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Monitor your applications with Fugo TV Dashboards and CloudWatch
AWS CloudWatch provides you and your DevOps team with a convenient, powerful single point of truth to observe all of your applications from. It can help you monitor and get deep insights into solutions built on a huge range of AWS services, including Lambda, S3 and DynamoDB. CloudWatch also provides an API so that you can extend it to monitor other resources — very handy!
One of the ways CloudWatch provides you with such a comprehensive oversight of your services and solutions is by providing you with new information every single minute, and even allowing you to get more granular by drilling down to each second. CloudWatch is an incredibly powerful tool, and a must-have for teams that are serious about scaling their solutions and building complex applications on AWS services.
AWS CloudWatch and Fugo TV Dashboards
With a serious monitoring and observability solution like CloudWatch, you’re going to want to get the most you can out of it. Fugo TV Dashboards can help you do this, by getting your CloudWatch dashboard and metrics in front of your team in stand-ups and meetings to provide you with relevant data to back up your talking points and empower your decision making.
However, Fugo TV Dashboards can also boost the monitoring aspect of CloudWatch, turning any TV screens mounted to your office walls into live dashboards, allowing your metrics to be constantly accessible to your team. If anything goes wrong, they’ll be able to see it unfolding and start analysing and maintaining before it becomes a critical issue.
But there’s no trade-off with security and privacy to worry about here, either; Fugo TV Dashboards has been built with your data security in mind. Unlike other dashboard solutions that might require you to store your access credentials on a third-party device that could be lost or stolen, or might create a publicly available URL to access your dashboard data that anybody on the internet could stumble upon, Fugo TV Dashboards works by recording your login and navigation steps, storing that recording securely on an encrypted Cloud server, and then repeating those steps every time your dashboard needs to be updated.
After walking through those steps, the Cloud server takes a screenshot, encrypts it and delivers it safely and quickly to your Fugo-connected screens and devices. Easy peasy — and, most importantly, secure!
So - let’s get into the guide:
Best Practices for using AWS CloudWatch with Fugo CMS
Getting your Amazon AWS CloudWatch dashboard displaying on your Fugo-connected screens is, thankfully, pretty straightforward. However, before we get into the guide, let’s go over a couple of best practices for this integration:
1. Create a service account:
We've worked hard to develop the TV dashboards feature so that your sensitive data is completely secure. But as an extra precaution we highly recommend using a 'least privileged' service account when setting up your dashboards - this is usually an account that has read-only permissions for the dashboards you want to display on your screen(s.) You can read more about how to set up a service account with Google here.
2. Start with your dashboard URL
It's often the case that you can navigate directly to your target dashboard's URL when creating a new dashboard in Fugo. This will require you to log in, and then you’ll be redirected back to your destination. This is the quickest and most reliable journey you can make in Fugo Dashboards as it cuts out unnecessary steps in your journey.
3. Search for your dashboard
Most dashboard services have search capabilities. Instead of clicking through multiple menus, you can get to your target content quicker and more reliably by searching for it. We recommend searching the full name of the content you want to display, as partial search terms may return more items you'll have to sift through.
Set up your AWS Service Account
1.0 Head over to the IAM page by searching for “iam” in the search bar. From here, we can create a service account with the fewest privileges possible to access your dashboard without risking giving access to anything else.
1.1 Head to the “Users” page by selecting Users from the left sidebar, and then click Add users in the top right.
1.2 Fill out the access information for your new service account, and then move on to the Permissions page. Make sure you uncheck “User must create a new password at next sign-in”!
1.3 Select Attach existing policies, and then click Create policy. Click Choose a service.
1.4 Search for, and select, CloudWatch. In the Actions box, make sure you select GetDashboard and GetMetricData. These are two permissions that are necessary for a service account to view your dashboards and graphs.
1.5 In the Resources box, click Add ARN. In the Dashboard name input, type in the name of the dashboard you’re planning to view with your Fugo-connected devices. Click Add, and then click Next: Tags. On the next screen, click Next: Review.
1.6 Name your policy and click Create policy.
1.7 Return to the “Add user” journey, and click Attach existing policies directly. Search for your newly created policy, tick it and click Next: Tags.
1.8 Skip the Tags page, and click Next: Review. Make sure all of the info on this page looks correct, and click Create user.
Connect your screens to a Fugo account
2.0 Log into your Fugo Account. If you don’t have an account yet, you can start your 14-day free trial here.
Note: TV Dashboards are a part of Fugo's Business Plan. During your free trial, you can create one dashboard. To create any more, you will need to upgrade your plan.
2.1 Make sure your screen(s) are connected to Fugo CMS. If you haven’t connected your screen(s) yet, you can find the instructions for that here.
Create a new dashboard
2.2 Click Dashboards in the top navigation bar to go to your Dashboard library. If you have not created any dashboards yet, this page will be empty.
2.3 Click Create Dashboard to get started. This will take you to the New Dashboard recorder page where you will follow the instructions to capture and preview your dashboard before publishing it to screen.
2.4 Next, enter the URL of your AWS Dashboard and click Go.
2.5 If this is your first time creating a TV dashboard, a popup guiding you on how to configure your Chrome browser to allow the Fugo recorder to run in incognito mode will appear. You can find our instructions for allowing incognito mode here. If this is not your first time, you can skip this step.
2.6 An incognito window will open up, showing the login screen for AWS CloudWatch. Sign in with the service account we created earlier.
2.7 Once you’re signed in, you’ll be brought to your AWS CloudWatch dashboard. If everything looks as expected, click Capture Dashboard. This will tell the Fugo recorder that you’re done with your journey, and that it can now walk through those steps to bring your dashboard back.
2.8 Once the incognito window closes, wait for your dashboard to appear in the preview window. Make sure everything looks as expected! You might find that none of your graphs have loaded in properly. This is because with CloudWatch being as complex as it is, it can take some additional time for those metrics to load in. Not to worry, though — we’ve thought of that!
2.9 Head over to the Advanced Settings tab, and increase the “Pause” field to something closer to 20 seconds. We’ve found that this value works best for AWS, but feel free to play around with the value later to find one that works better for you.
2.10 Head back over to the Home tab, and click Retry to get the Fugo recorder to walk through your steps again, but this time including that longer pause before it takes the screenshot of your dashboard, allowing your graphs to load in.
2.11 Once your preview reloads, check that the screenshot looks as expected. If it does, click Publish. This will open up the Publish window, which allows you to immediately show your AWS CloudWatch dashboard directly on any Fugo-connected screen or group, or put your dashboard into any existing playlist. You can also save this dashboard for later by clicking Save.
And you’re done!
Tips and Tricks for your AWS CloudWatch dashboards
CloudWatch is an invaluable and powerful tool for monitoring the performance of your apps. It offers great observability from a single place, and can provide you with incredibly granular insights. However, it can be really easy to get overwhelmed with all of the data available to you, and there are a few things you can do to make all of this data a little easier for you and your team to work with. Here are a couple of tips that we’ve found the most helpful:
Annotate your graphs. Make sure that you use clear annotations that give anybody viewing the graph a clear idea of the kind of scale and numbers that are being shown. Having a graph totally lacking in annotation is a little bit pointless, because it doesn’t convey anything helpful in terms of specific numbers or even a sense of scale. Equally though, it’s important not to over-annotate. Dashboards are visually very busy as it is, and adding a ton of annotations underneath your graphs will cause information overload — not to mention headaches!
Averages vs Peaks. If you’re looking at something like response times, make sure that you’re not just looking at average response times. While monitoring the average response time for your applications can be helpful in getting a general idea of how your app might be performing on the whole, they won’t alert your team to any sudden spikes in time. A low average response time could be hiding occasional peaks that could give you insight into problem areas or times.
Be sparing. The more graphs you choose to display, the less each one means. For each additional graph or metric on screen, your DevOps team will have to split their focus more and more. We’d recommend sitting down with your team and assessing which metrics are key to them, and which metrics don’t really mean all that much. Don’t be afraid to go back to your dashboard in a week and change up the graphs you’re showing either - CloudWatch makes it easy to switch metrics in and out, so definitely take your time to create the most effective dashboard that you can!
AWS CloudWatch has a huge amount of documentation to dig through (including a super handy User Guide), so if you’re having any trouble setting up your graphs you will definitely find your answers in there.
If you have any questions remaining after reading this guide, or if you have any feedback for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our support team by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org — they’re always happy to help out!