May 21, 2024


As we head into the fourth calendar yr of the Advancing Reliability weblog collection, empowering organizations to run their workloads reliably on Azure stays one in all our prime priorities. We regularly put money into evolving the Azure platform to assist obtain this every day. Your potential to observe digital machine (VM) availability in a strong and complete means is paramount to making sure that your functions can be found and resilient. For right this moment’s put up within the collection, I’ve requested Program Supervisor, Pujitha Desiraju, from our Azure Core Platform Fundamentals Engineering crew to speak concerning the newest observability enhancements for VM availability monitoring, in addition to deliberate investments to ship the perfect monitoring expertise.”—Mark Russinovich, CTO, Azure


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

Flash, because the mission is internally identified, is a set of efforts throughout Azure Engineering, that goals to evolve Azure’s digital machine (VM) availability monitoring ecosystem right into a centralized, holistic, and intelligible answer prospects can depend on to satisfy their particular observability wants. Right now, we’re excited to announce the completion of the mission’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 identify from our dedication to constructing strong and speedy methods to observe digital machine (VM) availability as comprehensively as attainable—a key prerequisite for environment friendly utility 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, utility freezes because 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 tendencies 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 related—all to allow focused investigations and autopsy analyses.
  • Obtain instantaneous notifications on important adjustments in VM availability to shortly set off remediation actions and forestall end-user affect.
  • Dynamically tailor and automate platform restoration insurance policies, based mostly on ever-changing workload sensitivities and failover wants.

With these objectives in thoughts, we’ve divided our execution technique into two phases—a near-term section to satisfy important present wants, and a long-term section to ship the perfect VM availability monitoring expertise. This two-phased strategy helps us regularly bridge gaps, iterate on service high quality, and study out of your suggestions at each step alongside the way in which.

Saying new monitoring choices

For the primary section, we’re offering totally different choices to allow handy entry to VM availability knowledge to handle a spread of observability wants. We goal to take care of knowledge consistency with related rigorous high quality requirements throughout all of those current 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

Right now, we’re excited to achieve 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 potential to question throughout many subscriptions, and at low latencies. We’re presently emitting VM availability states (Obtainable, Unavailable, and Unknown) to the Well being Sources desk in Azure Useful resource Graph, so you may carry out complicated Kusto Question Language (KQL) queries for sieving by way of massive datasets directly. This performance is useful for monitoring historic adjustments 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 eventualities to the Well being Sources desk in Azure Useful resource Graph, later this yr. These particulars will guarantee you’re correctly knowledgeable on the trigger and affect of any failures—so you may both failover, reboot in place, or take the suitable mitigations to forestall end-user affect.

    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 Sources 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 collection representations of VM availability for fast and straightforward debugging, receiving scoped alerts on regarding tendencies, catching early indicators of degraded availability, correlating with different platform metrics, and extra.

    The metric means that you can observe the heartbeat of your VMs—throughout anticipated conduct, the metric shows a price of 1. In response to any VM availability disruptions, the metric dips to a zero throughout affect. 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 mirror VM availability disruptions.

    We launched the non-public preview of the metric as section one in all our rollout plan, and are presently gathering buyer suggestions, to additional enhance our providing. We’re planning so as to add failure particulars akin to metric dimensions and platform logs subsequent yr, to help you exactly alert on failure eventualities 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 current options by enhancing 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 affect. To assist you in your each day operations, we’re planning to design a notification mechanism that leverages the low-latency expertise of Azure Occasion Grid. This can help you merely subscribe to an Occasion Grid system matter, and route scoped occasions through 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 particular set of unanticipated Availability disruptions. This knob can be made accessible through the portal or on the time of VM deployment and could be up to date dynamically. Notice that leveraging this characteristic will render the standard 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, Dwell 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 info enrichments and expertise 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 will cut back unknown or lacking well being standing reviews, emit actionable failure particulars, and deal with platform restoration customizations. This stays our prime funding space on which we proceed to iterate each cycle.
    2. Root trigger evaluation (RCA) automation: We’re planning to implement straightforward monitoring mechanisms for each distinctive VM downtime, together with automated development and emission of detailed downtime RCA statements to cut back handbook monitoring and churn in your finish.
    3. AIOps integration: We want to leverage the super developments being made in AIOps throughout Microsoft, for enabling good insights and anomaly detection and analysis throughout the multitude of information factors on VM Availability.
    4. Centralized and cohesive consumer expertise: We acknowledge that a consequence of our near-term strategy is that throughout our totally different providers now we have a number of monitoring, alerting, and restoration instruments which can result in a complicated and disparate expertise for you. This can be a downside we intend to resolve with our closing section. Our north star purpose is to supply end-users entry to distinct and mandatory representations of VM availability, consolidated inside Azure Monitor, and categorized in response to frequent utilization patterns for discoverability, ease of use and intuitive onboarding.

    Study extra

    This listing is definitely not exhaustive as now we have 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 adjustments within the well being of your workloads, in the end to take care of your individual SLAs and enterprise guarantees.

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


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