AWS – Monitoring and optimizing your AWS account with nOps

In this book, you have learned about native AWS monitoring tools such as Trusted Advisor and CloudWatch, which are very important for an administrator to master. A partner product called nOps augments and extends this native functionality to provide user-friendly dashboards and reports to help you quickly get an overview of your account. nOps does some impressive deep analysis of the resources in your account to make recommendations around cost-saving and security improvements. If you are conducting a Well-Architected review of a workload, nOps can be a huge time-saver since it automatically gathers data from your account and answers many questions in a deterministic fashion, rather than relying on memory or documentation that might be out of date.

In this recipe, you will learn how to create a nOps trial account, connect it to your AWS account, and run reports to give you insights into everything that is happening within your infrastructure.

Getting ready

To complete this recipe, you will need to create an S3 bucket in your account that nOps will use for storing log files:

  1. Log in to your AWS account and go to the S3 dashboard.
  2. Create a new bucket for use by nOps and note down the name of the new bucket. Use the default settings for the bucket, taking care to make sure it is not public.

How to do it…

To complete this recipe, you will need to create a nOps trial account:

  1. Go to the nOps site at https://www.nops.io/ and click START FREE NOPS TRIAL.
  2. Enter your email address and click Get Started.
  3. Click Add AWS Account to associate your AWS account with your nOps account.
  4. Use the nOps setup wizard to automate the install process.
Go to the nOps help site if you get stuck during the install process: https://help.nops.io/.
  1. You will be redirected to the AWS console. Review the CloudFormation summary, check the box to acknowledge that AWS CloudFormation might create IAM resources, and click Create stack.
  2. Monitor the stack’s creation until it is complete:

nOps CloudFormation stack
  1. Log in to your nOps account. At first, much of the reporting will be blank. Wait a few hours for nOps to run its checks and populate reporting. Then, you will see a screen similar to the following:

The nOps dashboard
  1. Take some time to explore the dashboard. It features the following widgets:
    • A summary of your account activity
    • Yesterday’s spend by the top five services
    • Month to date spend by the top five services
    • Unused resources
    • Underutilized resources
    • Month-to-date top five most expensive resources
    • Cost by user
    • Cost trend
  1. Go to Reports from the main menu and select WAR Report. This report will grade your compliance with the Well-Architected Framework across a diverse set of categories:

The nOps WAR report
  1. Go to the Cost Control menu and select AWS Resources Cost. Select Spend by AWS Products to see how your costs are divided by product:

nOps spend by AWS products

Continue to explore nOps to learn about the wide variety of reports it offers.

How it works…

When you set up nOps in your AWS account, the following CloudFormation stack is created: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/nops-users/nOpsRole.yaml.

This stack creates a cross-account role that allows the nOps service to get access to your resources. The S3 bucket you created for nOps is used for log data that populates the nOps reports when you log in to your account at https://www.nops.io.

nOps queries your resources to produce reports that are similar to the functionality of AWS Trusted Advisor, and also automates answers to many of the questions that come up during a Well-Architected review. It is common for nOps users to quickly find significant cost-saving opportunities within their accounts, and also find places in their architecture where they are not following best practices.

There’s more…

We only touched on the basics of nOps in this recipe. Here are some of the additional features that it offers:

  • A security compliance dashboard to point out areas where you could improve your security posture
  • Reserved instance planning to help you make decisions about purchasing reserved EC2 instances
  • A spot advisor that shows how much you could save by switching on-demand EC2 instances to Spot instances
  • An infrastructure changes report that shows you all of the changes that have been made to your account, who made them, and the costs associated with the changes
  • An inventory report that gives you a quick high-level view of common resources that have been provisioned in your account
  • A rules engine that allows you to configure custom compliance rules for your account
  • Readiness reports for compliance accreditation, such as SOC 2 and HIPAA

While it’s possible to glean much of this information yourself by cobbling together data from AWS Trusted Advisor, AWS CloudTrail, and AWS CloudWatch, nOps is a huge time-saver that can quickly bring issues to the forefront so they can be addressed in a timely fashion.

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