Charlie Mac and Associates

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🔍 Identify Threats Early With Azure Monitor

When I was learning to fly, monitoring was a big deal. Looking out for traffic, making sure engine temperature and pressure remained in the green zone, adjusting angle of attack, tweaking airspeed, checking radio frequencies, watching the little ball on the yaw indicator. These constant checks ensured safe, smooth and efficient flight. The same goes for IT systems monitoring (including APM and SIEM). With out them, you are in for a vomit inducing ride.

It is important for you to have full insight and control into all aspects of IT operations, and to leverage your current Microsoft licencing. That’s what I believe. There are plenty of 3rd party products out there that you can install OOTB (eg Solar Winds OrionAtera, Connectwise to name a few), but in my opinion they are bloated and expensive. My preference is to focus on the Microsoft stack – being Azure Monitor (coupled with Azure Arc for on-prem infrastructure), Azure Sentinel, Application Insights and Log Analytics Workspaces. All work together to provide incredibly detailed insight and use AI to determine patterns that require attention.

A good place to start is in monitoring system health in Azure Monitor. By dialling down the refresh rate you can monitor a few servers for a few dollars a month. Add servers on-premises or in a private cloud to Azure Monitor by enrolling them in Azure Arc (free unless you use extended features). With a few clicks and running a simple script, you’ll then have the details of all of your servers in Azure. In addition, Azure Arc will make these servers visible to Windows Defender in the Cloud, with security scores and recommendations provided for all.

Then use some of the OOTB queries to create alert rules and set severities and automated actions. Email, SMS and other notification methods are supported. Once you know where to go, the process of setup is easy. Go beyond your datacentres and try Application Insights to monitor websites and web apps. In addition, sophisticated network monitoring is available through Azure Sentinel. We use an OOTB connector with the Ubiquiti network equipment we deploy and manage for our clients.

Don’t be like Mav’s Dad. As Viper said, “We were in the worst dogfight I ever dreamed of. There were bogeys like fireflies all over the sky. His F-4 was hit, and he was wounded, but he could’ve made it back”. Be like Slider – “Contact, multiple bogey’s 165, 2 miles”. Identify and engage threats to your IT infrastructure and be situationally aware.

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