Instana Extends Support for Azure Cloud Services

September 25, 2018

Over the past few years Microsoft Azure has become a top enterprise cloud computing platform and usage is accelerating at a faster pace than other top cloud providers. At Instana, enabling our customers to benefit from easy installation and operation of infrastructure and application monitoring has always been a central part of our mission. This philosophy includes providing support for cloud services, on-prem services, and any combination of the two if you’re heading down the hybrid cloud path.

Extending Support for the Azure Ecosystem

Starting out with supporting a broad bandwidth of both Open-Source and Commercial software packages, we are constantly added support for managed offerings by cloud-providers. We know that many companies are adopting a multi-cloud provider strategy, mixing service offerings to fit their technical and business requirements. Instana provides best in class support for many service offerings across all of the major cloud providers. In Azure, we’ve previously announced that we support their version of Kubernetes as a Service also known as AKS.

While defining our roadmap, our first goal is to support infrastructure-monitoring for the services we see our customers using. This can be simple things like Storage Accounts, but also more complex things like AKS and Service Fabric clusters.

Some of these services – such as AKS or Service Fabric – are bound to virtual machines which are accessible in a way that allows us to install our monitoring agent. Other services – such as App Services or Azure Functions – do not allow the installation of an agent. So how do we support these? The answer is pretty simple: By monitoring them remotely.

All you have to do to get you started is install the agent on a host which can reach out to the cloud and provide the appropriate authentication details. In the case of Azure configuring a service-principal is all it takes in order to monitor any service used in the context of a complete subscription.

It’s a 5 minutes setup process if you don’t already have a read-access service-principal on your subscription – from creating the principal, to configuring it for the agent, to running the agent.

After these initial five minutes, anything you add to your subscription, which we have a monitoring sensor for, will automatically show up on your infrastructure map in Instana and provide you with performance and health information about every component.

Performance Monitoring for Azure Services

At the time of writing this we are about to release monitoring sensors for App Services, Azure Redis, and CosmosDB. All of these services are remotely monitored with the simple configuration-approach described above.

Figure 1: Infrastructure map showing monitored services within Azure

Azure App Services have gone through quite some changes recently, which makes them even more interesting to Azure subscribers.

Not only are App Services allowed to use the .NET Core Framework now, you can also deploy them on Linux-based containers if you want – so now you are not limited to using software isolated IIS instances on Windows hosts anymore.

Figure 2: Azure AppService infrastructure dashboard.

Having Redis as a reliable caching component in cloud deployments is a common scenario and many of our customers use it. So, it is only logical to monitor these caches too. Except for not being bound to a physical host and a lower resolution of metrics, the experience of monitoring Azure Redis or your own Redis deployment somewhere else will be no different for Instana users.

The third service is CosmosDB, the globally distributed, multi-paradigm database which is a unique offering on Azure. Seeing more and more projects adopt this new service, the ability to have insight into what happens with it while applications access it is crucial.

These new additions to the Instana Azure Monitoring lineup complement our existing monitoring of AKS and Service Fabric clusters.

Figure 3: AKS nodes on the Instana infrastructure map.

Both AKS and Service Fabric monitoring make use of a full agent installation and thus not only support infrastructure monitoring, but also full distributed tracing. All you need to do is to install the agent using helm on AKS or the agent setup on Service Fabric and see your boxes appear on the infrastructure map.

Monitoring AKS works just like monitoring any other Kubernetes based environment. Instana will receive Kubernetes related data from the agents running in a Daemon-set and conveniently display it.  

Figure 4: Host dashboard for AKS Kubernetes node.

We’re at Microsoft Ignite this week at booth #448. If you’d like to see our monitoring technology in person be sure to stop by and don’t forget to pick up a squeezy Stan 🙂

But wait, there’s more (to come). There are many Azure services that our customers have requested and we plan to support in the very near future. Load-Balancers, Databases, Storage Accounts, API-Management, HDInsight… you name it (and please, if you want to reach out to us and discuss our roadmap: do so!)

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Instana, an IBM company, provides an Enterprise Observability Platform with automated application monitoring capabilities to businesses operating complex, modern, cloud-native applications no matter where they reside – on-premises or in public and private clouds, including mobile devices or IBM Z.

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