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Microsoft Prepares IT Pros for New Azure Monitor Service

Microsoft this week described the steps for adapting "classic" alert rules to work with its new Azure Monitor service.

Microsoft plans to "retire" the classic alert rules on June 30, 2019, the company announced back in October. The June migration deadline is also in effect for alert rules that were created to work with Application Insights, which is part of the Operations Management Suite (OMS). Microsoft actually retired the whole OMS brand in April of last year, consolidating its components -- namely, Application Insights, Azure Automation, Azure Backup, Log Analytics and Site Recovery -- into the new Azure Monitor service. OMS is no longer available for sale to new customers.

These OMS brand retirement details may have gotten overlooked or were under publicized. They're described in this somewhat obscure "Azure Monitor Naming and Terminology Changes" document.

While the classic alerts will go away for organizations in June of this year, that situation won't be the case for users of the Azure Government service. Government users aren't affected by the classic alerts retirement, according to Microsoft's "Unified Alerting and Monitoring in Azure Monitor" document.

Organizations could see some issues when trying to use the classic alert rules in Azure Monitor after the June 2019 deadline. The classic alerts will continue to "execute and fire notifications," but IT pros won't be able to modify them, and some associated aspects, like Webhooks or Logic App links, "may not behave correctly," the "Unified Alerting" document explained.

Microsoft is promising not to charge for the migrated classic alert rules. However, there will be charges if the classic alert rules start using "the newer notification or action types (such as SMS, Voice Call, ITSM integration, etc.)," the "Unified Alerting" document added.

Automatic Migration in July
IT pros wanting to hang onto their classic alert rules and use them with the new Azure Monitor service may have to roll up their sleeves as a manual move involves carrying out multiple steps. However, maybe they can just wait. Even though Microsoft's Thursday announcement described a manual migration process, the classic alert rules will get automatically migrated by Microsoft, starting in July, according to the "Unified Alerting" document:

Starting July 2019, any alert rules in classic monitoring & alerting will be automatically migrated by Microsoft to their equivalent in the new Azure monitor platform. The process will be seamless without any downtime and customers will have no loss in monitoring coverage.

Based on that description, it sounds like IT pros will just have to test their classic alert rules after they get moved in July, or they can move and test them before the deadline.

Microsoft has been "working to provide an automated way to move existing classic alerts to the new alerts system without disruption or added costs," the "Unified Alerting" document stated. However, Microsoft's Thursday announcement didn't describe such automation. It's not clear when such support will be available.

Manual Migration Steps
To move the older alert rules to Azure Monitor, IT pros will need to first identify the classic rules that were set up, as shown in their Azure storage portal. Next, they'll need to establish an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) storage account since the classic storage account can't be used with the new Azure Monitor service. When that's done, IT pros can then use the "Migrate to ARM" option from their classic storage account to move the alert rules, according to the Thursday announcement.

Unfortunately, though, IT pros still aren't done yet. They'll next need to "recreate" their alert rules, the announcement explained. In recreating them, IT pros will have new options to consider. Microsoft's Thursday announcement suggested that IT pros "may want to understand the difference between classic metrics and new metrics and how they are mapped."

One of those differences is that Azure Blob storage isn't the only option for storing metrics data. IT pros can use "Blob, Table, File, Queue, and premium storage" for capacity and transaction metrics data storage. These details are described in Microsoft's "Azure Storage Metrics Migration" document.

After migrating the classic alert rules, and before getting rid of the old mappings, the newly created rules in Azure Monitor should be tested first.

"We recommend creating the new alert rules first, verify they work as intended, then remove the classic alerts," Microsoft's announcement indicated.

The New Azure Monitor
Azure Monitor is used to monitor the performance of applications, both housed on premises and in Azure "cloud" datacenters. It collects "metrics" and "logs" and offers dashboard views of performance data. While it possibly flew under the radar, Microsoft claims to have completed its enhancement of the new Azure Monitor service almost a year ago, according to the "Unified Alerting" document:

Since March 2018, the next generation of alerting and multi-dimensional monitoring for Azure resources have been in availability. Now the newer metric platform and alerting is faster with near-real time capabilities. More importantly, the newer metric platform alerts provide more granularity, as the newer platform includes the option of dimensions, which allow you to slice and filter to specific value combination, condition, or operation.

Exactly when things finally came together for the new Azure Monitor is kind of murky. For instance, it was back in September that Microsoft had declared that the Azure Log Analytics and Application Insights OMS components were integrated into the new Azure Monitor service.

In any case, Microsoft seems to be putting its future application monitoring tooling into Azure Monitor. In October, Microsoft declared that "Azure Monitor has now become a unified full stack monitoring service across resources."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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