Azure Monitoring Software Buying Guide – How to select a monitoring vendor for your Azure hosted resources and infrastructure?

Every modern IT department needs a cloud monitoring and metrics infrastructure. The hefty cost and consequences of downtime alone makes monitoring operational performance and metrics a necessity.  Absence of a monitoring strategy can result in an organization spending thousands of dollars and man hours on myriad of ad hoc efforts.  These efforts and strategies often take time away from your IT engineering team that struggles to solve their individual monitoring and performance needs.

Similarly, monitoring various Azure services is a complicated task especially if you have hundreds of different resources to monitor (Virtual Machines, Cloud Services, Service Bus, SQL Databases, Storage, Virtual Networks etc).  Number of monitoring tools has increased since in the last 5 years and it became very difficult to differentiate and select from them – as they all claim and sound quite similar.

This article will provide some important considerations that will help you in evaluating and narrowing your search for the best Azure Monitoring Solution.

Which Azure hosted instances / resources / services do you intend to monitor?

This is perhaps the most basic of question that must be addressed before you even start searching for a cloud monitoring vendor. You need to know and define the scope of your monitoring requirements. Azure Cloud Services Platform is a large and complex system when it comes to the breadth of cloud based resources, services and use cases it delivers. An organization’s monitoring needs may span from a single Azure Web App backed by a SQL Azure database to complex 

to a cluster of virtual machines with Azure SQL Databases, Service Bus integrations, Storage Accounts and more.

Similarly, an Azure Monitoring Software may monitor all or specific resources (such as SQL Database) of Azure Cloud Platform. Therefore, it is essential to define the scope of your Azure Cloud Services monitoring needs to be better able to search, shortlist and test azure monitoring software’s and solutions.

Who will use the monitoring application?

There will be many users that will consume the data generated from a monitoring system. They can include server administrators, network administrators, database administrators and more. It is essential to list down all possible users and data users of the monitoring software.

On the other hand, the monitoring software must be able to service users from different job settings, needs and backgrounds. It must be able to equip all users with the data they need – including non technical business executives that requires routine IT reports.

Does the new monitoring solution require new skills to learn before using it?

It is often difficult to procure a monitoring system that has a difficult and lengthy learning curve attached to it. If the monitoring solution requires going through a truck load of manuals and complex datasheets, chances are that the monitoring software adoption rate will be very low.

Consider selecting monitoring software that is quick to install and integrate, has a minimal learning curve and provides easy to understand monitoring data and statistics.

Tip – Most Azure Monitoring Software’s provides a Free Trial or Freemium version of the product. Test it out before deploying / buying. Additionally, use can view screenshots from the vendor website or third party apps review websites to know more about the product.

How powerful is it in capturing data?

An Azure Monitoring Software must be able to reach every corner of monitored Azure Resource to provide a broad view of resource / service performance. Rather than basic up / down messages, the Azure Monitoring Software must provide meaningful data and insight to help Azure administrators in evaluating system utilization, troubleshooting issues and improving system performance.

Does it provide data visualizations?

Data visualizations help in understanding and evaluating complex data through easy to understand graphs and charts. For system / cloud administrators, Azure monitoring dashboards simplifies complex system performance and operational data into easy to understand charts and illustrations. An all inclusive central and resource level Azure Monitoring Dashboard is an essential component for monitoring software and must be a key consideration when selecting software.

Will the new monitoring solution works well with the monitoring solutions your company already use?

Azure Cloud Service Platform also provides native monitoring tools and capabilities such as via Azure Diagnostics API. It is important that the new monitoring system is able to integrate with existing Azure monitoring solutions. Look for an Azure Monitoring Software that can easily and quickly integrate with native Azure diagnostics and monitoring services. Rather than wrecking productivity, a new monitoring system will work fine if it is able to play well with the tools you or your team use and likes.

Does the new monitoring software integrate with third party applications?

You might need integration of third party apps and services to enhance the monitoring scope. Such as integrating and pushing data from the monitoring software to a customer support /ticketing solution. In a connected world where multiple software and systems work together to deliver a holistic monitoring solution, it is essential that an Azure Monitoring Software is able to connect and integrate with supporting third party apps and services – ideally at a plug and play level.

How many metrics it provides?

Performance Indicators and Metrics are the heart of any cloud monitoring solution and are the most utilized monitoring data. Typically, it is helpful to list down important performance metrics essential for your cloud environment.  Each cloud environment has different operational and performance requirements, therefore, varying performance metrics.

Ideally, the Azure Monitoring Software must provide linked and aggregate metrics in addition to the resource specific performance and utilization metrics.  The linked and aggregate metrics helps in evaluating and understanding performance of the monitored resource beyond standard monitoring metrics.

Does it help in making decisions using live and historical data?

Though live data is helpful in reviewing the current status of the system, it is also essential to use historical data for correlating current issues with the past and troubleshooting problems at hand.  An Azure Monitoring Software must be able to provide archival data to review system performance and states back in time.

 

Does it provide alerts and notifications on important system alerts?

A monitoring system is incomplete if it doesn’t generate alerts, notifications and warnings on important Azure specific system performance events. An Azure Monitoring Software needs to detect and report on important performance events and scenarios as they happen. Moreover, it must provide the ability to push system alerts to other connected devices and applications rather than just on the monitoring dashboard.

How responsive is the monitoring system?

A monitoring system at the very least needs to be responsive in terms of detecting, logging and reporting system performance, utilization and other issues. A monitoring system that is slow to react and report to system issues is not different than having no monitoring. In the ideal world, a cloud monitoring software must report on system statistics every second.

Does it enable in automating system troubleshooting and maintenance processes?

A monitoring system coupled with automation of system recovery processes makes the job of azure administrators much easier. Azure Automation enables azure administrators in configuring auto recovery, self healing and other automotive processes. This ensures that the Azure resource / system automatically troubleshoot, scale, maintain or recover when certain conditions happen.

Keeping an optimal cloud environment is not an easy task. It’s an ongoing process that works to protect the Azure Cloud environment from outages, broken systems, and random IT failure.  An Azure Monitoring Software that provides with an appropriate set of monitoring tools helps ensure a healthier infrastructure.

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