Review: Using Site24x7 for Microsoft Azure monitoring

Product: Site24x7

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Last year, I reviewed Zoho’s Site24x7. In that review, I focused most of my attention on monitoring on-premises resources and resources within the Amazon AWS cloud. However, the service also supports Microsoft Azure and is capable of monitoring more than 100 Azure services. That being the case, I wanted to revisit Site24x7 to check out how well it works with the Microsoft cloud.

Connecting Site24x7 to Azure

Upon logging into the Site24x7 portal, I clicked on the Azure button within the Multi-Cloud Environment section. Upon doing so, I was prompted to select the Azure account that I wanted to use. What I found is that while the standard login process presumably works fine for a typical Azure account, I was unable to connect in the normal way.

The reason why this happened, is because my account started out as an Office 365 / Azure AD account, and then I later added a normal Microsoft Azure subscription. As such, there are two different Azure subscriptions tied to my account. When I would try to connect Site24x7 to Azure in the usual way, the software tried (unsuccessfully) to connect to my Office 365 Azure AD account rather than my Azure account.

I reached out to Site24x7’s technical support, and the company promptly provided me with a solution. The solution to my problem was to authenticate using a custom app. The screen capture below shows what is involved in the process. While authenticating with a custom app is admittedly a more tedious process than performing a normal authentication, it’s something that only has to be done once.

Site24x7
This is what it takes to authenticate using a custom app

Once I was finally connected, the only thing left to do was to begin discovering the Azure resources. Site24x7 walked me through the process, as shown in the figure below.

Site24x7
Screen used to configure the discovery of Azure resources

This brings up an important point. Site24x7 automatically discovers Azure resources, as shown below. There is no need to manually add the organization’s Azure resources into the Site24x7 console.

Site24x7
Azure resources are automatically discovered

As you look at the figure above, you will notice that there is a block of text indicating that there are some things that you can do to gain even more visibility into the Azure environment. The first item on the list indicates that you can get Windows and Linux VM extensions from the Azure marketplace. You also have the option of installing these extensions in bulk through the console’s Management Actions section, as shown in the figure below.

You can install monitoring agents for your VMs in bulk

Another thing that Site24x7 provides for Azure is group policy template integration. As you can see in the next figure, Site24x7 automatically generates a JSON snippet that you can paste into the health check portion of your ADM files. This allows health checks to be performed on resources during the deployment process.

Site24x7 provides code that you can integrate with your ADM files

Accessing health information for Azure resources couldn’t be easier. Clicking on the Infrastructure Dashboard link takes you to a status screen like the one shown below. This screen allows you to see the number of resources that are up, down, or still being discovered.

Site24x7
Infrastructure Dashboard gives a nice overview of your Azure resources

There are similar dashboards for your Azure inventory, as shown in the screenshot below, and for management actions.

Azure Inventory Dashboard

If you need more detailed information, there are dashboards that are dedicated to specific types of resources. The screenshot below, for example, shows the dashboard for Azure virtual machines. Here you can see the status of each Azure VM.

Site24x7
This dashboard shows the status of Azure virtual machines

If you need more detailed information, you can click on an individual VM from within the list (dashboards for other types of Azure resources work similarly). This opens an interface that you can use to track the VM’s performance, as well as any outages that have occurred. You can also see virtual machine configuration details, some inventory information for the VM, and a virtual machine-specific log report. Incidentally, you can download the log in CSV format.

The figure below shows the types of information that are provided for the VM. If you look at the size of the browser’s scrollbar, you can get a feel for how much more information this screen provides beyond what I can fit into a screen capture. The thing that really impressed me though, was that Site24x7 managed to capture all of this information without me even installing the virtual machine monitoring agent.

Site24x7
Some of the information you can view for the Azure VMs that you are monitoring

Another thing that I liked about Site24x7 was its built-in Advisor. Clicking on the Advisor tab takes you to a screen that not only provides a list of things that you can do to make your life easier, it also provides links that you can use to initiate the action. For example, you can use the Advisor to set up automatic incident remediation for your monitored resources. A few of the other things that you can do through the Advisor include configuring SMS text message alerts, Adding users to your 24×7 account, or creating custom dashboards.

One last thing that I want to mention is that although I am focusing this review solely on Site24x7’s ability to monitor Microsoft Azure, the service can monitor a wide variety of platforms and applications. For example, Site24x7 can be used to monitor both Azure and Amazon AWS. Likewise, it can monitor Microsoft applications such as IIS, SQL, Exchange, Hyper-V, and more, but it can also monitor non-Microsoft applications such as MongoDB and Apache. In fact, Site24x7 generously supports 50+ plugin integrations in total.

The reason why I am mentioning this is because Site24x7 features a log management service called AppLogs. AppLogs acts as a single dashboard management log view for all of your monitored services. Hence, you can monitor Azure services alongside monitored resources residing on-premises or in competing clouds.

The verdict

When I write a review for this site, it has become customary for me to end the review by assigning the product a star rating. These ratings range from zero to five stars, with five stars being the highest possible score. I decided to give Site24x7 a score of 4.7. This is a gold star score. Although this score is slightly lower than the score that I gave Site24x7 in my previous review, I am basing this score solely on Site24x7’s ability to interact with Microsoft Azure.

Overall, I found that Site24x7 works really well with Microsoft Azure. As stated earlier, I did have some difficulties with initially connecting Site24x7 to my Microsoft Azure account, but once I got the connectivity working monitoring my Azure resources was a breeze. I would even go so far as to say that Site24x7 makes the monitoring process nearly effortless.

Rating 4.7/5

 

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