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Establish cloud visibility with Azure monitoring tools

Learn about the various monitoring services available on the Azure cloud platform. Use these tools for application performance metrics, data analytics and other insights.

IT teams need visibility into their cloud environments to ensure their workloads run properly. Public cloud providers, including Microsoft, offer management and monitoring tools to help users access insights on performance, availability, security and other important metrics.

Microsoft Azure users can choose from a number of native monitoring services. With these tools, IT teams can quickly identify and resolve issues, consistently track resources and evaluate service health. Use this rundown to help ensure the health of your workloads on Microsoft's cloud. Understand the various data types you can track and review the features and capabilities of the Azure monitoring tools.

Different data types

Different monitoring tools may be used to monitor separate components in Azure, which also means different data will be collected depending on what is being monitored. Data can be sorted by classification. For example, Microsoft specifies a difference between metrics and logs. Metrics are numerical values that describe an aspect of a system at a point in time, and logs contain different variations of data that are organized into records with different properties for each set. Collected data will typically be stored so users can analyze them at request. Some examples of the data sets Azure monitoring tools will analyze include:

  • Application monitoring data, which typically includes data around the performance and functionality of code.
  • Azure resource monitoring data, which will include data around the operation of an Azure resource.
  • Azure tenant monitoring data, which gathers data regarding the operation of tenant-level Azure services.
  • Azure subscription monitoring data, which collects data pertaining to the operation and management of Azure subscriptions.
  • Virtual machine and cloud services data, which captures system data and logging data on VMs.
  • Application insight data, which relates to application performance monitoring (APM).
  • Azure Active Directory reporting data, which collects information on user sign-in activities and system activity.
  • Activity logs, which collects information on operations performed on resources in a subscription.
  • Network security logs, which will collect data on traffic flowing through a network.

Other data that may be collected includes guest OS monitoring data, storage analytics, requests, response times and events, cost management, planned maintenance and health advisory data, diagnostic logs, failure diagnostics, container monitoring, VPN connection and resource configurations.

Azure monitoring services

Azure Advisor: Azure Advisor provides users with personalized recommendations to optimize their deployments. First, Advisor scans resource configurations in an enterprise's environments. After that's complete, Advisor provides step-by-step instructions and actions to improve resources for high availability, security, performance and cost. Azure Advisor also pulls recommendations from other Microsoft cloud services -- such as Azure Security Center and Azure Cost Management -- into a centralized dashboard where users can view all suggestions in one place.

Azure Automation: Admins and developers use this service to automate cloud management tasks with Azure runbooks. For monitoring purposes, Azure Automation gathers inventory and tracks changes of all resources in the operating system. With the help of the inventory, users can monitor for issues or unwanted changes in their applications or configurations. They can set up alerts in Azure Automation to flag unauthorized changes and run diagnostic tests when issues are detected. In addition, Azure Automation can monitor and ensure update compliance for Windows and Linux workloads on Azure, on premises and on other cloud platforms.

Azure Monitor: Enterprises can use Azure Monitor to collect and organize monitoring data from on-premises data centers, Azure resources and cloud management tools. The service then presents all that information in a single interface. It also provides analysis on live streams, metrics, requests, response times and events. Azure Monitor aggregates activity logs, performance logs and diagnostic logs. Admins can use the aggregated data to identify issues and track application performance, usage and availability. Azure Monitor uses machine learning insights to present and resolve issues. This service can also be used for networking diagnostics and to analyze infrastructure, including VMs and Azure Kubernetes Service.

Azure Resource Manager: Admins use this tool to deploy, manage and monitor Azure resources in groups, rather than individually. Groups are made up of resources that share the same lifecycle and can be deployed, updated and deleted together. Azure Resource Manager is built with role-base access control, which enables admins to apply access control to all services in a resource group.

Azure Cost Management plus Billing: Organizations use this service to monitor their cloud spending. This tool breaks down the costs of specific Azure services and resources, which makes it easier to track spending. It also presents cost information in organized dashboards. With Cost Management, users can set up alerts that warn them when cloud spending surpasses a chosen budget. Cost Management also uses historical data to predict future spending. This cost management and monitoring tool is also compatible with AWS and Google Cloud Platform.

Azure Site Recovery: Azure's native disaster recovery service enables users to keep applications and workloads running in the event of cloud failure. Site Recovery replicates workloads on VMs and physical servers so applications are accessible if an outage occurs. Resources and workloads that are replicated are tracked by Site Recovery inbuilt monitoring to assess the status of machines post-failover, including checks on configurations and replication errors.

Azure Service Health: Azure Service Health provides a dashboard that tracks active service issues, planned maintenance and health advisories. The service saves event health history for 90 days. Admins can use Azure Service Health to monitor the status of events in their cloud environments and plan ahead for maintenance, which helps reduce downtime.

Azure Network Watcher: This service enables users to monitor network performance. Network Watcher provides insights and metrics on Azure Virtual Networks (VNet), VMs and application gateways. This Azure monitoring tool can be used to identify network issues, such as VPN connection problems, and to enable or disable resource logs in an Azure VNet as well as view network metrics.

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