, dimension_key)Returns a list of dimension values matching the specified region, namespace, metric and dimension_key.
ebs_volume_ids(region, instance_id)Returns a list of volume ids matching the specified region, instance_id.
ec2_instance_attribute(region, attribute_name, filters)Returns a list of attributes matching the specified region, attribute_name, filters.

For details about the metrics CloudWatch provides, please refer to the CloudWatch documentation.

Examples templated Queries

Example dimension queries which will return list of resources for individual AWS Services:

QueryService
dimension_values(us-east-1,AWS/ELB,RequestCount,LoadBalancerName)ELB
dimension_values(us-east-1,AWS/ElastiCache,CPUUtilization,CacheClusterId)ElastiCache
dimension_values(us-east-1,AWS/Redshift,CPUUtilization,ClusterIdentifier)RedShift
dimension_values(us-east-1,AWS/RDS,CPUUtilization,DBInstanceIdentifier)RDS
dimension_values(us-east-1,AWS/S3,BucketSizeBytes,BucketName)S3

ec2_instance_attribute examples

JSON filters

The ec2_instance_attribute query takes filters in JSON format. You can specify pre-defined filters of ec2:DescribeInstances. Note that the actual filtering takes place on Amazon’s servers, not in Grafana.

Filters syntax:

{ filter_name1: [ filter_value1 ], filter_name2: [ filter_value2 ] }

Example ec2_instance_attribute() query

ec2_instance_attribute(us-east-1, InstanceId, { "tag:Environment": [ "production" ] })

Selecting Attributes

Only 1 attribute per instance can be returned. Any flat attribute can be selected (i.e. if the attribute has a single value and isn’t an object or array). Below is a list of available flat attributes:

  • AmiLaunchIndex
  • Architecture
  • ClientToken
  • EbsOptimized
  • EnaSupport
  • Hypervisor
  • IamInstanceProfile
  • ImageId
  • InstanceId
  • InstanceLifecycle
  • InstanceType
  • KernelId
  • KeyName
  • LaunchTime
  • Platform
  • PrivateDnsName
  • PrivateIpAddress
  • PublicDnsName
  • PublicIpAddress
  • RamdiskId
  • RootDeviceName
  • RootDeviceType
  • SourceDestCheck
  • SpotInstanceRequestId
  • SriovNetSupport
  • SubnetId
  • VirtualizationType
  • VpcId

Tags can be selected by prepending the tag name with Tags.

Example ec2_instance_attribute() query

ec2_instance_attribute(us-east-1, Tags.Name, { "tag:Team": [ "sysops" ] })

Cost

Amazon provides 1 million CloudWatch API requests each month at no additional charge. Past this, it costs $0.01 per 1,000 GetMetricStatistics or ListMetrics requests. For each query Grafana will issue a GetMetricStatistics request and every time you pick a dimension in the query editor Grafana will issue a ListMetrics request.