Applications and services are bound to encounter issues. Not having the resources to properly identify them and provide solutions can be disastrous. Azure Monitor is such a resource which can help in monitoring your apps and services.
This article will dwell into more details of Azure Monitor in the following way:
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What is Azure Monitor?
Microsoft Azure Monitor is a tool that collects and analyzes data about the various Azure resources and the infrastructure on which these resources are run. Azure Monitor offers a one stop solution to store and analyze data about the working of various resources.
Azure Monitor was formed in 2018 by combining Application Insights and Log Analytics workspace. It can collect, analyze and act on data to provide solutions for maximizing the performance of various applications. The insights provided by the service can be used by the users to act upon issues that persist in their system.
It has a very interactive query language, machine learning capabilities, and can be incorporated with tools used in DevOps, security information, etc.
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How does Azure Monitor work?
The sources from where Azure Monitoring collects data are Azure resources, applications, and operating systems. The data that is collected depends on the type of the resource and can be a metric, log, or both which is then used for analysis, visualization, alerts, automation, etc.
The data collected by Azure Monitor are either metrics or logs. The metric data type represents numerical values that signify time-dependent aspects of the source. The log data types are structured log files relevant to the source. Let’s discuss more about them in the following section.
Azure monitor metrics measure a resource’s characteristics over a certain period of time. Metrics are numerical data that define properties like CPU usage, memory usage, network usage, etc. These are real-time measurements stored in intervals and can be analysed using the metrics explorer. They are ideally suitable to be visualised as graphs as they are stored in a time-series database.
Events, performance data, traces, etc. related to specific applications are stored in Azure Monitor logs. They are either structured or free from text and can be accessed from the Log Analytics workspace which supports a rich query language for analysis.
What data does it collect?
Azure Monitor can collect data from different sources like applications, services it relies on, operating systems, and down to its own resource offerings. The data includes:
- Application monitoring data: This includes information about the performance of various applications on different platforms. Application Insights can be used for collecting and analyzing these.
- Guest OS monitoring data: This contains information about the operating system on which the application is running. This can be imported to Azure Monitor from Windows Event logs, Syslogs, IIS logs, etc.
- Azure monitoring resource data: These signify information about the working of various Azure resources. Resource logs and metrics are used for monitoring the telemetry data.
- Azure subscription monitoring data: This contains information about the management and operation of the subscriptions in Azure. Service health and Activity Logs are used for obtaining these data.
- Azure tenant monitoring data: This contains information about services like Azure Active Directory. They also store all the sign-in activities and the history of changes made.
- Custom sources: Azure Monitor can also collect data from custom sources like any REST client using the Data Collector API. This can be helpful when users have to monitor resources outside the Azure ecosystem.
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Insights in Azure Monitor
Visualizing the data monitored is the most useful way to analyze them. Insights provide tools to customize the Azure monitoring and analyze the data efficiently.
The performance, availability, and usage of various web applications hosted in the cloud or on-premises can be monitored with Application Insights. The powerful data analysis capabilities of Azure monitor can provide deep insights into the application’s operations and can help in diagnosing errors even before the users report them. Applications Insights can be integrated easily into Visual Studio or can be used to support DevOps processes.
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Container insights can monitor the performance of workloads that are deployed in Kubernetes clusters. Container insights can visualize performance by collecting data from containers in Azure Kubernetes using the Metrics API. Container logs are also collected.
VM insights can monitor the Azure virtual machines (VM). The health and performance of Windows and Linux VMs are analysed and the interdependence between various processes is identified. VM insights can be used for performance monitoring and application independencies for VMs hosted on other clouds or on-premises.
Visualization of Monitored Data
Data when visualized in charts and tables can be effective for summarising the monitored data and presenting it to the users.
Different types of data can be combined together using the Azure Dashboards. Outputs of log queries and metric charts can be added to the dashboards and these can be shared with other Azure users.
Reports that are visually rich and are powerful in data analysis can be prepared using Workbooks. Data from multiple sources can be combined into a unified interactive experience using workbooks.
Power BI, being a business analytics service can create visualizations across a variety of data sources. It can be an effective tool in making the data available to more people involved in the process.
Response and Integration
A good monitoring service should also be able to respond to critical situations. Azure Monitor can send alerts and can be used to automate tasks based on the data it collects.
Alerts in Azure Monitor Alerts can notify about critical conditions and can start actions to solve the issue. Alerts based on metrics give real-time notifications and based on logs can alert for complex logic between multiple sources.
Action groups, which contain distinct sets of recipients and actions that can be shared across several rules, are used in Azure Monitor alerts rules. Action groups can do things like use webhooks to have alerts start external actions or interface with your ITSM tools, depending on your needs.
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Autoscale enables you to run the required number of resources to handle the load on your application. It can create rules that makes use of Azure Monitor measurements to determine when to add resources as the load increases and remove them that aren’t in use to save money.
You can define the minimum and the maximum number of instances, as well as the rules for increasing and decreasing resources.
Integration and Export
You’ll frequently need to connect Azure Monitor to other systems and create solutions that use your Azure monitoring data. Azure Monitor can collaborate with other Azure services to enable this integration. Now let’s briefly discuss those below.
Azure Event Hubs is event ingestion and streaming platform. Any real-time analytics provider or batching/storage adapters can be used to transform and store data. Users can also stream Azure Monitor data to partner SIEM and Azure monitoring products via Event Hub.
Logic Apps is a tool that lets you use workflows to automate operations and business processes across multiple platforms and services. In Azure Monitor, there are activities that read and write metrics and Azure monitor logs. This enables you to create workflows that connect to a range of other systems.
APIs are available to read and write metrics and logs to and from Azure Monitor. This effectively gives you an infinite number of options for creating different Azure Monitor integrations.
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Overall, Microsoft Azure Monitor gives you a unified platform for tracking and monitoring the performance of your apps and systems, as well as the resources they rely on. You may also benefit from custom performance tracking by integrating Azure Monitor with many other systems and using custom log queries.
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