Windows Azure SDK 2.4 and prior used Windows Azure Diagnostics 1.0 which provided multiple options for configuring diagnostics collection, including code based configuration using the Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Diagnostics classes. Windows Azure SDK 2.5 introduces Windows Azure Diagnostics 1.2 which streamlines the configuration and adds enhanced capabilities for post-deployment enablement, however it removes the code based configuration capabilities. This blog post will describe how to convert your older code based diagnostics configuration to the new WAD 1.2 XML based configuration model.
For more information about WAD 1.2 see http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/cloud-services-dotnet-diagnostics/.
Specifying diagnostics Configuration in XML
In Azure SDK 2.4 it was possible to configure diagnostics through code as well as xml configuration (the diagnostics.wadcfg file) and developers needed to understand the precedence rules of how the diagnostics agent picks up the configuration settings (see here for more information). Azure SDK 2.5 removes this complexity and the diagnostics agent will now always use the xml configuration. This has some implications when you migrate your Azure SDK 2.4 project to Azure SDK 2.5. If your Azure SDK 2.4 project already uses the xml based diagnostics configuration then when you upgrade the project in Visual Studio to target Azure SDK 2.5, Visual Studio will automatically update the xml based configuration to the new format (diagnostics.wadcfgx). If you project continued to use the code based configuration (for example, using the API in Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Diagnostics and Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Diagnostics.Management) then when its upgraded to SDK 2.5, you will get build warnings which will inform you of the deprecated APIs. The diagnostics data will not be collected unless you configure your diagnostics using the XML file (diagnostics.wadcfgx) or through the Visual Studio diagnostics configuration UI.
Let’s look at an example- In Azure SDK 2.4 you could be using the code below to update the diagnostics configuration for the diagnostics infrastructure logs. In this particular example the code is setting the Loglevel for the diagnostics infrastructure logs to Error and the Transfer Period to 5 minutes. When you migrate this project to SDK 2.5 you will get a build warning around this code with the message that the API is deprecated – “Warning: ‘Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Diagnostics.DiagnosticMonitor’ is obsolete: “This API is deprecated””. The project will still build and deploy but it won’t update the diagnostics configuration.
To configure the diagnostics infrastructure logs in Azure SDK 2.5 you must remove that code based configuration and update the diagnostics configuration xml file (diagnostics.wadcfgx) associated with your role. Visual Studio provides a configuration UI to let you specify these diagnostics settings. To configure the diagnostics through Visual Studio you can Right click on the Role and select Properties to display the Role Designer. On the Configuration tab make sure Enable Diagnostics is selected and click Configure. This will bring up the Diagnostics configuration UI where you can go to the Infrastructure Logs Tab and select Enable transfer of Diagnostics Infrastructure Logs and set the Transfer Period and Log Level Appropriately.
Behind the scenes Visual Studio is updating the diagnostics.wadcfgx file with the appropriate xml to configure the infrastructure logs. See highlighted as an example:
The diagnostics configuration dialog in Visual Studio lets you configure other settings like Application Logs, Windows Event Logs, Performance Counters, Infrastructure Logs, Log Directories, ETW Logs and Crash Dumps.
With Azure SDK 2.5 you can use the diagnostics configuration UI to enable the default performance counters:
For Custom Performance counters you still have to instrument your code to create the custom performance category and counters as earlier. Once you have instrumented your code you can enable transferring these custom performance counters to storage by adding them to the list of performance counters in the diagnostics configuration UI. Eg. For a custom performance counter you can enter the category and name “\SampleCustomCategory\Total Button1 Clicks” in the text box and click Add.
Visual Studio will automatically add the performance counters selected in the UI to the diagnostics configuration file diagnostics.wadcfgx:
For WindowsEventLog data you can enable transfer of logs for common data sources directly from the diagnostics configuration UI.
For custom event logs that you define in your code for example ->
You have to manually add the custom source to the wadcfgx XML file under the WindowsEventLog node. Make sure the name matches the name specified in code:
Enabling diagnostics extension through PowerShell
Since Azure SDK 2.5 uses the extension model the diagnostics extension, the configuration and the connection string to the diagnostic storage are no longer part of the deployment package and cscfg. All the diagnostics configuration is contained within the wadcfgx. The advantage with this approach is that diagnostics agent and settings are decoupled from the project and can be dynamically enabled and updated even after your application is deployed.
Due to this change some existing workflows need to be rethought – instead of configuring the diagnostics as part of the application that gets deployed to each environment you can first deploy the application to the environment and then apply the diagnostics configuration for it. When you publish the application from Visual Studio this process is done automatically for you. However if you were deploying your application outside of VS using PowerShell then you have to install the extension separately through PowerShell.
There PowerShell cmdlets for managing the diagnostics extensions on a Cloud Service are –
You can use the Set-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtension method to enable diagnostics extension on a cloud service. One of the parameters on this cmdlet is the XML configuration file. This file is slightly different from the diagnostics.wadcfgx file. You can create this file from scratch as described here or you can modify the wadcfgx file and pass in the modified file as a parameter to the powershell cmdlet.
To modify the wadcfgx file –
1. Make a copy the .wadcfgx.
2. Remove the following elements from the Copy:
<StorageAccount name=" " endpoint="https://core.windows.net/" />
3. Make sure the top of the file still has xml version and encoding –
Effectively you are stripping down the Wadcfgx to only contain the <PublicConfig> section and the <?xml> header. You can then call the PowerShell cmdlet along with the appropriate parameters for the staging slots and roles:
$storage_name = ‘<storagename>’
$service_name = ‘<servicename>’
$public_config = ‘<thepublicconfigfrom_diagnostics.wadcfgx>’
$storageContext = New-AzureStorageContext –StorageAccountName $storage_name –StorageAccountKey $key
Set-AzureServiceDiagnosticsExtension -StorageContext $storageContext -DiagnosticsConfigurationPath $public_config –ServiceName $service_name -Slot ‘Staging’ -Role ‘WebRole1’