Tutorial: Monitor network communication between two virtual machines using the Azure portal

Successful communication between a virtual machine (VM) and an endpoint such as another VM, can be critical for your organization. Sometimes, configuration changes are introduced which can break communication. In this tutorial, you learn how to:

  • Create two VMs
  • Monitor communication between VMs with the connection monitor capability of Network Watcher
  • Generate alerts on Connection Monitor metrics
  • Diagnose a communication problem between two VMs, and learn how you can resolve it

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

Sign in to Azure

Sign in to the Azure portal.

Create VMs

Create two VMs.

Create the first VM

  1. Select + Create a resource found on the upper, left corner of the Azure portal.
  2. Select Compute, and then select an operating system. In this tutorial, Windows Server 2016 Datacenter is used.
  3. Enter, or select, the following information, accept the defaults for the remaining settings, and then select OK:

    Setting Value
    Name myVm1
    User name Enter a user name of your choosing.
    Password Enter a password of your choosing. The password must be at least 12 characters long and meet the defined complexity requirements.
    Subscription Select your subscription.
    Resource group Select Create new and enter myResourceGroup.
    Location Select East US
  4. Select a size for the VM and then select Select.

  5. Under Settings, select Extensions. Select Add extension, and select Network Watcher Agent for Windows, as shown in the following picture:

    Network Watcher agent extension

  6. Under Network Watcher Agent for Windows, select Create, under Install extension select OK, and then under Extensions, select OK.

  7. Accept the defaults for the remaining Settings and select OK.
  8. Under Create of the Summary, select Create to start VM deployment.

Create the second VM

Complete the steps in Create the first VM again, with the following changes:

Step Setting Value
1 Select Ubuntu Server 17.10 VM
3 Name myVm2
3 Authentication type Paste your SSH public key or select Password, and enter a password.
3 Resource group Select Use existing and select myResourceGroup.
6 Extensions Network Agent for Linux

The VM takes a few minutes to deploy. Wait for the VM to finish deploying before continuing with the remaining steps.

Create a connection monitor

Create a connection monitor to monitor communication over TCP port 22 from myVm1 to myVm2.

  1. On the left side of the portal, select All services.
  2. Start typing network watcher in the Filter box. When Network Watcher appears in the search results, select it.
  3. Under MONITORING, select Connection monitor.
  4. Select + Add.
  5. Enter or select the information for the connection you want to monitor, and then select Add. In the example shown in the following picture, the connection monitored is from the myVm1 VM to the myVm2 VM over port 22:

    Setting Value
    Name myVm1-myVm2(22)
    Source
    Virtual machine myVm1
    Destination
    Select a virtual machine
    Virtual machine myVm2
    Port 22

    Add Connection Monitor

View a connection monitor

  1. Complete steps 1-3 in Create a connection monitor to view connection monitoring. You see a list of existing connection monitors, as shown in the following picture:

    Connection monitors

  2. Select the monitor with the name myVm1-myVm2(22), as shown in the previous picture, to see details for the monitor, as shown in the following picture:

    Monitor details

    Note the following information:

    Item Value Details
    Status Reachable Lets you know whether the endpoint is reachable or not.
    AVG. ROUND-TRIP Lets you know the round-trip time to make the connection, in milliseconds. Connection monitor probes the connection every 60 seconds, so you can monitor latency over time.
    Hops Connection monitor lets you know the hops between the two endpoints. In this example, the connection is between two VMs in the same virtual network, so there is only one hop, to the 10.0.0.5 IP address. If any existing system or custom routes, route traffic between the VMs through a VPN gateway, or network virtual appliance, for example, additional hops are listed.
    STATUS The green check marks for each endpoint let you know that each endpoint is healthy.

Generate alerts

Alerts are created by alert rules in Azure Monitor and can automatically run saved queries or custom log searches at regular intervals. A generated alert can automatically run one or more actions, such as to notify someone or start another process. When setting an alert rule, the resource that you target determines the list of available metrics that you can use to generate alerts.

  1. In Azure portal, select the Monitor service, and then select Alerts > New alert rule.
  2. Click Select target, and then select the resources that you want to target. Select the Subscription, and set Resource type to filter down to the Connection Monitor that you want to use.

    alert screen with target selected

  3. Once you have selected a resource to target, select Add criteria.The Network Watcher has metrics on which you can create alerts. Set Available signals to the metrics ProbesFailedPercent and AverageRoundtripMs:

    alert page with signals selected

  4. Fill out the alert details like alert rule name, description and severity. You can also add an action group to the alert to automate and customize the alert response.

View a problem

By default, Azure allows communication over all ports between VMs in the same virtual network. Over time, you, or someone in your organization, might override Azure's default rules, inadvertently causing a communication failure. Complete the following steps to create a communication problem and then view the connection monitor again:

  1. In the search box at the top of the portal, enter myResourceGroup. When the myResourceGroup resource group appears in the search results, select it.
  2. Select the myVm2-nsg network security group.
  3. Select Inbound security rules, and then select Add, as shown in the following picture:

    Inbound security rules

  4. The default rule that allows communication between all VMs in a virtual network is the rule named AllowVnetInBound. Create a rule with a higher priority (lower number) than the AllowVnetInBound rule that denies inbound communication over port 22. Select, or enter, the following information, accept the remaining defaults, and then select Add:

    Setting Value
    Destination port ranges 22
    Action Deny
    Priority 100
    Name DenySshInbound
  5. Since connection monitor probes at 60-second intervals, wait a few minutes and then on the left side of the portal, select Network Watcher, then Connection monitor, and then select the myVm1-myVm2(22) monitor again. The results are different now, as shown in the following picture:

    Monitor details fault

    You can see that there's a red exclamation icon in the status column for the myvm2529 network interface.

  6. To learn why the status has changed, select 10.0.0.5, in the previous picture. Connection monitor informs you that the reason for the communication failure is: Traffic blocked due to the following network security group rule: UserRule_DenySshInbound.

    If you didn't know that someone had implemented the security rule you created in step 4, you'd learn from connection monitor that the rule is causing the communication problem. You could then change, override, or remove the rule, to restore communication between the VMs.

Clean up resources

When no longer needed, delete the resource group and all of the resources it contains:

  1. Enter myResourceGroup in the Search box at the top of the portal. When you see myResourceGroup in the search results, select it.
  2. Select Delete resource group.
  3. Enter myResourceGroup for TYPE THE RESOURCE GROUP NAME: and select Delete.

Next steps

In this tutorial, you learned how to monitor a connection between two VMs. You learned that a network security group rule prevented communication to a VM. To learn about all of the different responses connection monitor can return, see response types. You can also monitor a connection between a VM, a fully qualified domain name, a uniform resource identifier, or an IP address.

At some point, you may find that resources in a virtual network are unable to communicate with resources in other networks connected by an Azure virtual network gateway. Advance to the next tutorial to learn how to diagnose a problem with a virtual network gateway.