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Advancing Azure Digital Machine availability monitoring with Challenge Flash | Azure Weblog and Updates

As we head into the fourth calendar yr of the Advancing Reliability weblog sequence, empowering organizations to run their workloads reliably on Azure stays one in every of our high priorities. We frequently spend money on evolving the Azure platform to assist obtain this every day. Your capability to watch digital machine (VM) availability in a sturdy and complete approach is paramount to making sure that your functions can be found and resilient. For immediately’s submit within the sequence, I’ve requested Program Supervisor, Pujitha Desiraju, from our Azure Core Platform Fundamentals Engineering crew to speak in regards to the newest observability enhancements for VM availability monitoring, in addition to deliberate investments to ship the most effective monitoring expertise.”—Mark Russinovich, CTO, Azure


This submit was co-authored by Principal Software program Engineering Supervisor, Gaurav Jagtiani.

Flash, because the venture is internally identified, is a group of efforts throughout Azure Engineering, that goals to evolve Azure’s digital machine (VM) availability monitoring ecosystem right into a centralized, holistic, and intelligible resolution clients can depend on to satisfy their particular observability wants. At the moment, we’re excited to announce the completion of the venture’s first two milestones—the preview of VM availability knowledge in Azure Useful resource Graph, and the non-public preview of a VM availability metric in Azure Monitor.

What’s Challenge Flash?

Challenge Flash derives its title from our dedication to constructing sturdy and fast methods to watch digital machine (VM) availability as comprehensively as attainable—a key prerequisite for environment friendly software efficiency. It’s our mission to make sure you can:

  • Eat correct and actionable knowledge on VM availability disruptions (for instance, VM reboots and restarts, software freezes as a result of community driver updates, and 30-second host OS updates), together with exact failure particulars (for instance, platform versus user-initiated, reboot versus freeze, deliberate versus unplanned).
  • Analyze and alert on traits in VM availability for fast debugging and month-over-month reporting.
  • Periodically monitor knowledge at scale and construct customized dashboards to remain up to date on the most recent availability states of all sources.
  • Obtain automated root trigger analyses (RCAs) detailing impacted VMs, downtime trigger and period, consequent fixes, and comparable—all to allow focused investigations and autopsy analyses.
  • Obtain instantaneous notifications on vital modifications in VM availability to rapidly set off remediation actions and forestall end-user impression.
  • Dynamically tailor and automate platform restoration insurance policies, based mostly on ever-changing workload sensitivities and failover wants.

With these targets in thoughts, we’ve divided our execution technique into two phases—a near-term section to satisfy vital present wants, and a long-term section to ship the most effective VM availability monitoring expertise. This two-phased method helps us frequently bridge gaps, iterate on service high quality, and be taught out of your suggestions at each step alongside the best way.

Saying new monitoring choices

For the primary section, we’re offering totally different choices to allow handy entry to VM availability knowledge to deal with a spread of observability wants. We intention to take care of knowledge consistency with comparable rigorous high quality requirements throughout all of those present options and options, like Useful resource Well being or Exercise Log, to ship a constant view agnostic of the answer you select.

Introducing at-scale evaluation for VM availability

At the moment, we’re excited to succeed in our first Challenge Flash milestone—with the preview launch of VM availability states in Azure Useful resource Graph for at-scale programmatic consumption.

Azure Useful resource Graph is a service in Azure that’s extensively adopted for its environment friendly capability to question throughout many subscriptions, unexpectedly and at low latencies. We’re presently emitting VM availability states (Obtainable, Unavailable, and Unknown) to the Well being Assets desk in Azure Useful resource Graph, so you may carry out advanced Kusto Question Language (KQL) queries for sieving via giant datasets directly. This performance is useful for monitoring historic modifications in VM availability, for constructing customized dashboards, and for performing detailed investigations throughout quite a few useful resource properties unfold throughout a number of tables.

Azure Resource Graph Explorer Window with query and results, to demonstrate fetching data from the HealthResources table.

Determine 1: Azure Useful resource Graph Explorer Window with question and outcomes, to exhibit fetching knowledge from the HealthResources desk.

We’re planning so as to add failure particulars and degraded VM situations to the Well being Assets desk in Azure Useful resource Graph, later this yr. These particulars will guarantee you’re correctly knowledgeable on the trigger and impression of any failures—so you may both failover, reboot in place, or take the suitable mitigations to forestall end-user impression.

Navigate to Azure Useful resource Graph Explorer on the Azure portal to get began with any of the KQL queries printed for the Well being Assets desk.

Introducing VM availability metric in Azure Monitor

We’re additionally happy to announce the non-public preview of an out-of-box VM availability metric in Azure Monitor, for a curated metric alerting and monitoring expertise.

Metrics in Azure Monitor are nice for monitoring and analyzing time sequence representations of VM availability for fast and simple debugging, receiving scoped alerts on regarding traits, catching early indicators of degraded availability, correlating with different platform metrics, and extra.

The metric means that you can observe the heart beat of your VMs—throughout anticipated habits, the metric shows a worth of 1. In response to any VM availability disruptions, the metric dips to a 0 at some stage in impression. In case of an Azure infrastructure outage, we are going to emit nulls represented as a dotted line on the portal.

Screenshot of VM availability metric as seen on Metrics Explorer in the Azure portal, with occasional dips to reflect VM availability disruptions.

Determine 2: Screenshot of VM availability metric as seen on Metrics Explorer within the Azure portal, with occasional dips to replicate VM availability disruptions.

We launched the non-public preview of the metric as section one in every of our rollout plan, and are presently gathering buyer suggestions, to additional enhance our providing. We’re planning so as to add failure particulars comparable to metric dimensions and platform logs subsequent yr, to assist you to exactly alert on failure situations which can be impactful.

Coming quickly

The 2 monitoring choices launched above are only the start for Challenge Flash! We are going to proceed to construct upon our present options by bettering knowledge high quality and failure attribution. In parallel, we’re designing two new monitoring choices to satisfy your latency and mitigation wants, whereas additionally investing closely within the underlying platform to make our fault detection extra resilient and complete.

Azure Occasion Grid for instantaneous notifications

Efficiently operating business-critical functions requires hyper-awareness of any VM availability impacting occasion, so remediation actions could be triggered instantaneously to forestall end-user impression. To assist you in your each day operations, we’re planning to design a notification mechanism that leverages the low-latency know-how of Azure Occasion Grid. This may assist you to merely subscribe to an Occasion Grid system matter, and route scoped occasions by way of occasion handlers to any downstream tooling, instantaneously.

Automate and tailor platform restoration insurance policies

Contemplating the quite a few ongoing investments to enhance your VM availability monitoring expertise, Challenge Flash intends to empower you even additional by offering you knobs to customise restoration insurance policies triggered by the platform, in response to circumstances of VM availability disruptions.

One such knob we’re designing is the flexibility to opt-out of Service Therapeutic for single-instance VMs, in response to a selected set of unanticipated Availability disruptions. This knob shall be made obtainable by way of the portal or on the time of VM deployment and could be up to date dynamically. Notice that leveraging this characteristic will render the same old Azure Digital Machine availability SLAs ineffective.

Sooner or later, we are going to discover introducing knobs to additionally opt-out of different relevant restoration insurance policies (for instance, Stay Migration or Tardigrade), to make sure you can simply adapt to your ever-changing mitigation wants.

Ongoing platform high quality investments

Whereas the primary section is designed to satisfy your present observability wants, we stay centered on our long-term purpose of delivering a world-class observability expertise surrounding VM availability. We’re extraordinarily excited for all the information enrichments and know-how developments that may contribute to this expertise, so right here’s an early take a look at our roadmap of deliberate investments:

  1. Fault detection and attribution: We’re repeatedly evolving our underlying infrastructure to detect and attribute failures each exactly and instantaneously—in order that we are able to cut back unknown or lacking well being standing studies, emit actionable failure particulars, and deal with platform restoration customizations. This stays our high funding space on which we proceed to iterate each cycle.
  2. Root trigger evaluation (RCA) automation: We’re planning to implement simple monitoring mechanisms for each distinctive VM downtime, together with automated development and emission of detailed downtime RCA statements to cut back guide monitoring and churn in your finish.
  3. AIOps integration: We want to leverage the great developments being made in AIOps throughout Microsoft, for enabling good insights and anomaly detection and prognosis throughout the multitude of information factors on VM Availability.
  4. Centralized and cohesive consumer expertise: We acknowledge {that a} consequence of our near-term method is that throughout our totally different providers we’ve a number of monitoring, alerting, and restoration instruments which can result in a complicated and disparate expertise for you. It is a downside we intend to unravel with our remaining section. Our north star purpose is to supply end-users entry to distinct and crucial representations of VM availability, consolidated inside Azure Monitor, and categorized in response to frequent utilization patterns for discoverability, ease of use and intuitive onboarding.

Be taught extra

This record is actually not exhaustive as we’ve a number of enrichments deliberate as a part of our long-term technique. To reiterate, our intention with Challenge Flash is to make VM availability monitoring extraordinarily intuitive, complete, and seamless—so you’re at all times ready for and knowledgeable about any modifications within the well being of your workloads, finally to take care of your personal SLAs and enterprise guarantees.

We are going to proceed to share updates on Challenge Flash via blogs like this, to make sure you keep updated on the most recent. Keep tuned!



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