Azure Portal Dashboard and Monitoring improvements

Azure Portal Logo

It has been almost a year since I wrote the Azure Portal monitoring basics guide. Given that this article is attracting quite a bit of traffic, I guess that many of blog visitors are interested to read more on this. Therefore, I’ve decided to write a little update covering important recent Portal changes.

Azure Portal – Monitoring services

Before we dive in it’s important to know what’s available when it comes to monitoring and diagnostics within Azure. Currently there are three monitoring services available on Azure; Azure insights, Application insights and Log Analytics.

Note: lots of thing have changed in the portal, apart from simply migrating existing offerings from the classic portal or interface tweaks/improvements. However, that will be quite a large list to cover. I’m planning to focus on commonly used Monitoring and Diagnostic related changes only, unless something very important pops up.

Azure Insights

Many of you might be familiar with Azure Application Insights, but never heard of Azure Insights. Azure insights is the core monitoring and alerting service which includes standard Metrics, Alerts, Autoscale, Email Notifications and Audit Logs.

The name Azure Insights is often referred to within the docs, and therefore helpful to remember this name.

Application insights

A powerful monitoring and logging framework for custom applications allowing you to detect, triage, and diagnose issues. I can really recommend using Application Insights, even for existing applications not build to leverage all available features. But really shows it strength when incorporating the Application Insights API, creating custom metrics, events, reports and notifications.

Log Analytics

Log Analytics is part of the Operations Management Suite and ingests data from your Azure servers to provide rich reporting capabilities and advanced log search based alerting algorithms. This offering is more or less focusing on monitoring logs (system logs, webserver logs etc.)

At this point I’ve briefly covered what’s available. For the remaining part of this post I will focus on what’s available in Azure Insights only.

More on the Portal

Within the current Portal version, the following resources support Monitoring and Diagnostics (metrics, logs and alerts);

App Services (Web, Mobile, And API Apps), Cloud services, Data Factories, Load Balancers, Logic Apps, Network Security Groups, Redis Cache, Search service, SQL Databases, Storage Accounts, Stream Analytics Jobs and Virtual Machines

There are other offerings that do support monitoring, however not having all the rich features available.

Webhook and Alerts

Not long ago, the only way of notifying people regarding alerts was by sending an e-mail notification. E-mail makes it unnecessary difficult when you would like to process the data within a different system. Webhooks (http request) will allow you to route the Azure Alert notifications to other systems for post-processing or custom notifications.

Webhooks are very simple to configure; just configure your alerts as before but in addition provide the URL pointing to your webhook endpoint (the system responsible for processing the data).

Webhook and Alerts

A detailed guide including advanced options can be found here: Azure insights webhook alerts: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/insights-webhooks-alerts/

Trigger automation runbooks for VMs

For V2 Virtual machines it’s even possible to configure running a Automation runbook in case an event has been met. For now, this only contains a list with predefined Runbook but this might change in the future. After selecting a predefined runbook, the interface will guide you through the Azure Automation setup and deployment steps in case you never used this offering before.

Trigger automation runbooks for VMs

Note: You aren’t limited to use predefined Automation workbooks only. You can simply trigger your custom runbooks using Webhooks. Just enable a webhook for your runbook via the Portal and paste your endpoint within the webhook notification section.

More about workbooks for runbooks can be found here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/automation-webhooks/

Auto Scale Notifications

This feature will allow you to configure Scale Action notifications via Email and Webhooks and supports Cloud Services, Web Sites and VM Scale Sets.

Like many others. You probably like to know when the Auto scale changes the amount of active instances (up and down). Luckily this is very simple to setup. Just open the Scale out option of your service and you will find the new notification section within the bottom of the configuration blade.

Auto Scale Notifications

App Service Advisor

App Service Advisor basically guides you though the process of keeping your services running optimally. This is done by providing live recommendations based on CPU, Memory, and Connections statistics.

App Service Advisor

New Dashboard features

Last but not least, some dashboard updates. I’m pretty excited about the new Dashboard capabilities, which I have requested about almost a year ago. It’s now possible to create multiple Dashboards, Share (including delegating access), clone and open a dashboard in full screen like in many other systems containing a dashboard.

Instead of me going over this myself, I would recommend watching this video created by Trevor Sullivan.
https://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/trevor-cloud/azure-portal-dashboards

Azure portal dashboards

Conclusion

Azure Insights is getting more and more powerful. Extending the notification system with webbooks enables some very interesting possibilities (notifying Logic Apps, Runbooks or custom apps). The new dashboard features make proactive monitoring a lot simpler. Other topics worth looking into are: Boot diagnostics, Changes in the Log backup and retention possibilities and Audit events.

Special thanks to Ashwin Kamath for sharing Azure Insights related information!

  • kasturi satish

    I am in Azure resource manager and didnt see this feature, can you help me

    • Which feature or interface blade is not showing up / working for you?

  • kasturi satish

    Regarding VM scale set, vm managment logs and etc

    • Azure VM Scale Sets has been introduced roughly 3 months ago therefore, the portal interface is not yet available. Howerver, you can configure autoscale actions using REST API, PowerShell, and CLI.

      • kasturi satish

        Hey Kevin, thank you. Could you let us know when would be the complete GUI faced features available for scale set?

        • I wish I could, however, I’m not working directly for Microsoft nor do I have any insights on this matter.

          Kind regards,
          Kevin

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