Prometheus vs. CloudWatch

April 20, 2019

Table of Contents:


  • What is Prometheus?
  • What is CloudWatch?
  • When to use Hosted Prometheus by MetricFire? 
  • When to use CloudWatch?
  • Pricing comparison
  • Key takeaways? 


What is Prometheus?


Source: https://prometheus.io/assets/architecture.png


Prometheus is an open-source monitoring system built around a time series database, able to receive data and store it, in addition to supporting queries, graphs, and in-built alerting. Connecting to target endpoints to request metrics via HTTP, Prometheus provides a multi-dimensional data model wherein metrics can be defined by names and/or tags which identify them as part of a unique time series. Open-source Prometheus metrics have a default retention of 15 days, though with Hosted Prometheus by MetricFire data can be stored for up to 2 years. The Prometheus query language (PromQL) can then be used to explore metrics and draw simple graphs. 


What is CloudWatch?



CloudWatch is an AWS service for monitoring and managing infrastructure systems or application performance. The resources can be on AWS, on-premises or a combination of both. The application performance data and the infrastructure monitoring information can be simultaneously displayed on the same dashboard, as either logs or metrics. CloudWatch does everything from collecting the metrics and logs to monitoring, alerting and analyzing. CloudWatch has both the Alarms and Events functions, which notifies you in the case where specific conditions are realized. CloudWatch charges on a pay-per-metric basis, where the cost for processing large amounts of metrics can grow substantially higher than competing monitoring solutions. 


When to use Hosted Prometheus by MetricFire?


Use Hosted Prometheus when you …

  • need a time-series database monitoring solution.
  • need long-term storage for Prometheus metrics.
  • need to use tags/labels for metrics.
  • need to run alerts across different data sources.
  • want to use and query both Prometheus and Graphite though Grafana all as a part of the same service.


When to use CloudWatch?


Use CloudWatch when you …

  • are already using other AWS services and need to monitor them, such as Lambda.
  • are a larger company that can benefit from premium services that cover a lot of different areas.
  • do not need a broad variety of visualization tools.


Pricing comparison

  • Prometheus is open source, and free.
  • Business-ready Prometheus as a Service by MetricFire, including Hosted Prometheus, Hosted Graphite AND Grafana, starts at 99 USD a month.
  • CloudWatch is proprietary and starts with a free tier.   
  • For large amounts of metrics, CloudWatch grows to be substantially more expensive than competitors. 


Key takeaways


  • Prometheus can provide a dimensional data model where metrics are identified by a metric name and tags with built-in storage, graphing and alerting.
  • Prometheus is open source, and free.
  • AWS CloudWatch is an excellent service that comes at a price. 


Get to know our Hosted Prometheus better, and check out how MetricFire can fit into your monitoring environment!


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