Azure with New Apps Features: Adaptive Applications Controls and App Service Diagnostics

Posted by Augusto Alvarez on January 10, 2018
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Microsoft is continuously releasing new features and options available in their public Azure version, the initial state is usually the “preview” of this feature, which after a period and final touches transforms into General Availability (GA). Within the last couple of weeks, Microsoft released two new features in these two different stages: Adaptive Applications Controls as a public preview and Azure App Service Diagnostics as general availability. These new features come with great benefits for organizations relying on Azure to host critical applications.

Microsoft Azure Graph Web App - Request Count - Requests and Errors

Adaptive Application Controls

This feature allows administrators to easily add a new security layer to Azure workloads protecting them from malware by using whitelisting rules. So, for admins that have a good understanding of their apps, you can specifically add the specific processes allowed to work within specific workloads, the rest can be blocked.

Microsoft Azure App - Adaptive application controls - Create application control rules

The key aspect here is having a good understanding of the application, and most likely could require for the Azure Admin to work closely with the application owner. Otherwise, without whitelisting correctly the processes, applications malfunctions will easily appear.

Adaptive Application Controls use machine learning techniques to analyze the behavior of your Azure virtual machines, recommend and automatically apply the appropriate whitelisting rules. All these configurations can be reviewed and applied in the Azure Security Center.

Adaptive application controls are currently available only for Windows virtual machines running in Azure. These new capabilities are available within the standard pricing tier of Azure Security Center, and you can try it for free for the first 60 days.

Azure App Service Diagnostics

Azure App Service Diagnostics is a new proactive way to monitor applications and workloads within Azure, this service provides a health-check verification for your apps, including enhanced reporting and analysis for a comprehensive understanding.

Microsoft Azure App - Azure App Service Diagnostics - App Error Analysis

Azure and/or application admins can run proactive health checkups against common web app metrics and access a large built-in knowledge for faster troubleshooting.  The Azure App Service Diagnostics can detect issues in four areas: Requests and Errors, Performance, CPU Usage, and Memory Usage.

In addition to the reporting, of course, is included the actionable mitigations you can apply to solve the presented issues. As shown in the image above, the analysis performed goes beyond resources bottle-necks like CPU or memory, it can even state that there are some issues with the application code.

The full diagnostic report will show you relevant graphed metrics from the last 24 hours. If your app experiences any downtime, it’s represented by an orange bar underneath the timeline (see the image above).


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