How to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Are you looking for a quick way to communicating on items which may be impacting your services in Azure? How about adding a “news flash” on your Azure dashboard. For background on dashboards in Azure these are previous blog posts I have done on this topic:

This blog post will also heavily leverage another blog post which uses Flow to send data to Log Analytics:

This blog post goes through two options to provide a rudimentary news flash on your Azure dashboards.

Option #1: Adding a static flash to your Azure dashboards via a Markdown

If you want a simpler way to crew a new flash with static content that you can update, you can add a Markdown where you can statically define the status updates. This is done by editing the dashboard and adding the Markdown option (shown below).

The benefit to this approach is you can customize the formatting (using bold, etc) and you can add links to external contacts (such as a link to a current Azure outage).

add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

The negative to this approach is the overhead associated with maintaining static content which may span multiple Azure dashboards.

Option #2: Adding a dynamic news flash to your Azure dashboards via writing data to Log Analytics

Another option available to add a news flash is to write data to Log Analytics with your status messages and have that Log Analytics data displayed on your dashboard. The following are the steps required to perform this:

Step 1: Write the data to Log Analytics

A quick way to write any data you want to Log Analytics is to use Flow to receive an email which writes the data into Log Analytics. For an example of this check out this previous blog post that I put together on the topic.

An example email is shown below where we specify the subject name (with a keyword) and the content is provided in a JSON format which is shown below:

{

“DashboardStatusMessage”: “Maintenance is scheduled to occur on 9/20/2018 at 8:00 pm central”

}

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

When the account which is specified receives an email which matches the appropriate title content, it then parses the data and writes it to Log Analytics.

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Step 2: Query the data in Log Analytics

Once the data is written to Log Analytics it can be queried to see the data which was written (please note, the first time a record is written to the new custom class it takes approximately 1 hour for the first record to write).

A sample query to showcase this data is below.

StatusMessage_CL

| where TimeGenerated > startofday(datetime(now), 0)

| extend TodaysMessages = DashboardStatusMessage_s

| project TodaysMessages

Results of the query are shown below.

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Once the query is in place you can pin this to your Azure dashboard.

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Step 3: Add the visualization to the dashboard in Log Analytics

The top left corner of the dashboard shows the status messages which were written to Log Analytics. Due to how the query was written, it will automatically only include messages which were sent that day (making maintenance of this solution very simple).

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Now any time you want to update the status messages, you just send an email with the right content and it appears on your dashboard!

Additional benefits to this approach:

Another benefit to this is you can configure alerts or push notifications so that everyone is made aware when a condition like this occurs. The screenshots below show an email notification, and an SMS notification. Additionally push notifications can be sent as well as voicemails.

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

how to add a news flash to your Azure dashboards

Different options to add the data:

This example shows an email as a method to send the data to Log Analytics and expose this data in Azure dashboards but that’s not the only option available. Flow can take lots of different inputs for situations like this. Others I’ve been considering include:

  • Using a SharePoint list that sends data to Log Analytics or some other front-end to report potential outages.
  • Use RSS to check for news articles online that you are interested in and have that auto-populate relevant news articles on the dashboard

Summary: If you are looking for a simple way add news flashes to your Azure Dashboard take a look at the options in this blog post. The Flow integrated method showcased in Option #2 provides a way to quickly and dynamically update all of your Azure dashboards with a minimum of work to maintain them.

Thanks for Sean for his insight into this topic!

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