Monitor Your Amazon Web Services Simple Queue Service (SQS) Queue Length in Amazon CloudWatch

UPDATE (2011-07-16): I just got a newsletter Email from Amazon stating that they have added SQS and SNS to CloudWatch which allows monitor SQS queues not just for the length of the queue, but for others metrics as well, so there is no real need in my script. Unless you really really want to use it 🙂

All you have to do is select SQS in the metrics type drop down and you will see a set of metrics to select from for all of your existing queues.



Amazon’s CloudWatch is a great tool for monitor various aspects of your service. Last May Amazon introduced custom metrics to CloudWatch which allows sending any metrics data you wish to CloudWatch. You can then store it, plot it and also create CloudWatch Alerts based on it.

One of the things missing from CloudWatch is Simple Queue Service (SQS) monitoring, so I’ve written a small script to update a queue’s count in a CloudWatch custom metric.
Having the queue’s count in CloudWatch allows adding alerts and actions based on the queue’s length.

For example, if the queue’s length is above a certain amount of a certain period of time, one of 2 things happened:

  1. There is a bug in the code causing the worker processes that process the queue’s message to fail
  2. There is a higher than usual load on the system causing the queue fill up and get more and more messages while there aren’t enough worker processes to process these messages in reasonable time

If the load is higher than usual you can easily tell via a CloudWatch alert to add an additional machine instance running more worker processes or simply send an Email alert saying there is something wrong.

The script is very easy to use and can be run from a cron job. I’m running it as a cron job in 1 minute intervals and have set up various CloudWatch alerts to better monitor my queue.

Grab the script on Github at:   SQS Cloud Watch Queue Count.

And the forecast for today: cloudy

Hi There,

My name is Eran Sandler and I love to write software. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on both small and big web sites serving hundreds of unique users per month to millions of unique users per day.

In the last couple of years I’ve found myself, like others, drifting towards this hurricane called “Cloud Computing”.

I wasn’t too intrigued about the virtualization side of things. After all, I’ve been using virtualization on both clients and servers for years now. What I did find very compelling is the fact that cloud services providers have given us, the developers, full access to build, start, stop and configure hardware.

On top of these APIs they have also built architectural building blocks which provide black box functionality for anything from storing and serving files, reliable message delivery via queues, pub/sub mechanism to sending Emails, handling file conversions and even configure and update DNS entries.

As someone who helped build a startup in the days “before” the cloud having this power at your disposal changes everything!
It changes the way we deploy software, the way we architect systems and the way we operate sites.

This blog is my way of sharing the knowledge I have accumulated in the last couple of years (and continue to accumulate every day as I work on new projects) in regards to architecting, developing, deploying and operating web sites and services on cloud infrastructures.

I will try to share stories, tips & tricks and code I’ve managed to stumble upon, handle or write and hope you will all enjoy it as much as I am.

Stay tuned for more posts. It’s about to get cloudier 🙂