Monitor Azure WebJobs Status with Application Insights

Within the Azure App Service is something called WebJobs that enables developers to run a script or program in the background within the same context as a web app, API app, or mobile app. Wejobs are included in app service with no extra cost. Webjobs are often used to run regular jobs and batch work as background services. Webjobs exist to make it easier to develop, run background tasks, and scale your web applications.

Webjobs have been around for a while and are considered a part of the serverless computing available on Azure. Today Azure Functions another newer and improved serveless technology service the evolution of WebJobs. When developers need serverless today Azure Functions is typically chosen over webjobs. There are certain cases and scenarios when webjobs are still used instead of Azure Functions and I will not be diving into that topic in this blog post. For more information on when to use what serverless technology on Azure check out the following links:

– A comparison between WebJobs and Functions: Choose between Flow, Logic Apps, Functions, and WebJobs.

– Minnesota’s Azure user group meeting from December 2017 covered comparing the various serverless technologies in Azure. It was presented by Joe Koletar. The meeting notes and PowerPoint download can be found here:

http://www.mnazureusergroup.com/2017/12/22/december-2017-meeting-serverless-computing-notes-and-download

For more information on Azure WebJobs check out these two links:

– Run Background tasks with WebJobs in Azure App Service

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/web-sites-create-web-jobs

– Develop and deploy WebJobs using Visual Studio – Azure App Service

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/app-service/websites-dotnet-deploy-webjobs

I recently needed to setup monitoring for Azure webjobs status. In this environment there was a mix of continuous webjobs along with some triggered webjobs. Monitoring WebJobs is different compared to monitoring other Azure App Services such as web apps. Web apps can easily be monitored for up/down status and performance for things like in/out traffic, usage, and errors. Background services like WebJobs does not have a defined start or end to the work they do. WebJobs either run continuously or for short amounts of time to perform a task. In this case performance was not a concern but the status of the WebJobs was needed. You can see the status of the WebJobs in the Azure portal as shown in the following screenshot.

The problem here is this is not on a monitoring dashboard, you have to navigate here to see it, you need to click the refresh button for an update, and there is no alert setup when the status is in a non-desired state.

WebJobs does come with a logs website that shows the status of all of your WebJobs and more. This logs site is shown in the following screenshot:

The logs site is nice but the issue with it is that you have to be on the site to see the status of the WebJobs along with the previously mentioned issues viewing the status in the Azure portal. A good solution for monitoring the WebJobs would be a way to check the heartbeat of the WebJobs, the status, and alert you if one of the WebJobs is in a non-desired state. The good news is that this can be accomplished utilizing Application Insights. This is not new but does take some effort to setup.  I am going to detail how to set this up. Here is a summary of what needs to be done.

  1. Need an instance of Application Insights
  2. Need an authorization header from the WebJobs REST API.
  3. Need to create a webtest manually or using Visual Studio enterprise.
  4. Create a multi-step availability test in the Application Insights instance utilizing the webtest file.
  5. Create an alert on the availability test to notify when a WebJob is in a non-desired state.
  6. Add the results of the WebJobs availability test to a dashboard in Azure.

Let’s get started.

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5th Book Published! Azure Stack Book!

The latest book project I have be a part of has completed and recently published. Back in August in this blog post (http://www.buchatech.com/2017/08/azure-stack-book-coming-soon-training) I mentioned this book was on its way. It is a book about Azure Stack that was officially published on December 21, 2017 by Pearson publishing. This book release has been very exciting as it is a part of the Unleashed series and this one marks the 5th book I have published. Here is a screenshot of all 5 from my Amazon author page:

In total I have published 2 books on System Center Data Protection Manager, 2 books on System Center Service Manager, and now this book covering Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud with Azure and Azure Stack. This book also comes at the right time as I recently made a transition to a new company (Avanade) with a new focus on Cloud (Azure/Azure Stack) and DevOps. 2018 and beyond look to be exciting times as I “Hit Refresh” on my career focus.

Books like this require a team effort. On this book I was honored to work with an expert team of authors. All of the authors are fellow Microsoft MVP’s. The other authors are: Kerrie Meyler,‎ Mark Scholman,‎ Jakob Gottlieb Svendsen,‎ Janaka Rangama. Me and the other authors are pictured below + a former Microsoft MVP Nirmal.

A part of the books team also included some members of the Azure Stack product group and Azure CAT team. We lucked out having Daniel Savage Principal PM Manager from the Azure Stack team write the foreword and Marc van Eijk Senior Program Manager from the Azure CAT team serve as our technical reviewer keeping us authors in line. 🙂

Each of us authors had so much to contribute and added much value across a variety of topics for Azure Stack. In this book I focused on bringing the readers into the cloud journey, showing the value of ITIL applied to cloud as well as the value of DevOps and then bringing ITIL and DevOps together applying them to Hybrid Cloud, took a deep dive into resource providers and management of Azure Stack through a CloudOps perspective.

Other topics covered in the book consist of preparing for Azure Stack deployments both with the development kit and integrated system, deep dive into the architecture of Azure Stack including the development kit and integrated system, data center integration with Azure Stack, configuring Azure Stack including delegation and for tenants, provisioning in Azure Stack, using OMS/DSC/VM extensions with Azure Stack, Customizing Azure Stack, automating in Azure Stack, and much more.

This book gives you the information you need around Azure Stack single and multi-node. It is a great place to start as you venture into the world of Microsoft Hybrid Cloud. The plan is to update this book as Microsoft continues to mature Azure Stack so this book will continue to be relevant.

Here is the book cover:

Here is the official description for the book:

“Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Unleashed brings together comprehensive and practical insights into hybrid cloud technologies, complete CloudOps and DevOps implementation strategies, and detailed guidance for deploying Microsoft Azure Stack in your environment.

Written by five Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVPs, this book is built on real-world scenarios and the authors’ extraordinary hands-on experiences as early adopters. Step by step, the authors help you integrate your optimal mix of private and public cloud, with a unified management experience that lets you move workloads at will, achieving unprecedented flexibility.

The authors also guide you through all aspects of building your own secure, high-performance hybrid cloud infrastructure. You’ll discover how Azure Stack enables you to run data centers with the same scalability, redundancy, and reliability as Microsoft’s Azure data centers; how to integrate Azure infrastructure and platform services with internal operations; and how to manage crucial external dependencies. The book concludes with a deep dive into automating and customizing Azure Stack for maximum reliability, productivity, and cost savings.

Detailed information on how to

  •     Run a private/hybrid cloud on your hardware in your data center, using APIs and code identical to public Azure
  •     Apply ITIL and DevOps lifecycles to your hybrid cloud implementation
  •     Gain a deep understanding of Azure Stack architecture, components, and internals
  •     Install and configure Azure Stack and master the Azure Stack Portal
  •     Integrate and utilize infrastructure, core, and custom resource providers
  •     Effectively provision, secure, and manage tenants
  •     Manage, monitor, troubleshoot, and back up Azure Stack with CloudOps
  •     Automate resource provisioning with PowerShell, the Azure CLI, templates, and Azure Stack’s API
  •     Write your own Azure Resource Manager templates
  •     Centrally automate cloud management and complex tasks connected to external systems
  •     Develop customized, production-ready Azure Stack marketplace items”

Here is a link to the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Hybrid-Cloud-Unleashed-Azure/dp/0672338505

Happy Azure Stacking!

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OMS and Cherwell ITSM Integration

Microsoft recently released public preview of OMS and ITSM integration. Here is the link for that announcement:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msoms/2017/05/11/it-service-management-connector-public-preview

Microsoft has built an ITSM connector in OMS. This new ITSM connector can connect to many ITSM solutions out there. The ITSM solutions it can connect to are:

  • System Center Service Manager (SCSM)
  • Cherwell
  • ServiceNow
  • Provance

This new ITSM connector is bi-directional meaning work items can flow from the ITSM solution into OMS and OMS can create work items in the ITSM solution such as incidents, alerts, and events. Hopefully in the future OMS could be used to populate a CMDB and even create application maps from OMS’s Service Map.

I wanted to give this a test run with a test Cherwell instance that I have. There is official documentation for the integrations. The documentation is good however after setting this up I did find that there could be a few more steps spelled out as well as screenshots with the Cherwell piece.

Needed settings from Cherwell:

Before you set the connection in OMS go and get the information you will need. So you will need a username and password of an account that has access to Cherwell, the Cherwell URL, and a Cherwell Client ID.

If you don’t know your Cherwell URL you can get this from the Cherwell client console. Launch Cherwell.

Before you login you can edit the connection to see the URL as shown in the screenshot. You will want to copy this to use in the OMS ITSM connector setup.

Note that you do not want to copy the entire URL. Only copy to the .com like https://test.demo.cherwell.com.

Next we need to generate the Client ID. The Client ID is basically a generated string called the client key used for connecting to Cherwell’s API. To get this client ID Launch the Cherwell Administrator console.

Login and click on Security and then Edit REST API client settings.

A window will pop up and you will need to click on the green plus to create a new one. Give it a name and copy out the Client Key.

Copy this as you will need it later.

Setup in OMS:

Next log into OMS and add the ITSM Connector preview. It is shown in the screenshot below.

After this has been added go to your OMS settings screen click on Connected Sources>ITSM Connector and then click on Add New Connection.

Select Cherwell for the connection type add in your Cherwell settings and save it. If everything worked your OMS is now connected to Cherwell.

Exploring the ITSM Connector:

Next let’s check things out in OMS. Before I did that I first went and created a new incident so I could see this flow over into OMS. So I created the following over in Cherwell:

After doing that I went back into OMS and kicked off a sync because I did not want to wait.

The connector picked up my new incident right away. You can see the dashboard ITSM tile has 2 incidents.

After clicking into this I am brought to the full ITSM dashboard. I then clicked on the Incident tile.

I was then brought to the incident dashboard and I could see the new incident I created.

I clicked on the new incident and it brought me to the OMS search with the details of the incident. Very cool!

I am excited to see cool stuff like this in OMS and integration with many ITSM tools. Look out for more blog posts in the future about ITSM Integration in OMS as well as in Azure Stack.

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The Evolution of ITSM

 

Again I am honored to be included among 14 other ITSM experts in a new e-book. This new e-book is about Future of IT Service Management. This e-book is free as it was sponsored by Cherwell. The e-book covers these five key areas:

  • Transforming Processes & Technology
  • Eliminating Business Silos
  • Enhancing Agility, Speed & Efficiency
  • Driving Business Objectives & Value
  • Focusing on Customer Experience

The goal of the e-book is to help IT professionals and organizations get a future outlook on the role of ITSM as we see more automation, cloud, and digital transformation. Here is the cover of the e-book:

Here is a shot of all of the thought leaders that contributed to the e-book:

You will find my insight in the Transforming Processes & Technology section on page 4 of the e-book!

Download the e-book here:

https://goo.gl/kH7haF

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IT Unity Community Champ & 25 ITSM Experts Feature

This has been an exciting year so far and an even more exciting week! I want to share that I am humbly honored to be featured twice this week. Once as an IT Community Champ by the highly respected Mary Jo Foley on www.petri.com and added to this years 25 ITSM Experts to watch list by Cherwell. 🙂 Again all of this was an unexpected surprise and I am honored to be included.  For information on both of these check out the links below:

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4th book published (Service Manager 2016)

On March 2nd I became a 4 time author. With several talented co-authors we published the Microsoft System Center 2016 Service Manager Cookbook. It was great to work with the co-authors and I would like to thank each of them for their hard work. The co-authors are:

 

  • Microsoft MVP Anders Asp
  • Microsoft MVP Andreas Baumgarten
  • Microsoft MVP Steve Beaumont
  • Service Manager/System Center expert Dieter Gasser

It was an honor to work with them. Also a shout out to Microsoft MVP Sam Erskine for writing up the foreword and helping with the technical review. Last I want to thank Rafael Delgado who also was a technical review on the book. This book is an update to the Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager Cookbook. In this new book you will read the new updated recipes for 2016, how to upgrade from 2012 R2 to 2016 and about the new HTML 5 portal.

Official book description:

System Center Service Manager (SCSM) is an integrated platform that offers a simplified data center management experience by implementing best practices such as Incident Management, Service Request, and Change control to achieve efficient service delivery across your organization.

This book provides you with real-world recipes that can be used immediately and will show you how to configure and administer SCSM 2016. You’ll also find out how to solve particular problems and scenarios to take this tool further. You’ll start with recipes on implementing ITSM frameworks and processes and configuring Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Then, you’ll work through deploying and configuring the HTML5 Self-Service Portal, configuring Incident and Problem Management, and designing and configuring change and release management. You’ll also learn about security roles and overall Microsoft SCSM 2016 administration.

Toward the end of the book, we’ll look at advanced topics, such as presenting the wealth of information stored within the Service Manager Data Warehouse, standardizing SCSM deployments, and implementing automation.

What you will learn:

  • See a practical implementation of the ITSM framework and processes based on ITIL
  • Deploy and configure the new Service Manager HTML5 Self-Service Portal along with Service Catalog design and configuration
  • Get to know about Incident, Problem, and Change Management processes and configuration
  • Get to grips with performing advanced personalization in Service Manager
  • Discover how to set up and use automation with and within Service Manager 2016
  • Work with Service Manager Data Warehouse
  • Find out what Security Roles are and how to implement them
  • Learn how to upgrade from SCSM 2012 R2 to SCSM 2016

The book can be ordered here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N5FL2SK

I also want to call out this is the 4th book that I have authored or co-authored. Here is a shot of all 4.

I have also been fortunate to be a technical reviewer on 5 other books. Here is a shot of them.

These books have all been on System Center products. I am stepping into a new era. Be on the lookout for more of a focus on cloud based solutions and know there is exciting stuff coming in the near future!

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5th Year Microsoft MVP!

Today was a special day as I received an email from Microsoft stating I was awarded as an MVP for the 5th year! Here is the email:

5th Year Microsoft MVP

This marks a special year. Microsoft awards you the special 5 year chip to add to your award. Here is a picture of the chip:

5th Year Microsoft MVP Chip

I am humbled to make it this long in the MVP program. A huge thanks goes out to everyone in the community and Microsoft. And as always I am honored to still be a part of such a great group of people. I have made many friends all over the world with other MVP’s, community, and Microsoft. I am looking forward to another exciting year of contributing to the community.

I will continue to do all that I can in the System Center community this year. Something new you will see from me this year is I will be contributing as much as I can also in the OMS and Azure Stack space. I am very excited about the new opportunities that are coming out of the growth of cloud.

My Microsoft MVP Profile: http://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/mvp/Steve%20Buchanan-4039736

Congrats to all the other new and renewed MVP’s!

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All Work Item Assigned/Reassigned Notification

A few years ago I posted a blog about work item assignment/reassignment notification options in Service Manager. Here is the link to that previous post:

SCSM Assignment/Re-Assignment Notify Options

Recently I modified the management pack for the last option #4 “Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications”. The Community Work Item Assignment/Reassignment Notifications management pack is originally from here: http://scsmsource.blogspot.com/2011/04/work-item-assignmentreassignment.html.

The management pack has been modified to include more work items and a notification template was created. This management pack now has one notification template to modify and will send out notifications on assignment and re-assignment for all work items. Work items it includes are:

  • Activity Assignments
  • Change Request Assignments
  • Incident Assignments
  • Problem Assignments
  • Release Record Assignments
  • Service Request Assignments

The notification template is generic so that it will fit all cases. The web link that is referenced in the notification template should be modified depending on the portal used in your Service Manager deployment.

Verified Service Manager Versions:

  • Service Manager 2012 SP1
  • Service Manager 2012 R2 (tested up to UR9)

Management Pack Name:

All.WorkItem.Assignment.Workflow.Library.xml

Version:

7.0.6555.1

Notification Template File Name:

All Work Item Assigned To Notification Template.html

Description:

Importing this Management Pack, will create 6 custom workflows:

6 workflows

The workflows cannot be modified in the Service Manager console. They can only be modified in XML in the management pack. They can be viewed in Service Manager at Administration\Workflows\Status.

And 1 new notification template:

  • All Work Item Assigned To Notification Template

Every time a work item gets assigned or re-assigned to someone, it will send the “assigned to” person an e-mail. The notification template looks like this:

all work items notification template

Feel free to modify the notification templates as you see fit after you have imported the management pack. The .html file for the notification template is also included for easy editing outside of Service Manager.

You can download this solution here:

https://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/All-Work-Item-AssignedReass-96fe40c7

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Service Manager vs. ServiceNow

I am often asked how does Service Manager compare to ServiceNow. I don’t have a solid canned response for this. I often respond that you really have to compare System Center to ServiceNow because you get the entire suite when you buy System Center not just Service Manager. Also it would be a bad decision to not consider using the other components such as Operations Manager, Orchestrator, and Configuration Manager given the tight out of the box integration with Service Manager and these components.

With ServiceNow you get an ITSM solution but have to pay additional monthly fee’s when you want to add on other functionality such as automation, event management (monitoring), CMDB, or asset management. With System Center you get all of this for the price of System Center and you simply have to turn and configure the additional functionality you want. One more point is that many organizations own and utilize Configuration Manager and or Operations Manager and will often already own the licensing they need to deploy Service Manager.

On December 9th 2015 System Center MVP’s Chris Ross and Pete Zerger held an awesome webinar on System Center + Cireson vs ServiceNow. This was a must see webinar. It covered the often asked about topic of “Service Manager vs ServiceNow“.

These guys did a great job covering the topic. One of the most important areas they covered was Real-world Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Comparison. TCO is one of the top data points that matter to businesses when they are considering a new ITSM solution.

In this blog post I am going to look at some of the key topics that stuck out to me from the webinar in regards to Service Manager vs ServiceNow. Keep in mind that these comparisons also include Cireson’s software.

One of the setbacks for some organizations on going with Service Manager is that they believe there is no cloud option for it. That is wrong Service Manager can be deployed in Azure cloud. Also there are a couple of companies that have a SaaS offering for Service Manager. The following graphic looks at the different types of Service Manager deployments and their options.

clip_image001

This first chart looks the numbers of the TCO of Service Manager vs ServiceNow if you don’t already own the System Center ECAL licensing.

clip_image002

You will notice that over a 5 year period System Center including Cireson and Azure is lower TCO over ServiceNow. Wow. If this did not include Cireson or Azure the TCO of System Center would be even lower compared to ServiceNow.

This next chart looks at the TCO of System Center vs ServiceNow if your organization already owns the ECAL licenses or has an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft.

clip_image003

This has even deeper savings compared to the first chart. Now remember this includes Cireson software and having Service Manager deployed in Azure.

This chart looks at the TCO of System Center vs ServiceNow with System Center being deployed on-premises.

clip_image004

Again the TCO savings with System Center goes even lower. This chart still includes Cireson with System Center. This does not include the cost of the data center fabric storage, VM’s etc… which would typically already be in place before deploying System Center.

The following table compares feature sets of System Center and ServiceNow.

clip_image005

Notice ServiceNow does offer features such as automation and system management but they come at an additional monthly cost. One more item to point out from this slide is that System Center offers functionality that ServiceNow does not such as enterprise and cloud backup through Data Protection Manager and Virtualization and Private cloud Management through Virtual Machine Manager and Azure Pack. ServiceNow does offer Event Management it requires an additional purchase and plugin install.

So I pulled out information from the webinar that stuck out to me. There is much more information in the webinar and context behind each of the charts I included in this blog post. I recommend you watch the full webinar. You can watch the entire webinar right here:

System Center + Cireson versus ServiceNow: A Head-to-Head Comparison from Team Cireson on Vimeo.

NOTE: Below is a link to another blog that covers Service Manager vs ServiceNow.

http://blog.navantis.com/reduce-it-spend-and-increase-performance-choosing-the-right-it-service-desk-tool/

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Did you miss the #ITSM role in #Private Cloud webinar?

Did you miss my recent webinar with Savision about ‘Service Management’s Role in the Private Cloud’? This was co-hosted by Savision’s co-founder and VP of Product Management, Dennis Rietvink. If you would like to see it or watch it again, the on-demand version is now available.

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Screenshots from the webinar

During the webinars, we covered the key factors in Private Cloud projects and why Private Clouds fail...

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