What is Amazon RDS?

Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) is used by 47% of companies on AWS as a fast, secure, and cost-effective component of a modern cloud infrastructure. RDS provides six familiar database engines, including popular open-source options like PostgreSQL, MySQL, and MariaDB. Like other AWS services, RDS makes it easy to manage capacity and scale into thousands of requests per second and terabytes of data under management.  

Limitations of Amazon CloudWatch

CloudWatch is Amazon’s default tool for monitoring AWS services, but it has many known limitations. It lacks advanced analytical features such as calculated fields and dynamic alert thresholds. CloudWatch can’t correlate metrics across your stack to solve problems or identify service-level trends, and sending custom metrics and events typically requires a lot of extra instrumentation and configuration. With only two weeks of retention, CloudWatch also doesn’t provide enough historical context to meaningfully discern a normal change from a performance concern.


Amazon RDS Monitoring

SignalFx provides real-time cloud monitoring and intelligent alerting on AWS metrics as they stream from RDS, aggregated with metrics from the rest of the services in your environment, retained for 13 months to see changes over time. You also get a built-in Amazon RDS monitoring dashboard right out of the box so you can see the metrics that matter to performance without guesswork or painful trial-and-error.

Cluster Health: A better health indicator than availability is whether instances are responding to requests in an expected time and without errors. If your queries take too long, you’re not getting enough value from the database, and your end-users may not be getting value from your product.

Resource Usage & System Errors: Databases can become unavailable due to hitting limits on resource usage, including the table size limit in MySQL, the max number of database connections allowed per instance, and capacity constraints during periods of peak demand.

RDS & Database Limits: RDS databases include limits from RDS as a whole, and for each specific database engine like MySQL. To optimize your performance, monitor whether your database is heavier on reads (e.g., select) or writes (e.g., insert, update, delete).

The SignalFx Difference

Predictive Capacity Management: Trigger alerts on service-level patterns so you’re notified with enough time to fix an impending issue well before it affects performance or availability. For example, SignalFx’s built-in dashboard for RDS automatically uses trend analysis to determine disk space and the number of days of capacity you have left.

Aggregated Metrics Across the Stack: While CloudWatch is good at collecting data from AWS systems, it doesn’t easily correlate data from your applications and other in-house systems. With validated plugins for a wide range of data sources, you can correlate Amazon RDS with metrics from your open-source microservices, as well as custom app components and on-prem systems for a service-level view of your infrastructure in production. 

Amazon RDS Metrics

# DB Instances

# DBs by Class

Engine Names for 
All DB Instances
Read Latency
Read Throughput
Write IOPS
Write Latency
Write Throughput
CPU Utilization

Database Connections

Network Receive 
Network Transmit 


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