In this article, the screenshots and the GUI navigation described are not yet updated to Checkmk version 2.0.0. However, nothing fundamental has changed in the described functions themselves and most of the functions can be found quickly with the Monitor or Setup menu search of the Checkmk 2.0.0 user interface. We will update this article as soon as possible.
According to a survey among our users, Amazon Web Services is currently the most important provider of cloud-based Services, so goes without saying that Checkmk must here provide excellent monitoring.
Checkmk contains a comprehensive monitoring for AWS which consists of a connector to AWS and an impressive collection of check plug-ins consisting of various metrics for the retrieval and evaluation of states. Because of the amount of check plug-ins only some of them, to show the AWS web services that Checkmk can currently monitor:
For a complete, up-to-date list of all available plug-ins, see the Check plug-ins Catalog.
2. Concrete Implementation of AWS Monitoring
2.1. Hosts and services
In Checkmk all objects to be monitored are arranged in a hierarchical structure of hosts and services. The concept of hosts does not exist in cloud-based services. However to retain the simplicity and consistency of Checkmk, we still map AWS objects according to the host/service schema.
How that is achieved can best be illustrated by an example: In one region several EC2 instances have been configured. An EC2 is usually assigned to EBS. This constellation looks like this in Checkmk:
There is a host that matches the AWS account. This host gives an overview of all EC2 instances and their status as a service.
The EC2 instances themselves are their own hosts.
On these EC2 hosts you can find services with the actual metrics.
The EBS are interpreted as a type of hard disk, and accordingly provide metrics to I/O (e.g., the number of bytes read or written). For this purpose, in each EBS there are separate services in Checkmk with the name
AWS/EBS Disk IOwhich are assigned to the EC2 instance.
2.2. Access to AWS
An agent is actually not necessary for monitoring AWS services since AWS provides an HTTP-based API over which monitoring data is also available.
Checkmk accesses this API via the
agent_aws ‘Special Agent’ — which replaces the Checkmk agent — but in contrast this agent runs locally on the
3. Preparing AWS
3.1. Creating the user
To enable monitoring via Checkmk, it is best to achieve it by creating a
special AWS user under your root account.
to AWS as the root user, and navigate to Security, Identity, & Compliance > IAM (Identity and Access Management).
Go to Users and create a new user with Add User.
As a user name choose, for example,
It is important that you select the Programmatic Access for Access Type.
Under no circumstances should the user receive any rights for modifying the monitoring.
You can simply assign the single policy ReadOnlyAccess to the user
(or you could take the trouble to restrict the account with more detailed policies):
After completing the user creation an access key will be generated
automatically for you. Note: The key’s secret is displayed only
once — directly after its creation. Therefore without fail copy the key and
save it, for example, in the Checkmk password store. Alternatively specify
it in plain text as a rule (see below). For Checkmk you need the Access Key ID
in addition to the secret. The name of the user (in our example
check-mk) does not matter here.
If for some reason you should lose the secret, you can create a new access key for the user and get a new secret:
3.4. Access to Billing-Information
If you want Checkmk to have read access for the billing information (in order to perform the Costs and Usage global check), you need another policy for your AWS user — a policy you yourself must first define.
Under Security, Identity, & Compliance > IAM > Policies select the Create Policy button. Select from Select a Service > Service > Choose a Service the Billing service. Under Actions tick the Read checkbox. We have to set an additional permission. Add one via the Add additional permissions button. Select from Select a Service > Service > Choose a Service the Cost Explorer Service service. Under Actions again tick the Read checkbox.
Click Review to go to step two. Set
BillingViewAccess as the Name,
and save it with the Create policy button.
You must now add this new policy to the user.
Go again to Security, Identity, & Compliance > IAM > Policies — in the
Filter Policies search box look for
BillingViewAccess, select this by clicking in the circle to the left, and then go to Policy actions > Attach.
Here you will find your
select this and confirm it with Attache policy. The following message will be received once it has been executed successfully:
4. Configuring the monitoring in Checkmk
4.1. Create a host for AWS in Checkmk
Now create a host to monitor AWS in Checkmk. You can assign the hostname as you wish. Important: Because AWS is not a service it has no IP-address or DNS name (access is granted by the special agent itself), so you need to set the IP Address Family to No IP.
4.2. Create a rule for AWS agents
AWS cannot be queried through the regular Checkmk agent, so next set up the AWS Special Agent. To do so, under Host & Service Parameters > Datasource Programs > Amazon Web Services (AWS) add a rule whose conditions apply only to the just-created AWS-host.
For the actual content of the rule, you first need to find the information
for the login. Here enter the Access Key ID for the newly-created AWS user
Also choose here which global data you want to monitor,
i.e., those that are independent of a region. That is currently
only the data relating to the costs:
The really interesting data is assigned to regions. Therefore here select your AWS region(s):
Under Service by region to monitor you specify which information you want to retrieve from these regions. At default all AWS web services and the monitoring of their limits are activated. In the following screenshot are all but one deactivated to get a better overview:
You now can restrict the fetched data per web service or globally with Restrict moinitoring services by one of these tags. The global restriction will be overwritten , if you restrict by web service! Also you not only have the option to restrict by AWS tags but additionally to specify the explicit names:
Don’t forget to assign the special agent to the previously created host by entering that host name in Conditions > Explicit hosts.
4.3. Services on the AWS host itself
Now go to the service discovery of the newly created AWS host, where WATO should now find several services. After you add the services, after an Activate Changes it will look something like this :
4.4. Create hosts for the EC2 instances
Services associated with EC2 instances do not become the AWS host, rather they become so-called piggyback hosts. This works in such a way that data retrieved from the AWS host is distributed to these hosts, and they work without their own monitoring agents. Each EC2 instance will be assigned to a piggy-host, the name for the EC2 instance will be derived from the private DNS name.
The piggy-hosts are not automatically created by Checkmk. Create these hosts either manually or — from Version 1.6.0 — optionally with the new Dynamic Configuration Daemon (DCD). It is important that the names of the hosts exactly match the private DNS names of the EC2 instance — they are also case-sensitive!
By the way – with the auxiliary script
find_piggy_orphans from the
Treasures Directory you can find all of the piggy-hosts for which there are data
even if the hosts themselves have not yet been created as hosts in Checkmk:
OMD[mysite]:~$ share/doc/check_mk/treasures/find_piggy_orphans ip-172-31-44-50.eu-central-1.compute.internal ip-172-31-44-51.eu-central-1.compute.internal
Configure the EC2 hosts without IP addresses (analogous to the Azure host), and select No Agent as the agent.
4.5. Hosts for the ELB (Classic Load Balancer)
The services for the ELB are also assigned to piggy-hosts. The names correspond to their DNS names.
4.6. Monitoring limits
Some web services of AWS do have limits and Checkmk is able to monitor them. Here some examples:
As soon as such a check plug-in creates Services and checks them later on, the special agent will always fetch all elements of the web service that has the activated limits monitoring. Only in this case Checkmk is able to compute reasonably the utilization and check the thresholds. That’s also the case even if you restrict the fetched data by some tags or names.
The checking of the limits is activated by default for each monitored web service. If you want to restrict the fetched data in special agent rule to limit the amount of transferred data, you need to deactivate the monitoring of the limits, too.
4.7. Further services
The other services in AWS are assigned as follows:
Costs & Usage
At the AWS host
Appended to the EC2 instance if it belongs to the instance, otherwise to the AWS host
At the AWS-Host
At the AWS-Host