Azure IoT Edge Watchdog

This repo introduces the Azure IoT Edge Watchdog pattern which is split into (1) edge and (2) cloud code joined together by a (3) common message structure. This pattern demonstrates a roundtrip verification of a heartbeat message sent from an IoT Edge device to an Azure cloud function. If the edge device does not receive an acknowledgement of its message, or if the message is out of the accepted time boundary, the watchdog code will, by default, expand the window of time in which it accepts an acknowledgement. Within the Edge code, there is a stubbed method for what additional behavior should happen if the Edge device does not receive an acknowledgement.


File/folder Description
Edge Contains Azure IoT Edge Watchdog module which sends Heartbeat message
Cloud Contains the Azure Function code which responds to Heartbeat message
SharedCode Contains Protobuf definition for Heartbeat message
.gitignore Define what to ignore at commit time. Microsoft Open Source Code of Conduct and FAQ
CONTRIBUTING.MD Guidelines for contributing to the Sample on Github Template for submitting issues on GitHub
LICENSE The license for the sample This README file Instructions for filing security issues directly with Microsoft

The Edge Watchdog provides a solution for monitoring and responding to network partitions in IoT systems that leverage an Azure IoT Edge gateway. This project has 3 primary components:

  • Edge/SimulatedDevice/Module: Deploy this module on an Azure IoT Edge device and it will send messages to the corresponding IoT Hub and listen for a ACK. If the IoT Hub fails to respond in a user-defined window, the module will enter a state where it consideres itself disconnected. The next time the module sends a message and receives a response in time, the device will move back into online mode. This functionality can be leveraged to have the edge application(s) dynamically adapt to offline operation. This component includes an example Azure DevOps build.yaml file that can be leveraged for build and release pipelines.

  • Cloud/IoTHubListener: This is an Event Hub triggered Azure Function, where the source Event Hub corresponds to an Event Hub compatible endpoint for an IoT Hub. Deploy this function to Azure and it will pick up the messages from the Azure IoT Edge Module as they enter the IoT Hub, log them, process them, and respond (ACK) to the device. This component includes an example Azure DevOps build.yaml file that can be leveraged for build and release pipelines.

  • SharedCode/Heartbeat/Message: Shared object model (protobuf) between cloud and edge, to ease serialization across applications. This project can be modified to produce a Nuget package that can be consumed as a package reference, rather than as a linked/dependent project.


The deployment.debug.template.json and deployment.template.json are currently setup to build and push with Visual Studio Code tooling.

To build and push the Watchdog solution using Visual Studio, you will need to modify the deployment files to reference the module image in the way the project structure is defined in Visual Studio.

            "settings": {
              "image": "${MODULEDIR<./modules/Watchdog>}",


  1. Language SDK
  1. Docker

Docker Community Edition - required for Azure IoT Edge module development, deployment and debugging. Docker CE is free, but may require registration with Docker account to download. Docker on Windows requires Hyper-V support. Please make sure your Windows version supports Hyper-V. For Windows 10, Hyper-V is available with the Pro or Enterprise versions.

  1. Azure Resources

To run this project, you will need the following Azure resources:

  1. IDE and extensions
  • Visual Studio Code

    Note: Extensions can be installed either via links to the Visual Studio Code Marketplace below or by searching extensions by name in the Marketplace from the Extensions tab in Visual Studio Code.

    Install Visual Studio Code first and then add the following extensions:

    • C# extension (only required for C# version of sample) - provides C# syntax checking, build and debug support
    • Azure IoT Tools - provides Azure IoT Edge development tooling

    Note: Azure IoT Tools is an extension pack that installs 3 extensions that will show up in the Extensions pane in Visual Studio Code - Azure IoT Hub Toolkit, Azure IoT Edge and Azure IoT Workbench.

  • Visual Studio

    Note: Extensions can be installed either via links to the Visual Studio Marketplace below or by searching for the extension by name from the Extensions menu in Visual Studio.

  1. Azure IoT EdgeHub Dev Tool

Azure IoT EdgeHub Dev Tool is a version of the Azure IoT Edge runtime for local development machine. After verifying Python and Pip (2.7/3.6 or above) are installed and in the path, install iotedgehubdev with Pip: bash pip install --upgrade iotedgehubdev

  1. Azure Functions Core Tools

Azure Functions Core Tools is a version of the Azure Functions runtime for local development machine. It also provides commands to create functions, connect to Azure, and deploy Azure Function projects. After verifying Node.js (8.5 or above) is installed and in the path, install azure-functions-core-tools with npm:

npm install -g azure-functions-core-tools
  1. Azure Storage Emulator (optional, Windows only)

AzureStorageEmulator provides a local environment that emulates the AzureBlob, Queue, and Table services for development purposes. Use the link for thestandalone installer.

Azure Blob Storage is required for the Azure Functions runtime for internalstate management. The Azure Function in this sample also writes decompressedmessages to an Azure Storage account.

When running this sample locally on Windows, the Azure Storage Emulator can be used instead of creating an Azure Storage account. The emulator will not work with WSL or Linux and a real storage account will be needed.

Azure IoT Edge Module (Simulated Edge Device)

In the provided env file (remove the .temp extension) there are many configurable variables. At a minimum, you will need to fill in the container registry settings. If you are using localhost are your registry, then you can leave username and password blank.

This Watchdog module also has configurable variables set in the Dockerfile. The default value embedded in the code is in parantheses () below.

  • START_WINDOW_IN_SECONDS (1): if the device sends a message to IoT Hub and receives a message before START_WINDOW_IN_SECONDS seconds, it will consider itself in error. Set this field to "0" to ignore.
  • END_WINDOW_IN_SECONDS (5): if the device sends a message to IoT Hub and does not receive a response within END_WINDOW_IN_SECONDS seconds, it will consider itself offline.
  • HEARTBEAT_FREQUENCY_IN_SECONDS (10): the device will send messages every HEARTBEAT_FREQUENCY_IN_SECONDS seconds.

Iot Hub Listener

The IoT Hub Listener is an Azure Function designed to be intermediate plumbing between an Azure IoT Hub and a time-series database, such as Azure Time Series Insights (see this article for details). The Azure Function requires an input Event Hub, such as IoT Hub's Event Hub compatible end point, and an output Event Hub to push data to. The output Event Hub can be mapped to TSI for persistence of watchdog messages.

An optional consumer group may be added to the output Event Hub where messages are consumed by a streaming analytics service, such as Azure Stream Analytics. The stream analytics service can provide alerts/alarms/notifications over a tumbling window, for a specific IoT Hub Device ID, to alert when a device has not sent a ping within a set period. These empty tumbling window alerts can then allow the cloud-side solution to generate dashboard alerts, or adjust solution behavior, such as preventing device deployments if the network connect appears unstable.

Environment settings and use/development

There are four settings to configure for the IoT HuB listener. These are in the local.settings.json.temp file. After changing the settings, remove the .temp extension.

First set the IoT Hub Connection string, then the IoT Hub Event Hub Endpoint Connection String. This second string is what triggers the IoT Hub Listener and where it pulls the message data from. The Event Hub Endpoint is where the processed data gets sent and which enables Azure Time Series Insight or another service to access the processed message. Finally, AzureWebJobsStorage is a required backing store for Azure Functions. This can be a local Azure Storage Emulator with the setting UseDevelopmentStorage=true.

IoTHubEventHubEndpointConnectionString IoTHubConnectionString EventHubEndpointConnectionString AzureWebJobsStorage


The heartbeat message is protocol buffer. Simply define it in the .proto file and include the csproj file. The underlying C# will be generated for you.