Combining CloudCheckr and New Relic for AWS Visibility and Cost Management

This is a guest blog post from Aaron Klein, co-founder and COO at CloudCheckr, a New Relic partner. CloudCheckr helps you reduce your Amazon bill and save time managing your AWS deployment with their cost and usage reporting and analytics.

Here at CloudCheckr we receive constant feedback and ideas from our customers. One of the most common requests we’ve had was integrating with New Relic. While we focus on the infrastructure, New Relic provides the best application monitoring around – and it’s not a surprise that many of our customers saw the value in being able to integrate results from CloudCheckr into their New Relic dashboards. We agreed with our customers that New Relic seemed like a perfect fit.

So, we are excited to announce the availability of our AWS Analytics, Controls, Best Practices plugin for the New Relic Platform. 

The initial release of the CloudCheckr plugin for New Relic highlights two specific areas: tracking your EC2 instance usage and tracking your AWS Costs. As your AWS infrastructure grows, managing either of these becomes complex and tedious. Most people starting using AWS with a small number of instances and a few hundred dollars of monthly spend. As this grows to thousands of resources across multiple applications and environments, keeping a firm grasp on your deployment becomes increasingly more difficult. The combination of New Relic and CloudCheckr gives you the capability to grow with AWS and maintain control. Users are able to cross-reference more of what’s running in their environment, perform root cause analysis of problems, and improve their entire stack’s performance.

Resource Tags are one of the most important tools for managing Amazon Web Services. Tagging is important because of the ephemeral, dynamic nature of the cloud. EC2 instances are constantly started and stopped. IP Addresses change. Auto scaling groups scale up and down. Monitoring becomes problematic because the resources to monitor are constantly changing.

Resource Tags alleviate this problem by creating virtual groups and classes of resources, allowing for easy measurement and management. With New Relic, you can identify performance issues. With CloudCheckr, you can track, understand, and monitor the underlying infrastructure resources. CloudCheckr will also provide visibility into the resources cost structures to ensure that you are optimizing performance of them from all perspectives.

Setting up your New Relic Plugin

Let’s start by getting the CloudCheckr plugin for New Relic up and running. The only thing you’ll need is an account on New Relic and CloudCheckr, and the AWS account to monitor. If you don’t have a New Relic account, you can sign up for a free upgraded account through our partnership at newrelic.com/cloudcheckr.

Connecting your CloudCheckr account to New Relic is a snap. Just follow these six simple steps and you’re good to go:

1. Login to your CloudCheckr account at https://app.cloudcheckr.com.

2. Load the CloudCheckr project that you want to connect to New Relic, or create a new Project.

3. In the project, click ‘Project Settings’ and then click ‘New Relic Plugin’.

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4. Click ‘Enable CloudCheckr Plugin for New Relic’ and enter your New Relic license key.

5. Select the CloudCheckr Metrics to push to New Relic.

6. Click ‘Save Settings’.

For more information click here: http://support.cloudcheckr.com/new-relic-plugin

Viewing the CloudCheckr Dashboard in New Relic

You won’t need to do anything in New Relic to start seeing the CloudCheckr dashboard (you’ll only need to get the New Relic License Key and use that in the steps above). Within a few minutes of configuring the plugin, you should start to see CloudCheckr show up in the left menu in New Relic.

When you access the CloudCheckr plugin within New Relic, you will see each of the AWS accounts in CloudCheckr that you have configured to push results to New Relic. Click the account to view the details on that account. This will present you with a main dashboard containing 5 charts; 3 on cost and 2 on EC2 instances.

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Below is a description of each chart:

EC2 Instances By Tag: Shows how many instances you are running, grouped by resource tags. This is especially useful for monitoring and understanding how your auto scaling groups are fluctuating. Tag everything for an application and then monitor the number of instances as they are scaled up or down. Compare to the Costs By Tag chart to cross reference your spend as you scale up and down.

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EC2 Instances By Type: Shows how many instances you are running, grouped by the instance type (e.g. t1.micro, m1.xlarge). Allows you to track your EC2 usage with visibility into the sizes of the instances.

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Costs By Tag: Shows you your month-to-date spend filtered by user-defined tags. Allows you to track the costs for an application (by tagging all the resources for a specific application). Can be cross-referenced with your applications defined in New Relic as well as with the EC2 Instance By Tag chart above.

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Costs By Region: Shows you your month-to-date spend grouped by region. Allows you to see how your spend is occurring across regions.

Costs By Service: Shows you your month-to-date spend grouped by service (e.g. EC2, RDS, S3). Allows you to see how your spend is occurring for the specific services.

Setting up tags

In order to get the data you want filtered down to the tags you want, you will need to go into CloudCheckr and select those tags. This is important. For instance, if you want to monitor the cost for the customer Acme, you should ensure you are tagging everything related to that customer in AWS with a tag such as [TagName: Customer][TagValue: Acme]. Within CloudCheckr you can configure the plugin to push the costs for that specific tag to New Relic.

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Once that’s configured, you can go into the CloudCheckr dashboard in New Relic and see the costs for this specific tag. You can now track all your application level performance metrics for the customer through New Relic and compare them to the Cost from CloudCheckr for the customer.

More metrics coming soon!

This first release of the CloudCheckr Plugin for New Relic allows you to track EC2 Instances and Costs based on factors such as tags, regions, services, and instance type. We are committed to building out the metrics pushed to New Relic, including:

    • Additional services, starting with RDS, S3, EMR, and DynamoDB
    • CloudWatch metrics based on tags

Most importantly, we want to hear from you. Go try out the plugin and let us know your experience. Let us know if there are specific AWS metrics you want to see in the plugin. Also, please leave us a review in the plugin directory.

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their biographical details at the top of the post above. View posts by .

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