Getting started with Service Map in Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure introduced a new service called Service Map, which is a great tool because it is able to map all communication flow to and from a monitored server. This is, obviously, very useful for security professionals and support teams. The communication flow includes traffic between servers, processes, and ports. As long as you have the agent installed on the VM, all traffic in and out will be tracked and stored in the OMS Workspace.

Having this kind of service in your environment helps in several cases, such as patch management, transition, discovery, security, and incident management. Knowing all the communication of any given server or group server helps in the planning and changes in any environment.

The cloud administrator must be aware of some details of this service. Some of the key points are:

  • The solution is currently available in five regions: East U.S., West Europe, West Central U.S., and Southeast Asia.
  • The tracking occurs on TCP connections. A single agent is able to capture all traffic in and out of any given VM.
  • It supports only 64-bit operating systems.
  • It does support Windows (2008 R2 SP1 and later versions, and desktop OS of Windows 7 and later) and Linux (tons of flavors and versions).
  • There is a small footprint of memory and CPU (something like 0.1 percent) in the agent.
  • It is expected there will be a 25MB traffic between the VM and the workspace in a single day, and the data is sent every 15 seconds

Creating your first Service Map

The Service Map service requires an OMS workspace and it can be added to an existent one or a new one can be created. One of the methods to create your first Service Map is by clicking on New Resource in the Microsoft Azure portal, and then typing in Service Map. Select the Service Map from the list (just to be sure, it is from Microsoft under Management Tools category).

In the new blade, a summary of the service will be displayed. Click on Create.

In the new blade, we can select an existent Workspace or create a new one. After making your selections, click on Create. The result will be seen under the Solutions item in the workspace.

service map

Configuring a Windows Server to use Service Map

All machines that will be part of the Service Map require two agents: Microsoft Monitoring Agent and Dependency Agent. We can take advantage of Azure Automation to install that automatically (which is going to be a topic of a separate article.) There are several ways to accomplish this task. One could use a RunBook or a DSC (desired state configuration) and both are available using Azure Automation.

In this article, we will install manually but we are publishing a script to connect any VM with a workspace. Logged on Azure Portal, open the Log Analytics that is going to be used for the Service Map, click on Virtual Machines item under Workspace data sources, and a list of VMs will be listed on the blade that will be displayed on the right side.

Select the desired VM, and on the new blade, click on Connect. This process will install the Microsoft Monitoring Agent (MMA) on the desired VM, and that is the first step required for the Service Map.

service map

The second step is to install the Dependency Agent on the same VM. There are a couple of ways to find the latest version of the agent. We can get it from the documentation from the Service Map page located within the Log Analytics or use this one for Windows or this one for Linux.

service map

The installation process is simple. Just click on I agree on the initial page, and that’s it. We just need to complete the process by clicking on Finish on the last page.

This process will install the Microsoft Dependency Agent service in the VM, as depicted in the image below.

service map

Using Service Map

Now that we configured the clients to report their data to Service Map, there are a couple of ways to use the service. Open the Log Analytics/Workspace that we defined/created to be used with Service Maps in the Azure Portal, click on Solutions, and click on Service Maps item located on the right side.

In the Overview item, we will see a brief summary of the solution and in the Summary section we can see how many agents are reporting in the last 30 minutes, and the total of VMs that have reported to the service, the last one shows the number of VMs per operating system (Windows/Linux). Click on that box to explore the Service Map service.

service map

That is the main page and where all the action will occur. Select a VM from the left side and on the map. We will have right out off the bat the VM and the communication flow of that VM. We can see that there are some clients accessing some services of that VM, and the VM is using ports 32526, 443, 80 to communicate with other parties, and also some communication going on with TORDC01 (which is the Domain Controller).

service map

More to come

There is so much more to cover in this area that we will have an article just for that! Stay tuned for the next article about Service Map here at TechGenix.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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