What features should you consider when choosing between AWS X-Ray and CloudWatch Container Insights?

Blog By Sep 09, 2023 No Comments

Differences Between AWS X-Ray and CloudWatch Container Insights

AWS X-Ray and CloudWatch Container Insights are two tools for monitoring containerized applications running on AWS. While they have some overlapping features, there are key differences in their functionality:

Tracing vs Metrics

AWS X-Ray is a distributed tracing tool that helps you trace requests as they move through a distributed application. It provides detailed information about the components involved in each request and how long each component took.

CloudWatch Container Insights collects metrics from your containers, such as CPU and memory usage, request counts, and error rates. It provides high-level metrics and dashboards to monitor the health and performance of your containerized applications.

Microservices vs Containers

AWS X-Ray is designed to trace requests across multiple microservices, whether or not those microservices are containerized.

CloudWatch Container Insights specifically targets containerized applications running on Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS. It collects container-level metrics in addition to host-level metrics.

Resource Utilization

AWS X-Ray provides detailed information about the resources used by each request, including CPU, memory, and network traffic.

CloudWatch Container Insights collects a wider range of metrics related to resource utilization for containers and hosts, including CPU utilization, memory usage, network I/O, and disk I/O.


AWS X-Ray allows you to customize traces using the AWS X-Ray SDK. You can add custom information to traces to help with debugging and performance analysis.

CloudWatch Container Insights provides less customization. The metrics and dashboards are predefined and cannot be customized.


AWS X-Ray integrates with other AWS services like Lambda, API Gateway, and DynamoDB to provide automatic instrumentation.

CloudWatch Container Insights integrates tightly with Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS to provide metrics for containers running on these services.

In summary, AWS X-Ray and CloudWatch Container Insights have different but complementary purposes:

  • AWS X-Ray helps you trace requests through a distributed application to identify performance bottlenecks.
  • CloudWatch Container Insights monitors the health and performance of containers running on ECS and EKS.

Using both tools together can provide a more comprehensive view of the performance of your containerized applications running on AWS.


  1. https://myrestraining.com/blog/aws/aws-x-ray-cloudwatch/
  2. https://osamaoracle.com/2021/11/06/cloudwatch-metrics-vs-aws-x-ray/
  3. https://itcertificate.org/blog/aws/aws-x-ray-vs-cloudwatch/

I'm Abhay Singh, an Architect with 9 Years of It experience. AWS Certified Solutions Architect.

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