Building Global Web Applications With the Windows Azure Platform – Monitoring

In the fourth installment of the series on building global web applications I want to dive a bit deeper into monitoring your instances, as measuring and monitoring is key to efficient capacity management. The goal of capacity management should be to optimally use the instances that you have, ideally all aspects of your instances are utilised for about 80% before you decide to pay more and scale out.

Windows azure offers a wide range of capabilities when it comes to monitoring, by means of the WAD (Windows Azure Diagnostics) service, which can be configured to expose all kinds of information about your instances, including event logs, trace logs, IIS logs, performance counters and many more. The WAD can be configured both from code as by means of a configuration file that can be included in your deployment. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg604918.aspx for more details on this configuration file.

Personally I prefer using the configuration file for anything that is not specific to my code, like machine level performance counters, but I do use code for things like trace logs. To enable a specific performance counter on all your instances, specify it in the performance counters, including the rate at which the counter should be collected.

<PerformanceCounters bufferQuotaInMB="512" scheduledTransferPeriod="PT1M">
    <PerformanceCounterConfiguration counterSpecifier="\Processor(_Total)\% Processor Time" sampleRate="PT5S" />
    <PerformanceCounterConfiguration counterSpecifier="\Memory\% Committed Bytes In Use" sampleRate="PT5S" />
</PerformanceCounters>

Note that I only collect processor time and memory consumption from the instances, bandwidth throttling is performed at the network level, not the instance level, so you cannot collect any valuable data for this metric.

The diagnostics manager will transfer this information to your storage account, that you specified in your service configuration file under the key Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Plugins.Diagnostics.ConnectionString, at the rate mentioned in the ScheduledTransferPeriod property of the PerformanceCounters element.

Now, I admit, today the Windows Azure management tooling offered by MS is a bit lacking in terms of visualising diagnostics and monitoring information. But there is a third party product, Diagnostics Manager by Cerebrata, that covers this gap very well. Here you can see how Diagnostics Manager visualises the memory and cpu usage in my instance.

Note, the consumption rates are very low now, only 20% of memory and just a few percent cpu is effectively used at the time of measurement. this is because I upscaled to a small web role in the mean time and wasn’t executing any tests when monitoring the instance.

So, now that you know how to monitor your instances efficiently it is time to start filling up the free capacity that is sitting idle in your machines, but that is for next time when I will discuss the holy grail of capacity management: dynamically work load allocation.

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3 Responses to Building Global Web Applications With the Windows Azure Platform – Monitoring

  1. Igor Papirov says:

    Yves,

    Thank you for a great blog post. I’d like to welcome you and your readers to check out an autoscaling and monitoring solution AzureWatch In addition to Cerebrata’s awesome charting and log examination tools, AzureWatch is there 24/7 monitoring the deployments, autoscaling if demand increases or decreases, and sending out emails when things go not as planned.

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