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Dependency Mapping In The Azure Cloud

Dependency mapping in the Azure cloud is a valuable tool that allows organizations to understand and manage the relationships between their various cloud services.

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What Is Application Dependency Mapping?

Application dependency mapping is a process that helps you understand the connections between different hardware, software, and system components in a complex environment. It helps your business to use hybrid cloud-based and local services.

Finding the right approach to application dependency mapping will allow you to maintain uptime, ensure functionality, and reduce the dependency management burden on internal teams.

The main benefit of mapping application dependencies is improved observability and visibility into the application stack. Dependency maps can help you set up real-time notifications of network problems and changes, allowing teams to respond quickly. They also make problem-solving faster and easier by facilitating diagnostic tasks like root cause analysis. 

Application dependency mapping helps you save time and money and improve your IT project management. The whole business benefits from maximum uptime, with fewer dysfunctional applications and services. 

Why Is Dependency Mapping Important?

Dependency mapping provides several important advantages. First, it helps prevent unexpected problems during application development projects. Everyone knows what is happening in the application and what they must do, so there is less chance of human error. 

Second, dependency maps help ensure all teams work toward the same objective. Each team member can focus on their specific role within the larger project picture, making it easier to track progress. Dependency mapping also helps improve communication between stakeholders and teams, ensuring accountability. It visualizes the relationship between each step, providing a clear, shared project vision.

Dependencies can also help reduce risk. Add layers to the application delivery process – e.g., quality control, checks, and editing – reduces the risk of the team overlooking problems. Errors are much more common when a single person is responsible for everything.

Finally, dependency mapping helps the overall project progress faster. You identify potential bottlenecks early in the SDLC, allowing you to deal with them before they delay the project.

Dependency Mapping for Cloud Migration

Mapping code dependencies between applications allows organizations to identify dependencies between migrated applications and other applications (which they may or may not migrate). This insight enables businesses to identify weak connections, assess their potential impact, and take action to minimize risk. This reduces the likelihood that an application’s dependencies will break, which can lead to outages or malfunctions after migration.

Teams that choose to modernize must decide whether to refactor or rewrite their applications. Refactoring involves making changes to existing code to improve it, whereas rewriting means generating code from scratch and is more time consuming. Application dependency mapping can show which of the two is more effective, by highlighting the hidden complexity, interconnections, and potential risks of application migration.

Application dependency mapping also helps with data binding. When planning a migration to the cloud, organizations should evaluate whether all data is migrated with the application, or whether it makes sense to split the database and move only a few selected tables. Alternatively, data can be replicated or cached in the cloud.

If only parts of an application need to be moved to the cloud, the team needs to understand which parts have dependencies. If the parts that need to be migrated are loosely coupled in the application, it may make most sense to split the application into microservices. However, this is not practical when the parts that need to be migrated are tightly coupled (different modules are dependent on each other). Businesses cannot make informed decisions without a clear and accurate understanding of application interconnectivity and code dependencies.

Azure Application Mapping

Application Insights is an extension of Azure Monitor that provides application performance monitoring (APM) functionality. Application Insights includes an Application Map feature, which helps identify performance bottlenecks and show failure hotspots for all components of a distributed application. Each node in the map represents an application component or its dependencies, with health KPIs and alert states. 

You can select a component to view more detailed diagnostic information, such as Application Insights events. If your app uses Azure services, you can also select Azure diagnostics such as Azure SQL Database Advisor recommendations. Application Map also provides a smart view to support urgent service health investigations.

You can view the entire application topology at multiple levels of related application components. Components can be other Application Insights resources or different roles within one resource. Application Map discovers components based on HTTP dependency calls made between servers, assuming the Application Insights SDK is installed.

How Application Map works

  1. Discovering the components based on HTTP calls. When the application map is first loaded, a series of queries are run to retrieve components related to that component. 
  2. The upper left of the UI is updated with the number of components detected in the application.
  3. Selecting Update Map Components will update the map with all components found so far. Depending on the complexity of your application, it may take several minutes for this update to load.
  4. A map of application dependencies is displayed – see an example below.

This discovery step is not required if all components are roles within a single Application Insights resource.

Image Source: Azure

One of the main goals of this experience is to be able to visualize complex topologies with hundreds of components.

You can select a component to view relevant insights and navigate to that component’s performance and perform triage of faults in the environment.

Image Source: Azure

Conclusion

In conclusion, dependency mapping in the Azure cloud is a valuable tool that allows organizations to understand and manage the relationships between their various cloud services. 

By providing a clear and comprehensive view of these dependencies, organizations can improve the reliability and performance of their cloud-based systems, and better plan for future growth and development. Additionally, dependency mapping can help organizations identify potential points of failure and take steps to mitigate risks and ensure the continued availability of their critical systems.

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