Azure's monitoring services

Natasha Ong
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4 min read

In a nutshell:

Azure Advisor is your personal cloud expert that gives you real-time tips and notifications to improve how your use your Azure resources, from improving reliability to cost savings.
Azure Service Health gives you  the full story on Azure's health - from how Azure is doing globally, down to your specific resources. You can even investigate past alerts to identify trends.
Azure Monitor is a platform for collecting data on your resources, analysing and visualising them, and even acting on the results.
Note: Azure Monitor uses data to monitor the performance and health of your resources. In contrast, Azure Purview manages and secures data, making sure it's classified, categorised, and properly governed.

Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor is like having a personal cloud expert. It checks your Azure resources and offers you tips to make them better, from being more reliable and secure to performing at their best and saving money.

Here's how Azure Advisor works with you:

  • Recommendations galore: Azure Advisor gives you suggestions that you can use right away or put on your to-do list. Or if you don't like them, you can just ignore them.
  • Notifications: It can also ping you through the Azure portal when it has new advice, so you're always in the know.

When you're in the Azure portal, the Advisor dashboard displays personalised recommendations for all your subscriptions. You can use filters to select recommendations for specific subscriptions, resource groups, or services. The advice comes in five flavours:

  • Reliability makes sure your important apps are up and running smoothly.
  • Security detects threats and vulnerabilities that might lead to security breaches.
  • Performance improves the speed of your applications.
  • Operational excellence helps you manage your resources (for example, whether you're using resource groups), and makes sure you're following best practices for reliable, secure and scalable applications and services. It can also suggest ways for you to save time, such as automating repetitive tasks.
  • Cost makes recommendations around unused resources and ways to optimise your services. You can also set spending limits on your costs to prevent accidental overcharging.
  • Note: You've learnt about using the pricing and TCO calculators - but they don't tell you how much you're actually spending! To monitor your actual costs, use the Azure Advisor.

Here's a peek of what those five flavours look like in your Azure Portal!

Screenshot of the Azure Advisor dashboard with boxes for the main areas of recommendations.

Azure Service Health

Azure Service Health is your health monitor for all things Azure. It keeps tabs on your Azure resources and the big picture of how Azure is doing worldwide.

Azure Service Health splits into three cool parts:

  • Azure Status: This one shows you what's happening with Azure everywhere. If there's a service outage, or other incidents with a widespread impact, you'll see it here first.
  • Service Health: This one focuses on the Azure services and regions that you are using. Service Health is where you should check for important updates on service issues, maintenance, and health advisories that might affect you. You can set up alerts for them too.
  • Resource Health: This is like a magnifying glass for your actual Azure resources. It tells you the health of individual resources like a particular virtual machine. You can also set up alerts to notify you if any of your cloud resources are no longer up and running smoothly.

Pro tip: historical alerts. The alerts that Azure Service Health sends you are stored and accessible for later review. Something you initially thought was a simple occurrence can actually be a trend, and you can track your historical alerts to review and investigate what's been happening.

Azure Monitor

Azure Monitor is a platform for collecting data on your resources, analysing and visualising them, and even acting on the results.

Where does that data come from? Azure Monitor monitors your Azure, on-premise, and even multi-cloud resources (e.g. a virtual machine hosted with AWS)!

Here's how Azure Monitor works

  1. Data collection: Azure Monitor collects data from all your different sources and at every level - from application, to operating system, to the underlying network.
  2. Storage space: This data gets stored in one place for easy access.
  3. All-seeing eye: You can see your data in different ways, from high-level reports to detailed views. You can also break down your reports by the layer (e.g. application layer, operating system layer), and whether you want to see real-time or historical data.
  4. Action time: If anything's not right, you get alerts (through text messages, emails and more) so you can fix it in real-time. You can even make it do things automatically.

The Azure Monitor tools to watch

Azure Monitor has some extra tools for you to make the most out of the data it collects:

  • Azure Log Analytics: This is where you write queries to check out your data. You can keep it simple (e.g. sorting and filtering) or go deep (e.g. analysing data to find trends).
  • Azure Monitor alerts: These are custom alerts - you decide when you should be notified (i.e. a specific event happens, or a limit gets crossed), and what Azure Monitor should do when it happens. This means you can give Azure Monitor the power to automatically correct anything that shouldn't be happening.
  • For example, you could set a metric-based alert up to notify you when more than 80% of a virtual machine's computing power is being used.
  • Application Insights: monitors web applications that are running in Azure, on-premises, or in a different cloud environment. For example, it tracks how fast your websites' pages load on your users' devices. You can also use Application Insights to send test requests to your app. For example, you can ask it to try log in to your app with a false username and password. This way, you can always keep an eye on how your app is doing and whether there are any hiccups to look out for.

Help! What's the difference between Azure Monitor and Azure Purview?

It can be a little confusing trying to understand the differences between these two services, especially because both work with data that live in on-premise data centres and other cloud providers.

Azure Monitor's primary focus is on monitoring and optimising the performance and health of your resources, based on data. In contrast, Azure Purview primarily focuses on managing and securing data, making sure it's classified, categorised, and properly governed.