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Posted by Mike Racine

Azure Monitor: The essentials every admin should know

 

Did you know that Azure has a very powerful framework for monitoring, auditing and diagnostics built right into the platform? Everything you need is right there to get started. In this episode of KnowOps, Dana shares a little bit about just how powerful Azure Monitoring is in the hopes you might take advantage of it!

Show Transcript

Built at the heart of Azure is a powerful monitoring platform that many administrators don't really understand well. In fact, over 70% of Azure tenants created don't even have it set up correctly to take advantage of it. I think it's time we talk about that.

Dana Epp here, welcome to the channel that helps aspiring Azure administrators like you and me to know ops and well, master the Microsoft cloud. I'm glad to have you here. If you haven't yet, please smash the subscribe button so you can be notified when I release new videos each week.

Okay, so let's level set everybody. In case you're new to Azure Monitor, let me give you a quick overview of what it is and how it works. Azure Monitor helps you keep your services up and running by collecting and analyzing and acting on the telemetry from your cloud and on-premises environments. It helps you understand how your applications are performing and proactively identifies issues affecting them and the resources that depend on them. I think the best way to showcase this is from a chart that I snagged in Microsoft's documentation for you.

Check this out. It all starts with sources of monitoring data. You can send in application and operating system events directly from your servers, regardless if their on premises or hosted in the cloud. Of course, being a cloud-native solution, it easily integrate with your Azure resources, subscriptions, and your tenant. It could pretty much ingest anything, even custom events that you wanna build into your own applications. From there, it populates two types of data stores. The first is the metrics database, which holds numerical values that describe some aspect of a system at a particular point in time. They're lightweight and capable of supporting near real-time scenarios. The second is a logs data store, which is organized into records with different sets of properties for each type. Telemetry, such as events and traces, are stored as logs in addition to performance data so that it can be combined for analysis.

Once the data is in Azure Monitor, the magic starts to happen. You can gain clear insights into your applications, containers, and virtual machines. You can even shunt this consolidated data to your favorite external legacy monitoring solution if you need to. This lets you embrace the cloud and yet keep monitoring where your team knows it. Of course, you visualize your monitoring data in new, more modern ways. You can create Azure dashboards which you can share with you team that consumes this information right in the Azure portal. You can even build custom power BI dashboards that will allow you to slice and dice the monitoring data in meaningful ways to give your team the operational insights it needs to run the business. What you do from here is only limited by your imagination and some ingenuity.

Visualization of what's going on in your infrastructure is nice, but an even more powerful way to use Azure Monitor is to analyze and pinpoint issues. You can do this through metrics explorer and through log analytics. Microsoft publishes tons of prebuilt metrics and performance counters that you can use to build filtered charts however you like. This can definitely help you with your visualization, but you can go much farther. Through log analytics you can use the powerful Kusto Query Language or KQL, to quickly retrieve, consolidate, and analyze all your collected data. This is the same language that's used in Azure Data Explorer that's including advanced functionality such as aggregations, and joins, and smart analytics. I think maybe next week, I'll show you guys how to use KQL more. Until then though, know it's an awesome way to quickly get at data you need and it works across many different areas of Azure. You really should look into it.

One of the other powerful things Azure Monitor gives you is the ability to respond to critical events based on your business needs. This could be sending a text or an email to an administrator responsible for investigating an issue. Or you could launch an automated process that attempts to correct an error condition. You could even use it to auto-scale your cloud resources based on the load of the system, giving you the flexible just-in-time compute when you need it. And you can keep your costs down by removing resources that are sitting idle.

Azure Monitor takes advantage of action groups for alerting. Based on your requirements, action groups can perform such tasks as using web hooks to have alert start external actions or to even integrate with your ITSM tools. You can hook into logic apps or Microsoft flow to pretty much automate anything.

As an example, I use it as an early warning system that notifies cloud ops staff with automated messages posted right into Microsoft teams. I've even experimented with sending web hooks to Zapier. to changed the color of a Phillips Hue light bulb on my desk. It creeped me right out one time when we had an outage and my whole room went a deep crimson red before I even knew what was going on.

Again, you're only limited by your imagination.

There is so much you can do with Azure Monitor. Once you let Azure ingest all your logs and metrics, you can drill deep into your data and gain critical operational insights to your environment. You can quickly be alerted to problems and can even respond to issues using automation. And the thing is though, most people don't turn this on or even set it up and that's a real shame.

I really hope this opens your eyes to the possibilities. Let me know by leaving me a comment down below and hitting the like button. And if you haven't yet, smash the subscribe button so you can be notified as I publish more videos. Until then, thanks for watching. We'll see you in the next episode.


 
Built at the heart of Azure is a powerful monitoring platform that many administrators don't really understand. #knowops @auditwolf
 

 

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Topics: Cloud Operations (CloudOps), KnowOps

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