Why monitor Windows Azure with System Center?

One of the questions that I often get into when talking with folks normally have a dev head on around Windows Azure is why you’d want to be able to monitor a Windows Azure application with System Center and why you wouldn’t just build a bespoke monitoring solution since you’re building an application already.  The answer is actually a very obvious one to integrate with existing systems.  Anyone with an ounce of IT operational background or ITIL training will tell you that you rightly need to centralise monitoring and ultimately to simplify it.  The first obvious reason why you’d do that is to save money but there’s a second reason:

That amazing application probably isn’t running in isolation.

You’ll find that it requires other components like network connectivity (yes even in the cloud) to be in place and available – particularly if you’re running in a hybrid environment.  A holistic management solution, such as System Center will help you to achieve an overall view of what’s going on, of all the dependencies on various components of the system.

Interestingly we’ve just moved such a system to Windows Azure, along with the required monitoring and documented the whole process with a case study of moving a Business Critical application to Windows Azure.  The article is well worth a read for anyone thinking about moving an application to the cloud but the following stuck out for me as benefits:

  • Accurate and timely monitoring and alerting for [application] critical components
  • A large number of reusable monitoring components that can be leveraged in future Windows Azure applications

Accuracy and timeliness are so important in IT Operations it’s untrue but that second benefit around reusability is also so important.  Not only will you have developed a reusable system monitoring Windows Azure applications but you’ll also have reusable skills.

How do you get started?  Well you could just download this little package of 2 ready made evaluation VHDs and play with a pre-built Windows Azure application, I have and it really doesn’t take long to get to grips with.