REL11-BP06 Send notifications when events impact availability - Reliability Pillar

REL11-BP06 Send notifications when events impact availability

Notifications are sent upon the detection of thresholds breached, even if the event causing the issue was automatically resolved.

Automated healing allows your workload to be reliable. However, it can also obscure underlying problems that need to be addressed. Implement appropriate monitoring and events so that you can detect patterns of problems, including those addressed by auto healing, so that you can resolve root cause issues.

Resilient systems are designed so that degradation events are immediately communicated to the appropriate teams. These notifications should be sent through one or many communication channels.

Desired outcome: Alerts are immediately sent to operations teams when thresholds are breached, such as error rates, latency, or other critical key performance indicator (KPI) metrics, so that these issues are resolved as soon as possible and user impact is avoided or minimized.

Common anti-patterns:

  • Sending too many alarms.

  • Sending alarms that are not actionable.

  • Setting alarm thresholds too high (over sensitive) or too low (under sensitive).

  • Not sending alarms for external dependencies.

  • Not considering gray failures when designing monitoring and alarms.

  • Performing healing automation, but not notifying the appropriate team that healing was needed.

Benefits of establishing this best practice: Notifications of recovery make operational and business teams aware of service degradations so that they can react immediately to minimize both mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to repair (MTTR). Notifications of recovery events also assure that you don't ignore problems that occur infrequently.

Level of risk exposed if this best practice is not established: Medium. Failure to implement appropriate monitoring and events notification mechanisms can result in failure to detect patterns of problems, including those addressed by auto healing. A team will only be made aware of system degradation when users contact customer service or by chance.

Implementation guidance

When defining a monitoring strategy, a triggered alarm is a common event. This event would likely contain an identifier for the alarm, the alarm state (such as IN ALARM or OK), and details of what triggered it. In many cases, an alarm event should be detected and an email notification sent. This is an example of an action on an alarm. Alarm notification is critical in observability, as it informs the right people that there is an issue. However, when action on events mature in your observability solution, it can automatically remediate the issue without the need for human intervention.

Once KPI-monitoring alarms have been established, alerts should be sent to appropriate teams when thresholds are exceeded. Those alerts may also be used to trigger automated processes that will attempt to remediate the degradation.

For more complex threshold monitoring, composite alarms should be considered. Composite alarms use a number of KPI-monitoring alarms to create an alert based on operational business logic. CloudWatch Alarms can be configured to send emails, or to log incidents in third-party incident tracking systems using Amazon SNS integration or Amazon EventBridge.

Implementation steps

Create various types of alarms based on how the workloads are monitored, such as:

  • Application alarms are used to detect when any part of your workload is not working properly.

  • Infrastructure alarms indicate when to scale resources. Alarms can be visually displayed on dashboards, send alerts through Amazon SNS or email, and work with Auto Scaling to scale workload resources in or out.

  • Simple static alarms can be created to monitor when a metric breaches a static threshold for a specified number of evaluation periods.

  • Composite alarms can account for complex alarms from multiple sources.

  • Once the alarm has been created, create appropriate notification events. You can directly invoke an Amazon SNS API to send notifications and link any automation for remediation or communication.

  • Integrate Amazon Health Aware monitoring to allow for monitoring visibility to AWS resources that might have degradations. For business essential workloads, this solution provides access to proactive and real-time alerts for AWS services.


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