AWS Trusted Advisor: The User’s Soothsayer

AWS Trusted Advisor: What Is It?

AWS is certainly known for its creative (and at times obfuscated) service titles. AWS Trusted Advisor however is not one of these. For insight into why this name for this service, Susannah Roth from O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers pens these words:

 “A trusted advisor plays a key role in achieving client goals in their best interests and is worth their weight in gold. To do so, a trusted advisor needs to be able to provide clients with sound advice based on experience but also on the ethical dimensions of their decisions.
Providing good advice involves far more than simply carrying out client instructions. Lawyers should not be mere scribes or mouthpieces and tax advisors and accountants should not be mere number crunchers. A trusted advisor will advise their clients not only on the best way to implement their instructions, but also on the potential pitfalls and the ethical issues which could arise based on their practical experience and professional judgment, as well as encouraging and supporting their clients in making difficult decisions.
Unintended consequences can often result from a chosen course of action of which clients may not be aware, sometimes because they have no relevant first-hand experience to guide them.

With the above context  in mind, AWS Trusted Advisor is a nifty AWS tool to help to make the best of the AWS experience. Trusted Advisor (TA), like your high school driver’s license test administrator, performs a series of regular checks. These tests check a little more than if you've kept both hands at the 10/2 position. TA can keep you on the road to create a secure infrastructure, and save a few bucks along the way. TA inspects your cloud stack and provides best practice recommendations.

AWS Trusted Advisor Dashboard

The TA Summary page organizes data into five categories.

These five categories, known as pillars, are: 

  1. Cost Optimization
  2. Performance
  3. Security
  4. Fault Tolerance
  5. Service Limits

At present (AWS console undergoes periodic make-overs), the TA Dashboard check summary page arranges Pillar checks by severity: Actions Recommended, Investigation Recommended, and Excluded Items. Enumerated beneath each, is a check count. This can be exported into a portable format for presentation and review by clicking the "Download All Checks" button. You can breathe a big sigh of relief, TA surveys of all resources of your account; no need to switch regions in the console as with some other AWS services.

The checks summary page also includes a large green set of numbers you can’t ignore; Potential monthly savings. This is the total you stand to save if all Cost optimization checks are fixed. We’ll look at checks a little bit later.

5 Pillar Subcategories of AWS Trusted Advisor

You'll note, of course, that each pillar has its own section you can choose in the left column of the AWS console.

This will feature a mini dashboard about that particular pillar.

A check is a best practice standard which has been submitted by AWS experts. These checks are reviewed regularly by AWS and you may find new ones from time to time. Listed here in the check summary is a brief description of the check, a summary of what you can do to remedy the malady (great band name, don't steal it), and a breakdown by resource. Checks that you pass with flying colours can be hidden altogether.

The results are searchable by tag, which is useful, especially if you have dev & prod environment tagging, sub-clients, etc. For example, you may not be concerned about the Performance or Cost Savings checks for an EC2 instance that is used for periodic stress testing. These checks can be searched by keyword as well.

Of course, next to security, the most important item you'll find on the TA dashboard is the Cost Optimization pillar summary. This page will distill the Potential cost savings we saw on the main page into an itemized list. Definitely don't be shy to hit the Download all checks button here.

Amazon Prime Membership

Amazon likes to encourage and reward its premium customers, with TA this is no exception. By having a Business or Enterprise support plan, you have a couple bonuses. This includes:

  • Access to all AWS TA best practice checks
  • Best practice checks are automatically refreshed weekly
  • Access to best practice checks via Support API
  • Can create CloudWatch events to ingest best practice check results.

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Need to share what you’ve found, but hate having to manually download a csv then send it out via email? Tucked away in TA, under Preferences, is a weekly email feature. Emails it provides as recipients are those found in your Account Settings.

Like all AWS services, Trusted Advisor can be like drinking from the fire hose. There’s so much data, that it’s challenging to turn what you see into actionable information. That’s where an AWS Partner like Bloomip can help to assess which metrics further your business goals and become easy to focus on.

Get confident in your cloud infrastructure. Start a conversation with our AWS cloud experts and contact us.


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