Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Mihai Corbuleac, David Bermingham

Related Topics: Microsoft Cloud, @CloudExpo

Microsoft Cloud: Blog Feed Post

Windows Azure Custom Monitor in C#

There are three types of scalable compute instances which you can run in the cloud

In this article we’ll describe the Windows Azure monitor written in C#. Windows Azure has a set of different services, but we’ll limit our article to only those services that we use for capturing performance counters. If you’re new to Windows Azure and want more information you can visit the Microsoft Azure website.

Windows Azure Compute

There are three types of scalable compute instances which you can run in the cloud.

· Web Role – provide a dedicated Internet Information Services (IIS) web-server used for hosting front-end web applications.

· Worker Role – can run asynchronous, long-running or perpetual tasks independent of user interaction or input.

· VM Role – Virtual Machine (VM) roles, now in Beta, enable you to deploy a custom Windows Server 2008 R2 (Enterprise or Standard) image to Windows Azure.

image

The current version of our Azure Monitor supports capturing performance counters for the Web Role or the Worker Role. For a complete overview of available metrics, click here. In addition to the standard performance counters, Windows Azure allows for custom performance counters.

In our custom monitor, the performance counters are configured by calling the SetupCounters method in project HostWorkerRole. The sample code is of the Worker Role which is deployed to the Azure Compute Service.

Windows Azure Storage.

Windows Azure Storage provides secure and scalable storage services that are highly available and durable. The Storage service supports virtually all types of storage needs, from structured to unstructured data, NoSQL databases, and queues. You can find more information about this service here. Some of the most practical uses of Azure Storage are:

  • BLOB (Binary Large Object) storage. BLOB Storage is the simplest way to store large amounts of unstructured text or binary data such as video, audio and images.
  • Table storage is used by applications requiring storing large amounts of data storage that need additional structure. While a table stores structured data, it does not provide any way to represent relationships between the data, sometimes called a NoSQL database. You can use SQL Azure for relational database service on Windows Azure.
  • Queue used for reliable, persistent messaging between applications. You can use Queues to transfer messages between applications or services in Windows Azure.
  • Windows Azure Drive allows applications to mount a Blob formatted as a single volume NTFS VHD. You can move your VHDs between private and public clouds using Windows Azure Drive.

All of these storage types related to a Storage Account, which is created in the Windows Azure dashboard.

Windows Azure Storage Analytics performs logging and provides metrics data for a storage account. You can use this data to trace requests, analyze usage trends, and diagnose issues with your storage account. A detailed overview is available on MSDN.

Storage Analytics Metrics can report transaction statistics and capacity data for a storage account. All metrics data is stored in two tables per service: one table for transaction information, and another table for capacity information. Transaction information consists of request and response data. Capacity information consists of storage usage data. As of version 1.0 of Storage Analytics, capacity data will only be reported for the Blob service. The current implementation of our monitor application supports analytics for the Table service. In the future it can be expanded to support Blobs and Queues.

Azure Pricing Information

Windows Azure Diagnostic collects diagnostic data from instances and copies it to a Window Azure Storage account (either on blob and table storage). Those diagnostic data (such as log) can indeed help developer for the purpose of monitoring performance and tracing source of failure if exception occurs.

We’ll need to define what kind of log (IIS Logs, Crash Dumps, FREB Logs, Arbitrary log files, Performance Counters, Event Logs, etc.) to be collected and send to Windows Azure Storage either on-schedule-basis or on-demand.

However, if you are not careful defining your needs for diagnostic information, you could end up paying an unexpected high bill. At the time of this writing, the cost is as follows:

  • $0.14 per GB stored per month based on the daily average
  • $0.01 per 10,000 storage transactions

Some Figures for Illustration

Assuming the following figures:

  • You have a few applications that require high processing power of 100 instances
  • You apply five performance counter logs (Processor% Processor Time, MemoryAvailable Bytes, PhysicalDisk% Disk Time, Network Interface Connection: Bytes Total/sec, Processor Interrupts/sec)
  • Perform a scheduled transfer with an interval of 5 seconds
  • The instance will run 24 hours per day, 30 days per month

Given the above scenario, the total number of transactions comes to 259,200,000 each month (5 counters X 12 times X 60 min X 24 hours X 30 days X 100 instances), or $259/month.

Now what if you don’t really need that many counters every 5 seconds and reduce them to 3 counters and monitor it every 20 seconds? In this case it would be 3 counters X 3 times X 60 min X 24 hours X 30 days X 100 instances = 3,8880,000 transactions, or $38/month. Windows Azure Diagnostic is needed but using it improperly may be more expensive than you bargained for.

Storage Analytics is enabled by a storage account owner; it is not enabled by default. All metrics data is written by the services of a storage account. As a result, each write operation performed by Storage Analytics is billable. Additionally, the amount of storage used by metrics data is also billable.

The following actions performed by Storage Analytics are billable:

  • Requests to create blobs for logging
  • Requests to create table entities for metrics

If you have configured a data retention policy, you are not charged for delete transactions when Storage Analytics deletes old logging and metrics data. However, delete transactions from a client are billable.

Mediator Project

The Mediator application makes it possible to retrieve performance counter values and Storage Account Table metrics Windows Azure. The following performance counters are included:

  • \Processor(_Total)\% Processor Time
  • \Memory\Available Bytes

Table metrics:

  • TotalRequests – the number of requests made to a storage service or the specified API operation. This number includes successful and failed requests, as well as requests which produced errors.
  • TotalBillableRequests – the number of billable requests.
  • Availability – the percentage of availability for the storage service or the specified API operation. Availability is calculated by taking the TotalBillableRequests value and dividing it by the number of applicable requests,including those that produced unexpected errors. All unexpected errors result in reduced availability for the storage service or the specified API operation.

Each metric or performance counter gets its own monitor on the Dashboard at www.monitis.com.

Windows Azure Storage Metrics allows you to track your aggregated storage usage for Blobs, Tables and Queues. The details include capacity, per service request summary, and per API level aggregates. The metrics information is useful to see an aggregate view of how a given storage account’s blobs, tables or queues are doing over time.  It makes it very easy to see the types of errors that are occurring to help tune your system and diagnose problems and the ability to see daily trends of its usage.  For example, the metrics data can be used to understand the request breakdown (by hour).

Mediator Workflow

The application performs the role of Mediator between the Windows Azure Table Service and public API of monitis.com. To get started, the first step is to specify the API key to access REST service on www.monitis.com.

image

After logging in the Mediator will check if all required monitors are already created on the Monitis Dashboard. If they are not, you can use the create button to create all the required monitors.

image

Once the monitors have been created, the “Next” button will enabled and you will see all the monitors created be Mediator on the dashboard.

image

Next, Mediator needs your account information for Windows Azure Storage Account so we can access the performance and metrics data for monitor. If you don’t have it the account information, you can check “Use Default” and all values will fill with test credentials.

image

Click on “Apply” to check the credentials and test the connection to the Windows Azure Table Service. The applications will also check the existence of the table PerformanceCounter data. This table will automatically be created when the installation configures capturing of performance counters. For example, the table name for performance counters is “WADPerformanceCountersTable”.

After this is done, you will see a screen where you can configure the interval period in seconds used synchronize the data to the Monitis monitor. If there is actual data in the performance counters table, you should see a chart like this:

image

The optimal value for the current performance counters configuration is 180 seconds.

For the Storage Account Analytics you will see a section that allows you to specify the time period you want to synchronize between Azure and Monitis.

image

Select the time period and click “Sync”. After this is completed you’ll see the result of Storage Analytics and performance counters:

image

Performance counters and analytics metrics can work together. This means that you can start the Mediation process for performance counters and at the same time use the “Sync” button for the Storage Account Analytics.

Here are some links with more information:

More Stories By Hovhannes Avoyan

Hovhannes Avoyan is the CEO of PicsArt, Inc.,

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profession...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Apixio Inc. has raised $19.3 million in Series D venture capital funding led by SSM Partners with participation from First Analysis, Bain Capital Ventures and Apixio’s largest angel investor. Apixio will dedicate the proceeds toward advancing and scaling products powered by its cognitive computing platform, further enabling insights for optimal patient care. The Series D funding comes as Apixio experiences strong momentum and increasing demand for its HCC Profiler solution, which mines unstruc...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...