Monitor Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute & Network Performance

Alyssa Lamberti
Alyssa Lamberti Last updated on Jul. 9, 2020

Monitor Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute & Network Performance

In Summary

Many Microsoft customers rely on Azure ExpressRoute to create private and secure connections between Microsoft cloud applications and their on-premise infrastructures. While many users enjoy the benefits of Azure ExpressRoute as is, it's important to keep monitoring your Azure ExpressRoute performance, to make sure you never lose connection with your favourite Microsoft services.

In this article, we’ll be running you through how and why to monitor network performance of Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute between your on-premise infrastructure, up to the Microsoft cloud.

What is Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute?

Azure ExpressRoute is a service offered by Microsoft which allows you to create private connections between your on-premise networks and Microsoft cloud using a private connection facilitated by a connectivity provider. With ExpressRoute, you can establish connections to Microsoft cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365.

Connectivity can be established from an any-to-any (IPVPN) network, a point-to-point Ethernet network, or a virtual cross-connection through a connectivity provider at a co-location facility.

Azure ExpressRoute connections don’t go over the public Internet, which offers users higher security, reliability, and speeds with lower latencies than typical connections over the Internet. This is highly beneficial for users that require a connection speed and reliability for Azure assets or an entire Azure infrastructure.

Why Configure Network Performance Monitoring for Azure ExpressRoute?

You may already have some kind of monitoring system in place that probes your devices and alerts you if the device connection is down or if the CPU is too high. While a monitoring system of that kind is beneficial, and definitely something that you should hold on to, what happens if your provider, or third-party connector solution, begins to experience issues such as congestion or packet loss? When that happens, most users rarely have tools in place to monitor these systems from end-to-end.

You don’t want these issues to go unnoticed until they wreak havoc on your network infrastructure.

Here’s how network performance monitoring can help:

1. Find Issues Immediately

The sooner you identify any issues within your network, the faster you can start working on fixing them. Any network problems that remain unidentified for long periods of time are a grave threat to your infrastructure. A network performance monitoring solution notifies you as soon as a problem occurs, so you can get straight into problem-solving mode!

2. Protect the End-User

Finding and fixing issues quickly is detrimental to your business. The faster you fix a problem, the less time it’ll have to affect your customers or end-users. So that means you’ll increase productivity, and achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.

3. Measure and Collect Data

You can’t really understand what you can't measure. Measuring something is the first step to improving your network. With network performance monitoring, you can measure your network performance and collect historical data to create a performance baseline. That way, you can always understand when your network performance is performing optimally, and when it’s below average.

4. Continuous Monitoring

A good performance monitoring solution will continuously monitor network performance to find intermittent issues that are often hard to pinpoint. It gives you all the data you need to measure and understand what’s happening within your network.

Check out our article on the differences between Fault Monitoring and Performance Monitoring to understand how performance monitoring focuses on identifying quality problems, which are often intermittent and hard to identify.

Fault Monitoring vs Performance Monitoring

Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute Monitoring Setup

Monitoring Azure Expressroute with Obkio is as easy as setting up any other monitoring session - which can be done in minutes!

1. Deploy Network Monitoring Agents

As with every Obkio monitoring setup, you need to deploy network monitoring Agents at strategic locations like your head office, remote office, data center etc, to monitor network performance using a distributed network performance solution.

You can learn more about distributed network monitoring and more in our article on the 10 most asked network performance questions.

Since you’ll want to monitor the network performance between Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute and your on-premise infrastructure, you’ll want to deploy two agents:

  • Microsoft Cloud Agent: We recommend the Software (Linux) agent that can be installed on your favorite Linux distribution, including Debian, Ubuntu and CentOS. Recently, we’ve made our Software agent available to all Windows users as well with our brand new Network Monitoring Agent for Windows 10, which uses WSL 2 as its backend!

  • On-Premise Agent: If you have Linux servers, the Software (Linux) version is perfect. If you have an Hyper-V or VMware environment, the Virtual Appliance is ideal. Otherwise, we have hardware agents that are very easy to deploy and offer all of the same functionality. You can purchase Hardware Agents directly from the Obkio Store.

2. Obkio App Configurations

Once you’ve installed your monitoring agents at your chosen locations, you’ll need just two configurations which are required in the Obkio App:

All your network monitoring agents must be in the same Network. When two agents are in the same Network, they’ll communicate using private IPs instead of Public IPs.

You also need to configure a Network Monitoring Template to create the network performance monitoring session.

3. Start Monitoring

Once you’ve created your monitoring sessions, you can start collecting and analysing data using Obkio’s Cloud Engine, and view results in your Obkio App.

End-to-End Network Performance Monitoring Results

That's it! Monitoring Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute with Obkio is as simple as that.

Now, your network monitoring agents will send packets to each other every 500ms to measure network performance metrics such as latency, jitter, packet loss, and VoIP quality.

Outages can be detected within 5 seconds and network degradation within a minute. You can also go back in time and see the exact network performance for every minute of the previous week with historical data, and create a network performance baseline.

Traceroutes are also executed periodically in both directions to identify hop-by-hop issues and to keep track of the historial latency between hops. With all these features, it'll be easier than ever to identify and troubleshoot network performance issues!

This monitoring setup also allows you to schedule automatic speed tests between the agents to test the available throughput on the connection between your on-premise infrastructure and the Microsoft Cloud.

Top 10 Most Asked Network Performance Questions

Expand Your Network Monitoring Setup

Now that you have your monitoring setup in place, it’s extremely easy to install more agents in branch offices, data centers and other clouds providers to monitor network performance. There are also Public Agents available to monitor performance to your favorite service provider on the Internet. If you haven’t already, get a free trial of Obkio’s Network Performance Monitoring Solution today!