Runbook execution in Azure Automation

When you start a runbook in Azure Automation, a job is created. A job is a single execution instance of a runbook. An Azure Automation worker is assigned to run each job. While workers are shared by many Azure accounts, jobs from different Automation accounts are isolated from one another. You don't have control over which worker services the request for your job. A single runbook can have many jobs running at one time. The execution environment for jobs from the same Automation Account may be reused. When you view the list of runbooks in the Azure portal, it lists the status of all jobs that were started for each runbook. You can view the list of jobs for each runbook to track the status of each. For a description of the different job statuses Job Statuses.


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The following diagram shows the lifecycle of a runbook job for Graphical runbooks and PowerShell Workflow runbooks.

Job Statuses - PowerShell Workflow

The following diagram shows the lifecycle of a runbook job for PowerShell runbooks.

Job Statuses - PowerShell Script

Your jobs have access to your Azure resources by making a connection to your Azure subscription. They only have access to resources in your data center if those resources are accessible from the public cloud.

Job statuses

The following table describes the different statuses that are possible for a job. PowerShell has two types of errors, terminating and non-terminating errors. Terminating errors set the runbook status to Failed if they occur. Non-terminating errors allow the script to continue even after they occur. An example of a non-terminating error is using the Get-ChildItem cmdlet with a path that doesn't exist. PowerShell sees that the path doesn't exist, throws an error, and continues to the next folder. This error wouldn't set the runbook status to Failed and could be marked as Completed. To force a runbook to stop on a non-terminating error, you can use -ErrorAction Stop on the cmdlet.

Status Description
Completed The job completed successfully.
Failed For Graphical and PowerShell Workflow runbooks, the runbook failed to compile. For PowerShell Script runbooks, the runbook failed to start or the job had an exception.
Failed, waiting for resources The job failed because it reached the fair share limit three times and started from the same checkpoint or from the start of the runbook each time.
Queued The job is waiting for resources on an Automation worker to come available so that it can be started.
Starting The job has been assigned to a worker, and the system is starting it.
Resuming The system is resuming the job after it was suspended.
Running The job is running.
Running, waiting for resources The job has been unloaded because it reached the fair share limit. It resumes shortly from its last checkpoint.
Stopped The job was stopped by the user before it was completed.
Stopping The system is stopping the job.
Suspended The job was suspended by the user, by the system, or by a command in the runbook. If a runbook doesn't have a checkpoint, it starts from the beginning of the runbook. If it has a checkpoint, it can start again and resume from its last checkpoint. The runbook is only be suspended by the system when an exception occurs. By default, ErrorActionPreference is set to Continue, meaning that the job keeps running on an error. If this preference variable is set to Stop, then the job suspends on an error. Applies to Graphical and PowerShell Workflow runbooks only.
Suspending The system is trying to suspend the job at the request of the user. The runbook must reach its next checkpoint before it can be suspended. If it already passed its last checkpoint, then it completes before it can be suspended. Applies to Graphical and PowerShell Workflow runbooks only.

Viewing job status from the Azure portal

You can view a summarized status of all runbook jobs or drill into details of a specific runbook job in the Azure portal. You can also configuring integration with your Log Analytics workspace to forward runbook job status and job streams. For more information about integrating with Log Analytics, see Forward job status and job streams from Automation to Log Analytics.

Automation runbook jobs summary

On the right of your selected Automation account, you can see a summary of all of the runbook jobs under Job Statistics tile.

Job Statistics tile

This tile displays a count and graphical representation of the job status for all jobs executed.

Clicking on the tile presents the Jobs page, which includes a summarized list of all jobs executed. This page shows the status, start times, and completion times.

Automation account Jobs page

You can filter the list of jobs by selecting Filter jobs and filter on a specific runbook, job status, or from the drop-down list, and the time range to search within.

Filter Job status

Alternatively, you can view job summary details for a specific runbook by selecting that runbook from the Runbooks page in your Automation account, and then select the Jobs tile. This action presents the Jobs page, and from there you can click on the job record to view its detail and output.

Automation account Jobs page

Job Summary

You can view a list of all of the jobs that have been created for a particular runbook and their most recent status. You can filter this list by job status and the range of dates for the last change to the job. To view its detailed information and output, click on the name of a job. The detailed view of the job includes the values for the runbook parameters that were provided to that job.

You can use the following steps to view the jobs for a runbook.

  1. In the Azure portal, select Automation and then select the name of an Automation account.
  2. From the hub, select Runbooks and then on the Runbooks page select a runbook from the list.
  3. On the page for the selected runbook, click the Jobs tile.
  4. Click on one of the jobs in the list and on the runbook job details page you can view its detail and output.

Retrieving job status using Windows PowerShell

You can use the Get-AzureRmAutomationJob to retrieve the jobs created for a runbook and the details of a particular job. If you start a runbook with Windows PowerShell using Start-AzureRmAutomationRunbook, then it returns the resulting job. Use Get-AzureRmAutomationJobOutput to get a job’s output.

The following sample commands retrieve the last job for a sample runbook and display its status, the values provided for the runbook parameters, and the output from the job.

$job = (Get-AzureRmAutomationJob –AutomationAccountName "MyAutomationAccount" `
–RunbookName "Test-Runbook" -ResourceGroupName "ResourceGroup01" | sort LastModifiedDate –desc)[0]
Get-AzureRmAutomationJobOutput -ResourceGroupName "ResourceGroup01" `
–AutomationAccountName "MyAutomationAcct" -Id $job.JobId –Stream Output

The following sample retrieves the output for a specific job, and returns each record. In the case that there was an exception for one of the records, the exception is written out instead of the value. This behavior is useful as exceptions can provide additional information, which may not be logged normally during output.

$output = Get-AzureRmAutomationJobOutput -AutomationAccountName <AutomationAccountName> -Id <jobID> -ResourceGroupName <ResourceGroupName> -Stream "Any"
foreach($item in $output)
    $fullRecord = Get-AzureRmAutomationJobOutputRecord -AutomationAccountName <AutomationAccountName> -ResourceGroupName <ResourceGroupName> -JobId <jobID> -Id $item.StreamRecordId
    if ($fullRecord.Type -eq "Error")

Get details from Activity log

Other details such as the person or account that started the runbook can be retrieved from the Activity log for the automation account. The following PowerShell example provides the last user to run the runbook in question:

$SubID = "00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000"
$rg = "ResourceGroup01"
$AutomationAccount = "MyAutomationAccount"
$RunbookName = "Test-Runbook"
$JobResourceID = "/subscriptions/$subid/resourcegroups/$rg/providers/Microsoft.Automation/automationAccounts/$AutomationAccount/jobs"

Get-AzureRmLog -ResourceId $JobResourceID -MaxRecord 1 | Select Caller

Fair share

In order to share resources among all runbooks in the cloud, Azure Automation will temporarily unload or stop any job that has been running for more than three hours. Jobs for PowerShell-based runbooks and Python runbooks are stopped and not restarted, and the job status shows Stopped.

For long running tasks, it is recommended to use a Hybrid Runbook Worker. Hybrid Runbook Workers are not limited by fair share, and don't have a limitation on how long a runbook can execute. The other job limits apply to both Azure sandboxes and Hybrid Runbook Workers. While Hybrid Runbook Workers are not limited by the 3 hour fair share limit, runbooks ran on them should still be developed to support restart behaviors from unexpected local infrastructure issues.

Another option is to optimize the runbook by using child runbooks. If your runbook loops through the same function on a number of resources, such as a database operation on several databases, you can move that function to a child runbook and call it with the Start-AzureRMAutomationRunbook cmdlet. Each of these child runbooks executes in parallel in separate processes decreasing the total amount of time for the parent runbook to complete. You can use the Get-AzureRmAutomationJob cmdlet in your runbook to check the job status for each child if there are operations that need to be performed after the child runbook completes.

Next steps