What is our primary use case?
As a Microsoft MVP and MCT, I help our company's clients use Azure Monitor in different ways depending on what types of activity they want to monitor. From a big picture perspective, this entails checking and testing both the performance and efficiency of cloud-based applications.
Starting from the basics, such as when monitoring VMs, you are able to integrate Azure Monitor with the virtual machine so as to create alerts and notifications that are automatically triggered when, for example, the machine's performance rises above 60-70%.
You can also use Azure Monitor to help you understand the total internal activity, including the CPU or RAM performance, of specific applications on the cloud. And beyond that, there are many other metrics detailing which users have logged in (or are concurrently logged in) to the application or VM, while showing the ratios of their activity in total.
What is most valuable?
For me, the best feature is the log analysis with Azure Monitor's Log Analytics. Without being able to analyze the logs of all the activities that affect the performance of a machine, your monitoring effectiveness will be severely limited.
What needs improvement?
Although it's not always the case, the price can sometimes get expensive. This depends on a number of factors, such as how many services you are trying to integrate with Azure Monitor and how much storage they're consuming each month (for example, how large are the log files?).
Of course, this totally depends on the particular customer's environment. As the implementer, we can typically only advise on the technical outcomes for a certain usage scenario of Azure Monitor, and not necessarily the advantages or disadvantages of paying for Azure Monitor in their particular use case. For example, if they are paying $400 per month, the advantages for the customer might be that they reduce technical headaches in ensuring proper service performance without having to invest in a separate IT member to handle the monitoring. And for many customers, this makes good business sense, which is why when we propose the use of Azure Monitor in such a way and give them an example, they often take us up on the proposal, despite the costs involved.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Azure Monitor for five years.
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What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Azure Monitor is definitely a stable product once we have deployed it to our target. Azure Monitor, when deployed to a VM, will give you a stable interface for taking readings on various aspects of a machine's performance, such as what's going on with the CPU, memory, and data communications.
When it comes to more advanced usage with deeper monitoring, Azure Monitor can integrate with AI to make the process of advising what to do about resolving certain problems much easier.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Azure Monitor is a key part of service integration and it is easy to scale and extend as needed. You can also integrate other services, even third-party ones, with it.
It provides options for scaling it to your own needs in various ways, such as by providing a choice of what types of logs will be generated and how many days you would like to keep the logs for. It also provides options for how many servers you would like to monitor, and whether you will be logging on an hourly, per-minute, or per-second basis.
How are customer service and support?
I am largely satisfied with how the technical support from Microsoft explains their solutions to the issues that we've raised. Although, most of the time, they simply share the most current link from their blog of knowledge base that explains the specific activity that must be done to resolve a problem. This is because Microsoft engineers don't actually provide the technical work themselves, but instead act as advisors, where companies like mine will then be the implementer of the suggested solutions.
How was the initial setup?
The setup for Azure Monitor itself is easy to understand and, for generating logs and such, it's a simple process of configuring how you would like to gather your logs and for how long you would like to keep those records, etc.
It won't take anyone that much time to deploy their monitoring system with Azure Monitor. This is especially true if you understand your business needs well, because you can then quickly integrate Azure Monitor (and Log Analytics or Workbooks) inside your application as appropriate. As an estimate, it could take up to three or four hours at most.
What about the implementation team?
We implement Azure Monitor in-house. Our deployment plan is to first obtain the Azure identity and then make an effort to better understand the service that will be running on the Azure cloud. For example, is it IaaS or PaaS? If it is based on PaaS, then we'll go straight to the application inside the PaaS, and if it's on a VM, then we'll go to the VM (or container) instance and set up the deployment from there. Here, the deployment also depends on the specific resources or Azure subscriptions in use.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Customers of Azure Monitor must pay an amount that depends largely on how many services they need to integrate and the storage space required in terms of logs, etc. If they only have a few small services to monitor, the price won't be too high, but on the opposite side of the spectrum, it can certainly get pricey.
Fortunately, customers can use the calculator provided by Azure to easily estimate the total monthly costs based on the customer's requirements.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Along with Azure, I also have experience with New Relic, for which I have handled both deployment and connectivity.
What other advice do I have?
I can definitely recommend Azure Monitor for most people, but before recommending it to all I would caution that whether you choose to use it depends largely on the type of service that you are running on the cloud.
One must first be clear about the outcomes of the service that is to be monitored; if it is a critical service or application where you absolutely must monitor each data point or watch for incidents, then you will certainly want to use Azure Monitor.
On the other hand, some companies are running services on the cloud that are not actually critical in the grand scheme of their operations, and to these companies I would not blindly encourage using Azure Monitor. Of course, if they are interested nevertheless, then I would say, sure, they can go forward with it as long as they understand that they will have to pay Microsoft accordingly in order to get something out of Azure Monitor.
I would rate Azure Monitor an eight out of ten.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Implementer