Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Challenges with troubleshooting in the cloud

When you’re trying to diagnose a traditional on-premises system, you have easy access to the machine and the log sources on it. You can usually connect to the machine with a remote desktop and get your hands on it. You can parse through log files, both those created by Windows and those created by your application. You can monitor the health of the system by using Performance Monitor, and tap into any source of information
on the server. During troubleshooting, it’s common to leverage several tools on the server itself to slice and dice the mountain of data to figure out what’s gone wrong.

You simply can’t do this in the cloud. You can’t log in to the server directly, and you have no way of running remote analysis tools. But the bigger challenge in the cloud is the dynamic nature of your infrastructure. On-premises, you have access to a static pool of servers. You know which server was doing what at all times. In the cloud, you don’t have this ability. Workloads can be moved around; servers can be created and destroyed at will. And you aren’t trying to diagnose the application on one server, but across a multitude of servers, collating and connecting information from all the different sources.

The number of servers used in cloud applications can swamp most diagnostic analysis tools. The shear amount of data available can cause bottlenecks in your system. For example, a typical web user, as they browse your website and decide to check out, can be bounced from instance to instance because of the load balancer. How do you truly find out the load on your system or the cause for the slow response while they were checking out of your site? You need access to all the data that’s available on terrestrial servers and you need the data collated for you.

You also need close control over the diagnostic data producers. You need an easy way to dial the level of information from debug to critical. While you’re testing your systems, you need all the data, and you need to know that the additional load it places on the system is acceptable. During production, you want to know only about the most critical issues, and you want to minimize the impact of these issues on system performance.

For all these reasons, the Windows Azure Diagnostics platform sits on top of what is already available in Windows. The diagnostics team at Microsoft has extended and plugged in to the existing platform, making it easy for you to learn, and easy to find the information you need.

Source of Information : Manning Azure in Action 2010
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