[Microsoft Ignite recap] Azure Monitor: To Azure and beyond!

Stylized image depicting Azure Monitor and monitoring. Stylized image depicting Azure Monitor and monitoring.

What if you could monitor everything cloud from one place (regardless of whether it’s even in Azure)? The latest for Azure Monitor goes far beyond simply Azure and allows you to monitor systems across the entire enterprise.

What if you had a way to monitor everything from one place? What would that be worth to your organization?

Having an eye on what’s happening across your environments is a critical part of good cloud administration. Without visibility, there is no governance, and in that situation, even with the best intentions, people find workarounds and things can end up in a pretty chaotic state.

In the Azure Monitoring and Analytics deep dive session at Microsoft Ignite 2020, Rahul Bagaria (@Rahul_Bagaria), Senior Product Manager at Microsoft and Evgeny Ternovsky, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, discussed how Azure Monitor will soon cover far more than just Azure.

In this session, we heard about the monitoring capabilities Azure can provide out-of-the-box. This includes monitoring for not only your Azure resources but also hybrid servers and with Azure Arc—your Kubernetes clusters.

From unified monitoring, to simplified alerts, to new device onboarding, Azure’s latest monitoring and analytics tools offer a powerful hub within Azure with capabilities that reach outside traditional monitoring and analytics tech stacks.

Want to learn how to govern your Azure environment from the experts? At Deploy, ShareGate's online event focused on Azure governance, 9 Azure experts shared their experiences and insights to help you identify best practices to increase efficiency and visibility in the cloud. Watch the sessions on demand now!

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Monitoring everything

How many pieces are there in your network surveillance stack? Like most of us, the answer is likely greater than one.

Microsoft made some exciting announcements that may not solve this equation and reduce us down to one, but definitely makes for a much more efficient workflow:

  • Network monitoring: Microsoft is adding some powerful new features to their monitoring stack that provide users a “fuller picture” of network status.

    One such enhancement is in the Network Insights section. In this section, there is a new view for traffic analytics in addition to a diagnostics toolkit. These can help you troubleshoot typical network issues using packet capture as well as connectivity monitoring.
  • Connectivity monitoring: For connectivity monitoring, Microsoft has added capabilities surrounding the new ExpressRoute system—private connections between Azure datacenters and on-prem equipment—as well as performance monitoring support.

    This allows for a unified monitoring experience that takes a much more hybrid approach, keeping your whole ecosystem in mind.
  • Container monitoring: Container monitoring now has recommended alerts that you should be using out of the box. For people who are running AKS clusters using Microsoft Windows servers, they're now able to collect container logs from Windows and stay within a single monitoring experience.

    Microsoft also announced Azure Monitoring for SAP as well as monitoring for virtual desktops.

Automated alerting

Microsoft is also adding alerting automation and workflows to Azure Monitor. By default, Azure Monitor provides a variety of connectors.

One of them is a log connector that can ingest log files. This can be done directly with Power Automate. It can also be integrated with Microsoft Teams so you can get your notifications through Teams.

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Azure Monitor allows you to create alert rules based on custom metrics before they happen. It will let you add multiple “AND” conditions when creating a single rule. You can also set it so all of the rules will have to be satisfied for it to trigger.

As well, Microsoft has updated the experience for log-based alerts. You can now use resource centric logs to create alerts.

Onboarding new devices

Azure Monitor allows you to view a wide variety of resources. However, these new devices have to be on-boarded before they can be monitored. Once resources have been added, you can use the built-in rules to quickly define alerts and start monitoring your new resources faster than ever before. Microsoft recently added a new agent to Azure Monitor that contains data collection rules that make the process of onboarding new devices easier, replacing the existing log analytics agent.

These new rules can also be applied to a wide variety of resources including virtual machines, servers, and even Linux servers:

Microsoft has created a new experience specifically for Linux servers allowing users to multi-home Linux servers to different workspaces.

For Windows Server users, Azure Monitor allows users to create XPath queries to filter events. For users of Azure Arc, they're able to get unified management for Kubernetes clusters on Azure servers. This can give you a unified Azure monitoring experience.

Microsoft also announced a new preview for the log analytics workspace for dedicated clusters. With dedicated clusters, you have the ability to reserve capacity across multiple workspaces. This can help you better manage your cost.

Log analytics allows you to work from a single workspace. This means you can pull logs from applications infrastructure logs, platform logs, and other locations, and then query them.

Making monitoring easier

On top of all of this, Azure monitoring also supports a variety of open source languages (i.e. Python, Java, etc.) and can provide Application Insights for applications written in a variety of languages. It can also connect with DevOps and IT tools as well as ingest third party logs.

Azure Monitor has become a virtual Swiss army knife of monitoring.

Truly, what we saw was that Microsoft has aimed for and delivered on a goal of making monitoring easier with Azure Monitor. With these new enhancements, you'll be able to monitor across your entire enterprise. This creates a whole new world of opportunity—and simplified workflows—that stretch beyond simply monitoring Azure.

As your cloud usage and data grows (potentially with the sensitive information of clients and partners being stored on your servers) good governance powered by great visibility will help everyone sleep well at night.

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