May 202014

Visual Studio Online has a relatively new feature called Application Insights. It’s currently in preview, but it already has lots of nice features for gaining insights into what is going on with your web app (or Windows Phone app or Azure web site).

I’m planning to do a few blog posts on this subject. This first part is about installing the monitoring agent and getting the first Application Insights information from my apps to the Application Insights portal.

In my current main project, we have a lot of WCF services hosted with my company’s hosting branch. We don’t have a lot of information about the service health and their use, other than what monitoring services we have built ourselves. Since that is not our main business, we decided to use a third-party service to monitor those things.

We have evaluated a few options, and decided to go further with VS Application Insights, as it seemed to be enough for our needs – and while we evaluate, its free. I guess it will come at a cost when it gets out of preview.

Visual Studio Application Insights is part of Visual Studio Online. You need an account on VSO to use it, but you don’t need to use VSO for any other part of your development work.

First of all, to monitor our services and server performance, it was necessary to install the Microsoft Monitoring Agent.

That was the first hurdle. The hosting provider uses Systems Center Operations Manager to monitor the servers, and they have already installed an older version of the MMA. Luckily they were OK with us upgrading it to the version that can report health both to SCOM and Application Insights.

Installation is not so simple as it should be when you already have the SCOM version of MMA installed. It needs to be uninstalled manually before upgrading. Afterwards, I had a bit of problems figuring out where to configure the agent settings. You can find the control panel tool in the “System and Security” part of the Windows Control Panel, or just search the Control Panel for “agent”.

If you want to monitor the server with SCOM, you need to enter the Management Group Configuration, unless the SCOM setup is such that the server gets the management group assigments from Active Directory.


Then, to connect to Visual Studio Online, you need to enter your VSO Account ID and Instrumentation Key. You can get those from the Application Insights portal.


Be careful, it may perform an iisreset on the server when you click OK or Apply.

Finally, after completing the installation and configuration, you should restart the “Microsoft Monitoring Agent” and “Microsoft Monitoring Agent APM” services.

Now the server is ready to monitor IIS applications and send performance data to Visual Studio Online. Instrumenting applications is covered in my next blog post about the subject.


Posts two and three in the series are now up:

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