Azure Application Insights series part 2: How to create application monitoring dashboards in Azure

This is the second post in a series I’m writing on Azure’s Application Insights (AI) service. In the previous post we looked at how to instrument our application code for monitoring.

Here in this post we will walk through how to create application monitoring dashboards directly in Azure using the Azure Dashboards feature and leveraging data from Application Insights and Azure resource metrics.

Continue reading

Azure Application Insights series part 1: How to instrument your application code for monitoring

This is the first post in a new series I’m writing on Azure’s Application Insights (AI) service. The goal of the series is to walk through some of the basics for monitoring your Azure hosted services with Application Insights. We will cover topics like instrumentation, monitoring dashboards, and paging alerts.

In this post we have a look at code instrumentation: What is it? What are SLIs? How do we use the Application Insights client libraries? What are some instrumentation best practices?

Continue reading

Tracking and classifying Azure DevOps work items in SRE toil budgets

In Google’s Site Reliability Engineering book, the chapter on toil (tedious, manual operational work) asserts that we should keep toil work amounts to only a small fraction of our total engineering hours. The reason for this is that too much toil work negatively impacts the engineering team.

In this post we will review some toil basics, talk about why toil tracking matters, and see how we can leverage Azure DevOps to track and classify our sprint work for enhanced toil budget tracking.

Continue reading

How to troubleshoot Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template validation errors

Deploying Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates with the Azure PowerShell command New-AzureRmResourceGroupDeployment can fail for a variety of reasons. One of the more confusing situations can occur when handling template validation errors (Code=InvalidTemplateDeployment). This is because sometimes additional context is missing from the Exception and you have to lookup more information into order to troubleshoot the issue. In this post we will take a closer look at this particular error and how to resolve it.

Continue reading

Book Review: Docker on Windows: From 101 to Production

Docker is a powerful container platform originally designed for Linux, but quickly became popular enough to receive native support on Windows. I first read Docker training material that took more of a Linux-first approach and loved what I saw. However my day-to-day work is still typically Microsoft/Azure stack so I was looking for a good book that takes on the nuances of working with Docker in a Windows or Azure environment.

I found Docker on Windows: From 101 to Production with Docker on Windows by Elton Stoneman to be really helpful for that purpose. This post is my quick review of the 1st edition.

Continue reading

Book Review: Cloud Architecture Patterns: Using Microsoft Azure

Building scalable systems for the cloud involves leveraging unique design patterns specific to cloud services. In Bill Wilder’s book, Cloud Architecture Patterns: Using Microsoft Azure, he walks through these patterns in detail with practical examples for Microsoft Azure. Although this book is now several years old, most of the patterns still hold up today.

Continue reading

PowerShell module starter kit – updated for 2019

A couple years ago I wrote a PowerShell module starter kit (here). The goal was to provide an example for organizing a module using best practices and provide a live repository you could clone and play around with.

I’ve taken that starter kit module and updated it for 2019. Incorporating some new best practices and new usage patterns that I find helpful. Head over to the GitHub link to check it out!
Continue reading