AWS CloudWatch Metric Streams with Kinesis Data Firehose

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Using Amazon CloudWatch Metric Streams and Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, you can get CloudWatch metrics into Datadog faster with a 2-3 minute latency. This is significantly faster than Datadog’s default API polling approach, which provides updated metrics every 10 minutes. You can learn more about the API polling approach in the Cloud Metric Delay documentation.

Overview

Diagram of the metrics flow
  1. Create a CloudWatch Metric Stream in each AWS account and region for which you want to stream metrics.
    • Optionally specify a limited set of namespaces or metrics to stream.
  2. Once you create the Metric Stream, Datadog immediately starts receiving the streamed metrics and displays them on the Datadog site with no additional configuration needed.

Metric Streaming versus API polling

The following are key differences between using CloudWatch Metric Streams and API polling.

  • Namespace filtering on AWS: Per-namespace defaults and account-level settings in the AWS integration page only apply to the API polling approach. Manage all rules for including and excluding namespaces/metrics in the streams using the CloudWatch Metric Streams configuration in your AWS accounts.

  • Metrics that report with more than a two hour delay: API polling continues to collect metrics like aws.s3.bucket_size_bytes and aws.billing.estimated_charges after metric streaming is enabled, since these cannot be sent through CloudWatch Metric Stream.

Switching from API polling to metric streams

If you already receive metrics for a given CloudWatch namespace through the API polling method, Datadog automatically detects this and stops polling metrics for that namespace once you start streaming them. Leave your configuration settings in the AWS integration page unchanged; as Datadog continues to use API polling to collect custom tags and other metadata for your streamed metrics.

Switching back from metric streams to API polling

If you later decide you don’t want to stream metrics for a given AWS account and region, or even just for a specific namespace, Datadog automatically starts collecting those metrics using API polling again based on the configuration settings in the AWS integration page. If you want to stop streaming all metrics for an AWS account and region, follow the instructions in the Disable Metric Streaming section of this document.

Billing

There is no additional charge from Datadog to stream metrics.

AWS charges based on the number of metric updates on the CloudWatch Metric Stream and the data volume sent to the Kinesis Data Firehose. There is the potential to see an increased CloudWatch cost for the subset of metrics you are streaming, so Datadog recommends prioritizing using metric streams for the AWS metrics, services, regions, and accounts where you most need the lower latency and using polling for others. For more information, see Amazon CloudWatch pricing.

EC2 or Lambda metrics in the stream could increase the number of billable hosts and Lambda invocations (if those hosts and functions aren’t already monitored with the AWS integration or Datadog Agent in the case of EC2).

Setup

Before you begin

  1. Read the Metric Streaming versus API polling section carefully to understand the differences before enabling Metric Streaming.

  2. If you haven’t already, connect your AWS account to Datadog. For more information, see the CloudFormation setup instructions.

Installation

Datadog recommends using CloudFormation because it’s automatic and easier if you are using multiple AWS regions.

Note: Metric streaming to Datadog currently only supports OpenTelemetry v0.7 output format.

  1. On your Datadog site, go to the Configuration tab of the AWS integration page.
  2. Click on the AWS account to set up metric streaming.
  3. Under Metric Collection, click on Automatically Using CloudFormation under CloudWatch Metric Streams to launch a stack in the AWS console.
The CloudWatch Metric Streams section of the Metric Collection tab of the AWS integration page with the Automatically Using CloudFormation button highlighted
  1. Fill in the required parameters:
    • ApiKey: Add your Datadog API key.
    • DdSite: Select your Datadog site. Your site is:
    • Regions: A comma-separated list of the regions you wish to set up for metrics streaming. For a full list of supported regions, see the AWS documentation on Using metric streams.
  2. Fill in the optional parameters:
    • FilterMethod: Include or Exclude list of namespaces to include for metrics streaming.
    • First/Second/Third Namespace: Specify the namespaces you wish to include or exclude. Note: The namespace values have to precisely match the values in the namespace column in AWS’s documentation. For example, AWS/EC2.
  3. Check the acknowledgment box that states, “I acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources with custom names.”
  4. Click Create Stack.

Results

Once the stack is successfully created, wait five minutes for Datadog to recognize the change. To validate completion, go to the Metric Collection tab in Datadog’s AWS integration page and verify that the activated regions appear for the selected account.

The CloudWatch Metric Streams section of the Metric Collection tab of the AWS integration page with one activated region

To set up metric streams using the AWS Console, create a CloudWatch Metric Stream for each AWS region.

Note: Metric streaming to Datadog currently only supports OpenTelemetry v0.7 output format.

  1. Choose the Quick AWS Partner Setup and select Datadog as the AWS Partner destination from the dropdown menu.

    Cloudwatch metric stream quick partner setup
  2. Choose the Datadog site to which you want to stream metrics and enter your Datadog API key.

  3. Choose whether you want to stream all CloudWatch metrics, or only specific namespaces. You also have the option to exclude specific metrics. If you are in a Monitoring Account, you can also choose to enable Cross-account streaming.

    Cloudwatch metric stream
  4. Under Add additional statistics, include the AWS percentile metrics to send to Datadog. See the CloudFormation template for a list of the percentile metrics Datadog supports through polling.

    Percentiles
  5. Assign a name to your metric stream.

  6. Click Create metric stream.

Results

Once you see the Metric Stream resource has been successfully created, wait five minutes for Datadog to recognize the change. To validate completion, go to the Metric Collection tab in Datadog’s AWS integration page and verify that the activated regions are enabled under CloudWatch Metric Streams for the specified AWS account.

The CloudWatch Metric Streams section of the Metric Collection tab of the AWS integration page with one activated region

Note: If you’ve already enabled polling CloudWatch APIs, the transition to streaming could cause a brief (up to five minutes) period where the specific metrics you are streaming are double-counted in Datadog. This is because of the difference in timing between when Datadog’s crawlers are running and submitting your CloudWatch metrics, and when Datadog recognizes that you have started streaming those metrics and turn off the crawlers.

Cross-account metric streaming

Use cross-account metric streaming to include metrics in a single Metric Stream that spans across multiple AWS accounts within an AWS region. This helps to reduce the number of streams needed to collect metrics for a common destination. To do this, connect your source accounts with your monitoring account and enable Cross-account streaming to Datadog in your AWS monitoring account.

Your monitoring account needs to have the following permissions in order for this feature to work properly:

  • oam:ListSinks
  • oam:ListAttachedLinks

Note: To collect custom tags and other metadata for your streamed metrics, integrate your source accounts with Datadog.

Disable metric streaming

To disable metric streaming completely for a given AWS account and region, you must delete the AWS Metric Stream and its related resources. To prevent loss of metrics in Datadog, it’s important to follow these deletion steps carefully:

If you set streaming up with CloudFormation:

  1. Delete the stack that was created during the setup.

If you set streaming up through the AWS Console:

  1. Delete the CloudWatch Metric Stream linked to your delivery stream.
  2. Delete the S3 Bucket, Firehose, IAM roles associated with the stream and all other resources that were created while setting up the stream.

Once the resources are deleted, wait for five minutes for Datadog to recognize the change. To validate completion, go to the Metric Collection tab in Datadog’s AWS integration page and verify that the disabled regions are not displayed under CloudWatch Metric Streams for the specified AWS account.

Troubleshooting

To resolve any issues encountered while setting up Metric Streams or the associated resources, see AWS Troubleshooting.

Further Reading