AWS CloudWatch is the primary monitoring system used by our Fanatical Support for AWS support teams. CloudWatch provides a wide variety of metrics that cover the entire suite of AWS services,from CPU utilization and disk I/O on EC2 instances to network throughput of your ELB load balancers.

While AWS CloudWatch is available to Fanatical Support for AWS accounts at all service levels, you can opt to have a Racker respond to unexpected deviations in metrics. Watchman is the system responsible for receiving CloudWatch alarms and creating tickets on your Rackspace account.

CloudWatch alarms

We can configure CloudWatch Alarms to fire when the value of a CloudWatch metric deviates from its expected value. For example, suppose CPU utilization on an EC2 instance exceeds 80% for a period of five minutes or greater. In that case, we can set the CloudWatch alarm to send an alert to a Rackspace-managed Simple Notification Service (SNS) topic, rackspace-support, which generates a ticket for further investigation by a Racker.

We configure the rackspace-support SNS topic in each region when we first set up your AWS account for Fanatical Support for AWS. We create a subscription to the SNS topic for a centralized, region-specific Simple Queue Service (SQS) queue that resides in our shared management services account. Our shared management services system continually monitors these queues and generates a ticket when it receives a valid CloudWatch alarm.

Custom CloudWatch configuration

CloudWatch enables you to create custom metrics to monitor the most critical things to the uptime of your applications. You can create custom CloudWatch metrics and alarms, as well as send notifications to the rackspace-support SNS topic if you want a Racker response to triggered alarms. We recommend that you work with a Racker when first creating custom CloudWatch metrics and alarms so that we can ensure that you configure everything properly and that you document the desired Racker response clearly.


SmartTickets, an automation system connected to Watchman, helps provide Rackers additional contextual information in response to CloudWatch alarms. SmartTickets leverages AWS Systems Manager and AWS APIs to run diagnostic commands against your AWS infrastructure and displays this information to the Rackers responding to alarms.

AWS CloudTrail and Rackspace Logbook record SmartTickets activities, and you can identify them by examining the API history for the racker-faws-a63460cb user.