Azure Monitor best practices - Analyze and visualize data

This article is part of the scenario Recommendations for configuring Azure Monitor. It describes builtin features in Azure Monitor for analyzing collected data and options for creating custom visualizations to meet the requirements of different users in your organization. Visualizations such as charts and graphs can help you analyze your monitoring data to drill down on issues and identify patterns.

Builtin analysis features

The following sections describe Azure Monitor features that provide analysis of collected data without any configuration.

Overview page

Most Azure services will have an Overview page in the Azure portal that includes a Monitor section with charts showing recent charts for critical metrics. This is intended for owners of individual services to quickly assess the performance of the resource. Since this page is based on platform metrics that are collected automatically, there's no configuration required for this feature.

Metrics explorer

Metrics explorer allows users to interactively work with metric data and create metric alerts. Most users will be able to use metrics explorer with minimal training but must be familiar with the metrics they want to analyze. There's no configuration required for this feature once data collection has been configured. Platform metrics for Azure resources will automatically be available. Guest metrics for virtual machines will be available when Azure Monitor agent has been deployed to them, and application metrics will be available when Application Insights has been configured.

Log Analytics

Log Analytics allows users to create log queries to interactively work with log data and create log query alerts. There is some training required for users to become familiar with the query language, although they can use prebuilt queries for common requirements. You can also add query packs with queries that are unique to your organization. This allows users who are familiar with the query language to build queries for others in the organization.

Workbooks

Workbooks are the visualization platform of choice for Azure providing a flexible canvas for data analysis and creation of rich visual reports. Workbooks enable you to tap into multiple data sources from across Azure and combine them into unified interactive experiences. They are especially useful to prepare E2E monitoring views across multiple Azure resources.

Insights use prebuilt workbooks to present users with critical health and performance information for a particular service. You can access a gallery of additional workbooks in the Workbooks tab of the Azure Monitor menu and create custom workbooks to meet requirements of your different users.

Diagram that shows screenshots of three pages from a workbook, including Analysis of Page Views, Usage, and Time Spent on Page.

Common scenarios for workbooks include the following:

  • Create an interactive report with parameters where selecting an element in a table will dynamically update associated charts and visualizations.
  • Share a report with other users in your organization.
  • Collaborate with other workbook authors in your organization using a public GitHub-based template gallery.

Azure Dashboards

Azure dashboards are useful in providing a single pane of glass over your Azure infrastructure and services. While a workbook provides richer functionality, a dashboard can combine Azure Monitor data with data from other Azure services.

Screenshot that shows an example of an Azure dashboard with customizable information.

Here's a video walkthrough on creating dashboards:

Common scenarios for dashboards include the following:

  • Create a dashboard combining a metrics graph and the results of a log query with operational data for related services.
  • Share a dashboard with service owners through integration with Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC).

See Create and share dashboards of Log Analytics data for details on creating a dashboard that includes data from Azure Monitor Logs. See Create custom KPI dashboards using Azure Application Insights for details on creating a dashboard that includes data from Application Insights.

Power BI

Power BI is useful for creating business-centric dashboards and reports, along with reports that analyze long-term KPI trends. You can import the results of a log query into a Power BI dataset and then take advantage of its features, such as combining data from different sources and sharing reports on the web and mobile devices.

Screenshot that shows an example Power B I report for I T operations.

Common scenarios for Power BI include the following:

  • Rich visualizations.
  • Extensive interactivity, including zoom-in and cross-filtering.
  • Ease of sharing throughout your organization.
  • Integration with other data from multiple data sources.
  • Better performance with results cached in a cube.

Grafana

Grafana is an open platform that excels in operational dashboards. It's useful for detecting, isolating, and triaging operational incidents, combining visualizations of Azure and non-Azure data sources including on-premises, third party tools, and data stores in other clouds. Grafana has popular plugins and dashboard templates for APM tools such as Dynatrace, New Relic, and App Dynamics which enables users to visualize Azure platform data alongside other metrics from higher in the stack collected by other tools. It also has AWS CloudWatch and GCP BigQuery plugins for multi-cloud monitoring in a single pane of glass.

You can add the Azure Monitor data source plug-in for Grafana to your Azure subscription to have it visualize your Azure metric data.

Screenshot that shows Grafana visualizations.

Common scenarios for Grafana include the following:

  • Combine time-series and event data in a single visualization panel.
  • Create a dynamic dashboard based on user selection of dynamic variables.
  • Create a dashboard from a community created and supported template.
  • Create a vendor agnostic BCDR scenario that runs on any cloud provider or on-premises.

Azure Monitor partners

Some Azure Monitor partners provide visualization functionality. For a list of partners that Microsoft has evaluated, see Azure Monitor partner integrations. An Azure Monitor partner might provide out-of-the-box visualizations to save you time, although these solutions may have an additional cost.

Custom application

You can then build your own custom websites and applications using metric and log data in Azure Monitor accessed through a REST API. This gives you complete flexibility in UI, visualization, interactivity, and features.

Next steps