Microsoft Network Performance Monitor Improves ExpressRoute Visibility

Microsoft's Network Performance Monitor tool can now be used to keep tabs on ExpressRoute private cloud links.

Microsoft cloud

After teaming with computer networking giant Cisco to help joint customers get to the bottom of their Azure ExpressRoute networking issues last month, Microsoft's is now using its cloud-based Network Performance Monitor tool to provide more visibility into the connections that power their hybrid cloud environments.

Azure ExpressRoute provides businesses with a direct, private link to Microsoft's cloud, a tactic that bypasses the public internet, improving security and boosting reliability, two major considerations for running enterprise workloads in the cloud. Network Performance Monitor (NPM), part of the Microsoft Operations Management Suite of IT management tools for on-premises and cloud infrastructures, is a tool that enables users to oversee their network links to the Azure cloud.

Now, with the general availability release of a new ExpressRoute extension for Network Performance Monitor, customers can use the same tool to keep an eye on their private links to Azure.

"NPM can monitor the packet loss and network latency between your on-premises resources (branch offices, datacenters, and office sites) and Azure VNETs [Virtual Networks] connected through an ExpressRoute. You can set up alerts to get proactively notified whenever the loss or latency crosses the threshold," explained Abhave Sharma, a program manager in the Azure Infrastructure and Management group at Microsoft, in a blog post.

Insights are delivered in near real time, although the tool's network state recorder allows users to turn back the clock and unravel issues that have a habit of cropping up unexpectedly, added Sharma.

Microsoft isn't the only cloud provider offering customers direct connections to the cloud.

In November 2017, Google launched a similar service called Dedicated Interconnect. It allows businesses in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia to privately access the company's cloud computing resources with uptime guarantees of up to four-nines (99.99 percent) in certain configurations. Also in November, Amazon Web Services rolled out AWS PrivateLink, a service that enables secure endpoint connectivity from an Amazon virtual private cloud. AWS PrivateLink also supports AWS Direct Connect dedicated cloud links for ultra-secure connections.

Diving Into Big Data Lakes

For users wanting to rummage around their big data repositories in Azure, Microsoft has released a beta of Azure Data Lake Storage support in the Azure Storage Explorer client for Windows, macOS and Linux.

Imitating the look and feel of desktop-based file management tools, the new integration enables users to upload and download files, transfer files between Azure Data Lake Storage accounts and more, blogged Jenny Jiang, principal program manager of the Big Data group at Microsoft. Developers can also use the tool to keep an activity log and gather information on file properties and folder statistics.

Microsoft also updated its SQL Operations Studio software, a free data management tool for SQL Server, Azure SQL and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, the February release features the ability to create query tabs that retain an active database connection rather than having to manually input information each time. It also includes a database dropdown within the tool's connection dialogs that pre-populates the databases on a specified server along with auto-update functionality that alerts users when a new version of the software is available.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...