Microsoft Beefs Up Azure Websites Management

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Azure Websites, Microsoft's platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering for secure Websites and Web-based applications, now offers developers and administrators more management and monitoring options.

In a pair of blog posts, Apurva Joshi, senior program manager for Microsoft Azure Websites, detailed several of the new features and site enhancements his team has rolled out in an effort to help customers keep a more careful eye on their Azure-backed sites. Among them are new PHP reporting options in the Azure Websites Diagnostic as a Service (DaaS) site extension.

Prior to the update, capturing and analyzing PHP dumps in an effort to unearth useful information required time, resources and a fair amount of storage, "especially when there are a large number of Php-cgi processes (processes running your PHP code)," Joshi wrote in a Dec. 1 Azure Blogs post.

"To improve the efficiency in these scenarios, we developed this new feature to attach to live PHP processes and process a PHP process report without capturing dumps," he added. The new PHP Analysis Report provides a list of all PHP processes on a site, which users can drill down to expose more detailed information, including thread stack backtrace data, thread CPU usage and several other parameters.

Also new is a PHP Error Log Analyzer. "We allow site owners to collect and analyze PHP error logs (php-errors.log) directly from [the] DaaS site extension," said Joshi. "Php-errors.log is generated by default anytime your PHP application is throwing an exception."

Based on this data, the DaaS extension provides a PHP error log processing report that lists unique PHP events (fatal and parsing errors) for the past 24 hours and/or seven days. Reports also display the top 10 PHP pages with the most errors and a tally of all fatal errors.

In a separate blog post, Joshi detailed some of the new self-service troubleshooting and diagnostics features added to Support Portal for Azure Websites.

Users can now "monitor live HTTP traffic and server errors per hostname" or in aggregate, wrote Joshi. "This scenario is very useful when your Websites are behind traffic manager or accessed using different host names."

A new Event Viewer consolidates the event log from multiple instances into one view. "You can chose to filter based on event levels, date-time range, event ID and Source," said Joshi. His group is also working on a per-instance sorting function.

Basic and Standard Azure Website accounts have access to Role Metrics, a new reporting function that enables users to better zero in on the cause of site issues in environments that employ multiple instances. "Now that you've identified an instance that needs … attention, you can analyze that instance using Diagnostics or simply Restart Site Process on a specific role instance instead of restarting the whole site and taking down all other instances at the same time," said Joshi.

Finally, Support Portal for Azure Websites features ClearDB integration for basic MySQL diagnostics and testing along with new notifications that alert administrators to HTTP runtime issues.

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