Azure

Overview of Monitoring in Azure

Monitoring, monitoring, monitoring! In my opinion as a Systems Architect and Developer for the last 20 years I’ve found that we don’t do enough application and resource logging. It’s only when you start working with DevOps and see how the operations team works with and troubleshoots your applications do you as a developer realize that maybe we should have added more logging to help diagnose and provide valuable insights to the state of your application.

Luckily for us when you deploy your application to Azure there is a breadth of monitoring solutions for collecting, analyzing and acting on telemetry from your application and the Azure resources that support them. These services are categorized into the following four sections:

  • Deep Application Monitoring
  • Deep Infrastructure Monitoring    
  • Core Monitoring    
  • Shared Capabilities

Monitoring overview

Deep Application Monitoring

Application Insights provides deep insights into your application performance, availability and usage, whether you have it hosted in the cloud or on-premises. Application Insights provides the capability to instrument your own applications, adding events to suit your own needs. Application Insights can be configured for new applications or you can start monitoring an existing application in production without any changes by using an agent.

Application Insights provides you with the ability to quickly identify and diagnose issues in production and can also be used for local and/or QA testing.

When leveraging Application Insights you can take advantage of Application Insights Analytics to detect trends, identify usage behaviors, and perform complex queries, and Application Insights is built upon core monitoring services found in Azure.

Deep Infrastructure Monitoring

On the infrastructure side we have Deep Infrastructure Monitoring is made up Log Analytics, Management Solutions, Service Map, and Network Monitoring which is made up by several tools that work together. These services also build upon core monitoring services in Azure that provide powerful analytics.

Core Monitoring

Core monitoring is standard across Azure resources and require only minimal configuration. Core monitoring provides the necessary telemetry that the premium monitoring services leverage. With Core monitoring we have access to Azure Monitor, Azure Advisor, Azure Service Health, and Activity Logs.

Shared Capabilities

Finally we have the shared monitoring capabilities that the core and deep monitoring services use to provide features like Alerts, Dashboards, and the Metrics Explorer.

Summary

Monitoring is an essential role in any application so that you can collect and analyze data to determine the performance, health and availability of your application and the resources that it depends on. Azure provides a very robust set of services from monitoring your application all the way down to the infrastructure it runs on.

Enjoy!

Resources

Azure Monitoring Docs

Overview of Monitoring in Azure 

Explore Azure Monitor to get started with core monitoring metrics and alerts

Explore Application Insights if you’re trying to diagnose problems in your App Service web app

Explore Log Analytics for analyzing collected monitoring data and logs

Azure

Know your Azure Regions and Locations

Microsoft is constantly expanding it’s Azure reach into new regions and locations. Recently Microsoft announced new regions in Europe, South Africa, and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Azure Regions

Today Azure has a total of 50 regions worldwide that span 140 countries. That’s more than all other cloud providers combined – offering the scale needed to bring applications closer to your users around the world, preserving data residency, and offering comprehensive compliance and resiliency options.

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With so many regions it’s important to know and select the appropriate region for your applications. This is where Azure locations comes in.

Azure Locations

When selecting an Azure Region you want to select the one that is closest to your users. For example if you have your application running in Toronto, Canada and you want to bring in some Azure resources you will want to select the Canadian region that is closest to Toronto, in this case you would choose Canada Central.

If you look at the Azure Locations page you will see that Canada East is located in Quebec City, and Canada Central is in Toronto.

Funny enough when I talk to new Azure users, more often than not they think Canada East is in Toronto and select the wrong region. If this case you can easily move the resources to another region, provided that region also offers those services. I say this because not all regions offer the same services.

Enjoy!

Resources

Azure Regions

Azure Locations

AzureIoT

Introducing Azure Sphere

Microsoft recently announced the introduction of Azure Sphere which is a low cost single chip computer that is described as a highly secured end-to-end solution for connected microcontroller powered devices. Azure Sphere includes three components working as one, a brand-new class of crossover microcontrollers running a secured operating system and supported by Azure cloud services. Along with advanced development tools, Azure Sphere is your opportunity to reimagine your business from the ground up.

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What is surprising to know is that Azure Sphere is powered by Linux and not Windows.

You can learn more about Azure Sphere here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-sphere/

Enjoy!

Resources

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-sphere/

Learn About Azure Sphere

Explore Details of Azure Sphere

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiDF26HNh-Y&feature=youtu.be

Azure

Azure Storage Explorer Reaches 1.0

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Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer is a cross platform client tool built on Electron that allows you to easily work with Azure Storage data on Windows, macOS and Linux. This tool also provides preview support for Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Data Lake Store.

I find this is a great tool to use when working with Azure Functions locally and you want to work with Azure Storage Accounts, both locally or in Azure.

Microsoft Azure Storage Explorer was updated on April 16 2018 to version 1.0 and is a big update with log of new features, bug fixes, and some breaking changes, so be sure to checkout the release notes on what is new and fixed.

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Breaking Changes

It’s worth pointing out the following breaking changes:

  • Storage Explorer has switched to a new authentication library. As part of the switch to the library, you will need to re-login to your accounts and re-set your filtered subscriptions
  • The method used to encrypt sensitive data has changed. This may result in some of your Quick Access items needing to be re-added and/or some of you attached resources needing to be reattached.

Download Details

Enjoy!

References

Azure Storage Explorer release notes

Feedback can be submitted to the Azure Storage Explorer issues page on GitHub

AzureEvents

Global Azure Bootcamp 2018

This coming weekend will be the 6th Global Azure Bootcamp, which is a worldwide series of one day technical learning events for Azure. This event is created and hosted by the leaders from the global cloud developer community.

This will be my first year attending the event and I’m honored to be one of the presenters at not one but two events in Mississauga and Kitchener/Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada. I’ll be speaking about Azure Event Grid and how it can be used in a serverless architecture in the cloud.

“The Global Azure Bootcamp is community at its finest. We are incredibly excited to see community leaders around the world rise up and help developers build the skills they need in today’s cloud-driven business environment. We’re here to help each of these community led events be a success and can’t wait to continue our decades-long commitment to the worldwide developer community,” says Jeff Sandquist, General Manager of the Azure Platform Experiences Group at Microsoft.

Map

I hope you’re able to attend one of the events happening this weekend around the world and learn something new about Azure.

Enjoy!

Resources

https://global.azurebootcamp.net/

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-ca/blog/globalazure-bootcamp-2018/

Azure

Comparing Azure Functions Runtime Versions

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Azure Functions now have 2 different runtimes, version 1 which is what is currently in production and the only runtime supported for production use, and version 2 which is currently in preview. I’ll cover the difference in both runtimes and when to use which version.

Overview or Version 1

The version 1 runtime is what is currently used in production and is the only version supported for production use. This runtime is based on .NET Framework 4.6 and only support Windows for development and/or hosting in the portal. Version 1 also only supports the following languages: C#, JavaScript, and F#.

What’s New in Version 2

Version 2 runtime has been rebuilt from the ground up on .NET Core 2.0 and support cross platform (Windows and Linux) for deployment and for development you can use Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Version 2 introduces language extension model that both JavaScript and Java are taking advantage of. There is also expanded language support for Java and more coming. We also have new bindings for Microsoft Graph and Durable Functions.

Azure Functions is a great serverless offering and provides lots of functionality for almost any application. If you need to run code in production than version 1 is your only choice, but if you want to try out Azure Functions then definitely take a look at both runtimes. With Microsoft annual developer conference Build next month, I bet we will hear more information about version 2 runtime and a timeline for release.

Enjoy!

References

Azure Functions runtime versions overview

Install Azure Functions Core Tools

Azure Functions Roadmap

Azure

Introduction to Durable Functions

Durable Functions is a new extension of Azure Functions which manages state, checkpoints and restarts for you. Durable Functions provide the capability to code stateful functions in a serverless environment. This new extension enables a new type of function called an orchestrator. The primary use case for Durable Functions is to simplify complex, stateful coordination problems in serverless applications. Some advantages of an orchestrator function are:

  • Workflows are defined in code. This means no JSON schemas or designers are needed.
  • Other functions can be called synchronously or asynchronously. Output from functions can be saved to local variables.
  • Automatic checkpoint the progress of the function whenever it awaits. This means local state is never lost if the process recycles or the VM reboots.

The following are 5 sample patterns where Durable Functions can help.

Pattern #1: Function Chaining

Function chaining is the execution of functions in sequence where the output of one function is the input to another function. With this pattern you typically use queues to pass state from function to function.

Function chaining diagram

Pattern #2: Fan-out/Fan-in

Fan-out/Fan-in refers to the execution of multiple functions in parallel and then waiting for all of them to finish. This pattern also uses queues to manage state from start to end. Fanning back in is much more complicated as you would have to track the outputs of all the functions waiting for them to finish.

Fan-out/fan-in diagram 

Pattern #3: Async HTTP APIs

Async HTTP APIs pattern is all about the problem of coordinating the state of long running operations with external APIs. With this pattern you often use another status endpoint for the client to check on the status of the long running operation.

HTTP API diagram

Pattern #4: Monitoring

The Monitoring pattern is a recurring process in a workflow where the function polls for a certain condition to be met. A simple timer trigger could address this but its interval is static and management of it is more complex.

Monitor diagram

Pattern #5: Human Interaction

Finally we have the Human Interaction pattern. This pattern is where a function executes but its process is gated based on some sort of human interaction. People are not always available or respond in a timely manner which introduces complexity to your function process.

Human interaction diagram

In all five use cases, Durable Functions provides built-in support for easily handling these scenarios without the need extra resources likes queues, timers, etc for managing state and controlling the function flow. For more information on each of these patterns and code samples please see the Durable Functions documentation.

Durable Functions is currently in preview and is an advanced extension for Azure Functions that is not appropriate for all scenarios. Next month is the annual Microsoft developer conference Build. I suspect we’ll see some new exciting details with Azure Functions and Durable Functions specifically. Hopefully they become generally available.

Enjoy!

References

Overview of Azure Functions

Durable Functions Documentation