Microsoft is making it easier for businesses that rely on its Azure Cloud for their IT services and applications to get clear-cut answers when problems occur.
Given the sheer size of Microsoft's cloud ecosystem, staying on top of each service and its status can be a challenge. With the new Service Health feature in the Azure Portal management hub, Microsoft is now offering customers status updates that are tailored to their cloud subscriptions.
Earlier this year, Amazon and its cloud customers learned a lesson in providing correct information on the condition of its AWS (Amazon Web Services) offerings.
On Feb. 28, the company's S3 storage service running in its northern Virginia data center was knocked offline for several hours, taking with it a who's-who of popular websites and services. Affected services included Citrix, Docker, GitHub, Mailchimp and Slack, among many others.
Compounding the problem was an obvious disconnect between the observable conditions created by the S3 outage and the operational status reported by the AWS dashboard. Users looking for answers were greeted by a status page reporting that everything was operating normally.
Rather than pore over the Microsoft Azure status support page in an attempt to pinpoint problems affecting their cloud services, the company's customers can now consult the new Service Health dashboard to see which issues specifically affect them. Administrators can use the interface to prepare for scheduled maintenance and heed its downtime-reducing recommendations.
Within the new dashboard, a global map indicates which Azure cloud data center regions are affected by a particular issue. In addition to a summary detailing the problem, its impact and current status, the tool also allows users to download the summary as a PDF file, which can then be shared with IT personnel or others who don't have access to the Azure Portal.
A guide on using Azure Service Health, including a video walk-through, is available in this blog post.
For customers seeking more detailed information on how users are interacting with their cloud-delivered applications, Microsoft recently added a handful of new features to Azure Application Insights. They include new user and session timeline views that provides a new, potentially more insightful perspective of individual user behavior.
"This timeline makes it easy to browse the details, page views and custom events of a session like a story," explained Rahul Bagaria, senior product manager of Application Insights and HockeyApp at Microsoft, in a blog post. "By stepping through a user's experience in this way, you can infer difficulties or goals they may have had while using your product, then address these in a future release of your site."
The new Workbooks feature allows users to create interactive documents based on Application Insights' usage data visualizations, analytics queries and text-based content, stated Bagaria. Also new is a Funnels feature that illustrates how users interact with applications, an improved performance investigation experience and new controls that enable users to manage the deployment of preview features on the service.