Combine AWS CloudWatch with an EKS Cluster

In this lesson, we will combine AWS CloudWatch with an EKS cluster using Fluentd.

Using Fluentd for CloudWatch #

Unlike GKE that has a logging solution baked into a cluster, EKS requires us to set up a solution. It does provide CloudWatch service, but we need to ensure that the logs are shipped there from our cluster.

Just as before, we’ll use Fluentd to collect logs and ship them to CloudWatch. Or, to be more precise, we’ll use a Fluentd tag built specifically for CloudWatch. As you probably already know, we’ll also need an IAM policy that will allow Fluentd to communicate with CloudWatch.

All in all, the setup we are about to make will be very similar to the one we did with Papertrail, except that we’ll store the logs in CloudWatch, and that we’ll have to put some effort into creating AWS permissions.

Before we proceed, I’ll assume that you still have the environment variables AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID, AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY, and AWS_DEFAULT_REGION used in the Gist. If you don’t, please create them.

Create an IAM policy #

We need to create a new AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policy. For that, we need to find out the IAM role, and for that, we need the IAM profile. If you’re confused by that, it might help to know that you’re not the only one. AWS permissions are anything but straightforward. Nevertheless, that’s not the subject of this chapter, so I will assume at least a basic understanding of how IAM works.

If we reverse engineer the route to creating an IAM policy, the first thing we need is the profile.

PROFILE=$(aws iam \
  list-instance-profiles \
  | jq -r \
  .InstanceProfileName" \
  | grep eksctl-$NAME-nodegroup-0)


The output should be similar to the one that follows.


Now that we know the profile, we can use it to retrieve the role.

ROLE=$(aws iam get-instance-profile \
  --instance-profile-name $PROFILE \
  | jq -r ".InstanceProfile.Roles[] \
  | .RoleName")

echo $ROLE

With the role at hand, we can finally create the policy. I already created one we can use, so let’s take a quick look at it.

cat logging/eks-logs-policy.json

The output is as follows.

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Action": [
      "Resource": "*",
      "Effect": "Allow"

As you can see, there’s nothing special about that policy. It defines permissions required for interaction with logs (CloudWatch) from inside our cluster. So, let’s move on and create it.

aws iam put-role-policy \
  --role-name $ROLE \
  --policy-name eks-logs \
  --policy-document file://logging/eks-logs-policy.json

Finally, to be on the safe side, we’ll retrieve the eks-logs policy and confirm that it was indeed created correctly.

aws iam get-role-policy \
  --role-name $ROLE \
  --policy-name eks-logs

The PolicyDocument section of the output should be the same as the JSON file we used to create the policy.

Setting up Fluentd #

Now that we have the policy in place, we can turn our attention to Fluentd.

I already prepared a YAML for it, so let’s take a quick look at it.

cat logging/fluentd-eks.yml

I won’t go into the details of the YAML. You should be able to understand what it does by exploring it on your own. The key resources are the fluentd-cloudwatch ConfigMap that contains the configuration and the DaemonSet with the same name that will run Fluentd Pod in each node of your cluster. The only difficulty you might have with that YAML is to understand the Fluentd configuration, especially if that is the first time you’re working with it. Nevertheless, we won’t go into details, and I’ll let you explore Fluentd’s documentation on your own. Instead, we’ll apply that YAML hoping that everything works as expected.

kubectl apply \
  -f logging/fluentd-eks.yml

Before we move into Cloudwatch UI, we’ll retrieve Fluentd Pods and confirm that there is one in each node of the cluster.

kubectl -n logging get pods

In my case, the output shows three fluentd-cloudwatch Pods matching the number of nodes in my EKS cluster.

NAME                       READY   STATUS    RESTARTS   AGE
fluentd-cloudwatch-7dp5b   1/1     Running   0          19s
fluentd-cloudwatch-zq98z   1/1     Running   0          19s
fluentd-cloudwatch-zrrk7   1/1     Running   0          19s

Now that everything seems to be working inside our cluster, the time has come to move into CloudWatch UI.

CloudWatch UI #

open "https://$$NAME/containers"

Please type random-logger in the Log Stream Name Prefix field and press the enter key. As a result, only one stream should be available. Click it.

Once inside the random-logger screen, you should see all the logs generated by that Pod. I’ll leave it to you to explore the available options (there aren’t many).

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