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Windows Server AppFabric Dashboard Page

You use the AppFabric Dashboard to monitor applications and services in Windows Server AppFabric. The AppFabric Dashboard provides a centralized gateway to view and manage the health of WF and WCF services deployed locally or to a server farm. It exposes real-time data from the Persistence database and historic data from the Monitoring database, and it allows you to “drill down” to examine instance and WCF Call metrics in greater detail. The structure of the AppFabric Dashboard and its supporting pages mimics the natural progression you follow when diagnosing and solving a problem with your .NET Framework 4 application. It is designed to give you summary information initially and then break that summary information down into categories of WF service instances and tracked WCF events. From the summary information you can use the supporting child pages to find specific instance information.

Open the AppFabric Dashboard page by clicking the AppFabric Dashboard icon within IIS Manager extensions in Windows Server AppFabric, which appears in IIS Manager as AppFabric. When the page loads you will most likely see a status action icon displayed immediately below the Applications and Services counters. It displays Gathering data… while the page gathers the data to display. In the lower right section of the screen you will see a repeating status bar moving from left to right as the data is fetched. If there is a problem while accessing the data, you will see a static icon message displaying Error(s) encountered above where the Gathering data… message was previously displayed.

After the information is gathered, it is grouped and displayed in three primary dashboard metric sections: Persisted WF Instances, WCF Call History, and WF Instance History.

In This Document

Dashboard Counter and Control Elements

Starting from the top right side of the middle pane, the number of applications and services at that selected scope are displayed within the Applications and Services counters.

The Dublin Dashboard

Applications and Services Counters

Element Description

Applications

Displays a count of applications in the current IIS Manager scope level.

noteNote
Web sites are considered applications and they are included in the count because they run under an application pool and can have services deployed directly at the site level.

Services

Displays a count of .NET Framework 4 WCF and WF services running at or under the current level. The count is a live link that invokes the Service page to enumerate the services filtered by IIS deployment scope (computer, site, or application).

Immediately below these two counters are the filter drop-down list controls for the selection of which computer metrics will be displayed or period of time for which the metrics should be displayed. These controls restrict the range of records that are displayed.

Filter Controls

Element Description

View drop-down list

View does not change which metrics are displayed, but only changes the scope from which the values are obtained. The scope in this instance is the number of computers that contribute to the displayed values.

Choose Local or All:

  • Local – Shows only metrics values that originated on the local computer.

  • All – Shows all available data for the selected scope, regardless of what computer processed the service invocations.

Time Period drop-down list

Constrains the values displayed on the AppFabric Dashboard to only those from the selected time period. You can either select a predefined time period or define your own by using the ”custom” option.

Dashboard Metrics Sections

Below the filter controls are the three detailed metrics sections: Persisted WF Instances Section, WCF Call History Section, and WF Instance Section. These sections display monitoring and tracking metrics for instances of .NET Framework 4 WCF and WF services. Only WF service instances use persistence, but tracked events apply to both WCF and WF services. Each of the three metrics tables share the following common user interface elements.

 

Element Description

Section Heading, located in the upper left of the shaded area at the top of a section.

Describes the main query focus of the section, for example Persisted WF Instances.

Sub-Heading, located immediately beneath the main section heading.

Displays the time period for the metrics. For example, “Last 24 hours” indicates that the metrics displayed are taken from the 24 hours preceding the most recent metrics refresh. “Live Summary” means that the metrics are a summary of the present contents of the persistence database without regard to time period.

Summary Metric, located to the right of the Section Heading, in the shaded area at the top of a section.

Summary metrics provide an overview of key metrics, such as the number of WCF completed calls over a given period. The summary metric labels are links that open a query window when clicked. The queries are predefined. For example, clicking the Completed label in the WCF Call History section opens a query that shows the completed WCF calls for the selected time period.

Collapse/Expand Icon, located at the far right of the shaded area at the top of a section.

Click this icon to expand or collapse the section. When a section is collapsed, only the section heading and summary metrics are visible.

noteNote
You can expand or collapse a section by clicking anywhere in the shaded heading area, except on a summary metric. You do not have to click only the collapse/expand icon.

Expanded Area, the non-shaded area below the headings.

This area is split into three columns and holds up to three sets of metrics that break down the summary metrics to provide additional context. When these metrics are populated, each item is a hyperlink. You can click the link to open the associated enumeration page and show a detailed view for the item you clicked. If you hover the mouse pointer over a numeric metric value, a timestamp is displayed in a tooltip.

Summary Metrics and Expanded Area Metrics

It is important that you understand the relationship between Summary Metrics and Expanded Area Metrics (EAM), because this helps to understand the relationships of the numbers in the different counters in each metrics section. An EAM is simply a breakdown using different columns of the Summary Metrics values. The counter at the end of each EAM line is the number of instances of that service for the EAM column that it is under. For example, if an entry in the WCF Call History section under the Completed Calls EAM column has a “12” at the end of its entry, that means that service entry has experienced twelve (12) WCF completion calls for the bracketed time period.

Most of the EAMs map clearly to their parent summary metric. For example, in the Persisted WF Instances section, there are the Active, Idle, and Suspended summary metrics counters. Below those summary counters are corresponding EAMs named Active or Idle Instances and Suspended Instances. A similar summary of EAM mapping occurs for the WCF Call History section.  However, for the WF Instance History section, the mapping pattern from summary metrics to EAM columns is not as direct. Within the WF Instance History section it was determined that more detailed information was needed (to better assist in troubleshooting) for the Instances with Failures than for the Completions summary metric. Thus, there is no EAM column for the summary instance Completions metric, but two EAM columns exist (Instances with Failures - Grouped by Service and Instances with Failures - Grouped by Outcome) for the summary Failures metric.

Most of the EAMs display the “top (5)” services in each EAM category. When a “top (5)” EAM column displays a list of services, that list is always in descending order. For example, the Completed Calls EAM in the WCF Call History section displays the top five services with the most completed calls, and in descending order. In other cases, EAMs display metrics that break down summary metrics further, such as Errors (Grouped by common types) and Instance Failures (Grouped by Outcome).

After you can view data in an EAM column, you can click that service name link to go to the associated drilldown page. On that page, the Details pane at the bottom provides more details of what was displayed in the EAM and Summary metrics. For example, clicking a count in the WCF Call History section takes you to the corresponding Tracked Events drilldown page. You can obtain more information about a selected service entry, such as the name of the operation that the service instance called, by using the Details pane on this page. For more information about the three drilldown pages, see Persisted WF Instances Page, Tracked Events Page, and Tracked WF Instances Page.

Problem Isolation Using the Dashboard

You also need to understand at a high level how to use the summary and EAM metrics, the sections, and the individual enumeration pages to isolate a problem. You need to know how to use this data by itself and also how to combine it to discover the source of a problem. You can use the AppFabric Dashboard to see a quick and fundamental summary (metrics) of the health of your system. Then you can take those summary counters and drill down progressively by expanding each section to solve a problem. Next you find the appropriate section based upon the information you are trying to locate and view one or more EAM values. You can also consult a related EAM value in another section before you look for more information about a specific service instance in an enumeration page and its Details panes.

The following sequence of actions summarizes the most effective problem-solving approach:

  1. Summary Metrics - View a summary of problems.

  2. Expanded Area Metrics (EAM) - Discover key values that might help further isolate a problem.

  3. Individual Metrics Enumeration Pages (3) - Use the Details pane to obtain specific and critical problem-solving information.

Persisted WF Instances Metrics Section

This section describes the Persisted WF Instances section of the AppFabric Dashboard. You use this section to view ”live” workflow instance statistics from the Persistence database. It can draw data from several persistence databases, if the server or farm uses more than one persistence database for deployed services. Metrics are displayed only for instances that have persistence enabled, so the service must be configured to use persistence.

This section displays summary metrics, as described below, plus three columns of metrics for suspended instances.

Summary Metrics

The summary metrics are located in the shaded area at the top of the Persisted WF Instances section. The summary metrics show a count of active, idle, and suspended workflow instances for the selected view (all or local). Each of the summary metrics is a hyperlink that you can click to drill down into that metric. For example, if you click the Idle summary metric, the Persisted WF Instances Page opens to enumerate a list of all the running workflow instances that are presently in an idle state, in the current scope.

The following table describes the summary metrics for Persisted WF Instances.

 

Summary Metric Description

Active

Count of running WF-based instances that are currently in the Running (Active) state.

Idle

Count of running WF-based instances that are currently in the Running (Idle) state.

Suspended

Count of WF-based instances that have a Suspended status. This metric is useful for determining the health of your services. A large number of suspended instances can indicate internal or external errors associated with the instance’s parent service or application.

Expanded Area Metrics

The following table describes the expanded area metrics displayed in the columns in the expanded area. Columns display metrics on instances grouped by service and provide a more granular breakdown of the summary metrics. The EAM columns entitled Active or Idle Instances and Suspended Instances show the top five services with the highest number of active, idle, and suspended instances over the selected time period in descending order.

You can click a metric to open the Persisted WF Instances Page to obtain more details. A filter is automatically applied to show instances related to the application name you clicked. If you want to see all active instances grouped by service name, and not just the top five, you can click the Active summary metric name and then select Service from the Group by list to group the result set by service name. In this example the number of services displayed is potentially limited only by the value of the Maximum Items field in the query.

 

Grouped By Display Value

Active or Idle Instances, grouped by service (top 5)

Service virtual path and Web site, and service instance count. Displays the top five services in descending order with instances in the Running (Active) or Running (Idle) state.

Suspended Instances, grouped by service (top 5)

Service virtual path and Web site, and service instance count. Displays the top five services in descending order with instances in the Suspended state.

WCF Call History Metrics Section

The WCF Call History section displays historical statistics derived from WCF call events stored in one or more Monitoring databases. The displayed values are summaries of historical data from all the databases included in the current scope. If the current scope includes services that are configured to use different monitoring databases, then the values shown in the WCF Call History section include data contributed by all the databases in scope.

Like the other AppFabric Dashboard metrics sections, this section displays summary metrics and three columns of breakdown metrics that provide additional context.

Summary Metrics

The following table describes the summary metrics for WCF Call History.

 

Summary Metric Description

Completed

Total number of calls completed in the selected time period.

Throttle Hits

Total number of throttle hits that occurred in the selected time period.

When one of the main service throttle counters (MaxConcurrentCalls, MaxConcurrentInstances, or MaxConcurrentSessions) have been initially exceeded, the 201: MessageThrottleExceeded event is emitted.

When the spike of activity slows so that the current value of the throttle is at 70 percent of the current limit then a 224: MessageThrottleAtSeventyPercent event is emitted. This event is only emitted one time as the throttling activity is slowing down. If the current value averages around the 70 percent mark (e.g. 70, 69, 70, 71, 70, 69) only the first dip to 70 percent results in an event. After this event is emitted, any future occurrences of exceeding the throttle's limit will result in another emission of a 201: MessageThrottleExceeded event.

Errors

Total number of errors that occurred in the selected time period.

Expanded Area Metrics

The following table describes the expanded area metrics displayed in the columns in the expanded area. For the Completed Calls and the Service Exceptions EAM columns, the top five service instances for those categories are displayed in descending order. These two columns show the top five services with the highest number of calls or exceptions over the selected time period. For the Errors – Grouped by common types EAM column the data is shown associated with a service exception.

You can click on a count to open the Tracked Events Page to obtain more detailed information. A filter is automatically applied to show calls related to the service you clicked.

 

Metric Display Value

Completed Calls, Grouped by Service (top 5)

Service virtual path and Web site, count of WCF calls. Displays the top five services in descending order with instances with the most completed WCF calls.

Errors - Grouped by common types

Displays a breakdown of the number of errors by Service Exceptions and User Defined Errors. Service Exceptions are broken down by the common causes of Calls Failed and Calls Faulted. Additional issues, such as activation issues, can also contribute to the number of Service Exceptions which are not displayed in the breakdown of Service Exceptions.

Service Exceptions, Grouped by Service (top 5)

Service virtual path and Web site, count of WCF calls. Displays the top five services in descending order with instances with the most WCF service exceptions.

WF Instance History Metrics Section

The WF Instance History section displays historical statistics derived from tracked workflow instance events stored in one or more Monitoring databases. It can draw data from several monitoring databases, if the server or farm uses more than one monitoring database for services deployed at the selected scope.

Summary Metrics

The following table describes the summary metrics for WF Instance History.

 

Summary Metric Description

Activations

Count of instances that were started but that may or may not have completed during the selected time period.

Failures

Count of instances that experienced failures during the selected time period. An instance that experienced failures may still be able to complete if it was persisted and resumed.

Completions

Count of instances that completed during the selected time period.

Expanded Area Metrics

The following table lists the expanded area metrics visible in the WF Instance History section. For the Instance Activations and Instances with Failures EAM columns, the top five service instances for those categories are displayed in descending order. These two columns show the top five services with the highest number of successful and failed instance activations over the selected time period. For the Instances with Failures EAM column the data is shown associated with a grouping of the outcome.

You can click a service metric to open the Tracked WF Instances Page to obtain more detailed information. A filter is automatically applied to show calls related to the service you clicked.

 

Metric Description

Instance Activations, grouped by service (top 5)

Service virtual path and service instance count. Displays the top five workflow services in descending order with instances that were activated.

Instances with Failures, grouped by service (top 5)

Service virtual path and service instance count. Displays the top five workflow services in descending order with instances that experienced a failure.

Instances with Failures, grouped by outcome

Failures are grouped according to outcome: Recovered (experienced a failure but has since been resumed and/or completed) or Not Recovered (experienced a failure and has not yet completed). Includes a count of service instances for each outcome.

Dashboard Actions Pane

Along the right side of the AppFabric Dashboard page is the Actions pane. You use links within this pane to open the Persisted WF Instances, Tracked WF Instances, and Tracked Events pages. These actions take you to their respective enumeration pages.

noteNote
When you open the Persisted WF Instances, Tracked WF Instances, and Tracked Events pages they display all items for the currently selected scope and time period. After the page is open, you can refine the list of items displayed by using the query control grid on the page.

TipTip
The Persisted WF Instances and Tracked WF Instances pages described in the previous sentence are not the same as the Persisted WF Instances and Tracked WF Instances sections described in earlier sections in this document. The Persisted WF Instances and Tracked WF Instances sections are parts of the AppFabric Dashboard page. The Persisted WF Instances and Tracked WF Instances pages are stand-alone pages that provide more refined metrics on their respective instances.

 

Element Description

Refresh

Refreshes all the metrics displayed on the dashboard.

Persisted WF Instances

Opens the Persisted WF Instances Page, which enumerates the persisted WF instances. The query control shows all instances under the scope of the AppFabric Dashboard with the MAX field set to 50.

Tracked WF Instances

Opens the Tracked WF Instances Page, which enumerates the tracked WF instances. The query control shows all instances under the scope of the AppFabric Dashboard with the MAX field set to 50.

Tracked Events

Opens the Tracked Events Page, which enumerates the tracked events. The query control shows all tracked data under the scope of the AppFabric Dashboard with the MAX field set to 500.

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