Azure Costs: Feature Update for CSP Support

Today we’re very excited to announce some great feature updates for our Cloud Solution Providers platform. All the updates focus on more accuracy and productivity, when working on a daily basis with your customers.  

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The following list describes all features in detail and gives you a brief overview on how to use them:  

Defining Cloud Solution Provider Margins allows the CSP to differentiate between the pricing Microsoft offers to CSPs and the price the CSP offers for the customer. Just define the different pricing tier per customer individually

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Generate Cloud Solution Provider Filters allows to hide services which are not charged for the customer. Only services targeted by the CSP filter will appear in the customer portal. azure costs - azure cloud cost optimization made easy 2017-07-21 07-36-13
Offer a customer spending portal beside a reseller spending portal allows your customers to manage the spendings by their own. This portal gives your customers 100% the same features incl. team management as if they would sign up to Azure Costs with an enterprise edition directly and an EA contract. azure costs - azure cloud cost optimization made easy 2017-07-21 07-36-48

Interested in the new feature?
Getting started with Azure Costs for CSPs is very easy, just visit our new portal just for Cloud Solution providers and enroll into the CSP program as described above. To become part of the public preview of the CSP support an existing enterprise plan is required.

Any questions, wishes or ideas? Try our feedback portal or drop a mail to help@azure-costs.com.

 

Azure – The ultimative Service Guide

Microsoft is delivers day by day new, improved and updated services in the Microsoft Azure Cloud. For new customers and even for experienced Azure engineers it’s sometimes hard to find the right service for a problem. It’s possible to solve the same problem with different services and often it depends on the expected customer base.

Over the years the Microsoft Azure Poster team developed a very useful view on the Azure infrastructure which helps to understand better when to use which service.

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This cool and helpful poster should be available in every team working with the Microsoft Azure Cloud. It’s available for free here.

In addition I had a helping hand during the last weeks and months from Ricardo Niepel , an evangelist for Microsoft Azure. He is also the author of the new interactive Azure Platform overview here. This makes the decision which service to use much easier and it helps everybody to not loose track when Microsoft delivers new services regularly.

Hey node developers, switch to .NET Core – now!

Several years ago I started building a bigger project as a Software as a Service application. Beside all the different technical requirements, being able to work directly on my MacBook Pro without starting virtual machines, was a big wish. At this time a tool chain based on Node.js, Express, NPM and WebStorm was available. Over the years building backend services with Node.js, and this means with JavaScript, felt like rapid prototyping. Getting started is very fast and lightweight but when the project grows compile time features like a strong type system are missing. Year over year I did reviews how to get esp. the beauty of C# and the powerful compiler infrastructure of .NET back.

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In the last month Microsoft released Visual Studio for Mac and with it the investments into .NET Core increased. Building backend services in Visual Studio for Mac based on .NET Core and ASP.NET Core including the out of the box support in Azure App Services is definitely what I was looking for.

Because of that I decided to give it a spin. After a couple weeks working with the framework I can say it was the right decision because of the following key reasons:

  • Full managed and type safe environment based on the powerful C# compiler
  • Broad ecosystem for components similar to NPM via NuGet
  • Ability to convert runtime errors in compile time errors 
  • Hosting the results on Linux, Docker Containers or just Azure App Services
  • ASP.NET Core comes with out of the box easy to use Dependency Injection system
  • ASP.NET Core learned and steeled the best things from the node + express chain
  • C# Attribute and Extension-Classes are unbeatable to beatify your code 

And last but not least everything works well on my MacBook Pro without the need of a single virtual machines – Thanks Microsoft for letting me keep the platform I love!

Azure Costs: Public Preview CSP Support

Today we’re very excited to announce the start of the public preview for Cloud Solution Providers.  After several weeks and months of continous improvements in the azure costs platform, we now start the public preview phase of the CSP support.  

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The great new CSP portal gives you access to the spendings your customers are generating. There are a couple of use cases we would like to point out:  

Enroll into the CSP program:
When visiting our new CSP portal the system will require enrolling into the CSP program. You can do this with an existing Azure Costs account or in case you would like to differentiate between internal spendings and customer spendings, just use an additional account!

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Register Accounts:
Microsoft requires every CSP to sign into the CSP program for every geographical region separately. As an internal reseller you will have accounts for USD, EUR or AUD and several more. Azure Costs allows you to register every single CSP account, to track costs in different currencies and countries separately.
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Activate Customers:
During the registration process Azure Costs imports all existing customers. This does not mean Azure Costs tracks spendings. If you would like to track spendings for a specific customer, activate this customer in the “New/Not-Activated Customers” widget. The spending information of every activated customer will be imported automatically.
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Interested in the new feature?
Getting started with Azure Costs for CSPs is very easy, just visit our new portal for Cloud Solution providers and enroll into the CSP program as described above. To become part of the public preview of the CSP support an existing enterprise plan is required.

Any questions, wishes or ideas? Try our feedback portal or drop a mail to help@azure-costs.com.

 

Git Deployment – Shallow Clone Support in Azure App Services – The missing piece

Azure App Services and the open source project KuduSync behind this great Azure Service is a huge time saver for agile teams. Especially DevOps teams will like the continuous deployment features.  Personally I focus a lot on the Git based deployment which enables you to roll back and forward in seconds whenever it is required. Beside that, it is possible to work with standard tools available on market to implement continuous deployment or integration.

Deployments - Microsoft Azure 2017-07-18 06-48-11

When I started working with Azure App Services building Node.js apps, I wrote a little node package called Azure Deploy. It allowed me to push changes as part of a build process directly into the Azure App Service. Originally, CodeShip was the service of choice for the build process but since I need to support Git Repositories beside GitHub, BitBucket and GitLabs, I migrated to Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and the integrated build platform.

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After several months and hundreds of deploys, which means hundreds of commits to the local git repository, it became a fairly complex and fat thing. This is normally not a problem but my Azure Deploy package clones the local git repository from Azure App Service to a temp directory and copies the build output over it. Last but not least it commits and pushes the changes back to Azure. The big repository took more than 4 minutes to clone so I was wondering if I can use Shallow Clone to get only the latest state of the repository.

This idea works well on Unix based git servers, on GitHub or even in Visual Studio Team Services as well. But when you try to clone a local Git Repository of Azure App Services via Shallow Clone option

git clone --depth 1 https://github.com/jquery/jquery.git jquery

it ends up with an error. The error and its background is also documented in the GitHub project of KuduSync here. So what to do now?

Another nice option of Azure App Services is the option to pull changes from a Git Repository instantly after a commit. This works well in VSTS, based on GitHooks but also with GitHub and a couple other platforms. It’s also possible to clone via shallow clone flag from these repositories which closes the loop. The final solution is to commit into a VSTS or GitHub hosted publishing repository which triggers a pull deployment in Azure App Services.

At the end this change reduced the whole deployment time from 5 up to 9 minutes, down to approx. 90 seconds. You can find the updated Azure Deploy component in the NPM registry here.

Azure Costs: Exporting data via API

Azure Costs now offers direct API access to integrate the processed and aggregated data directly in 3rd party applications like Qlik or Tableau. This option allows customers on an enterprise plan or higher to render or analyse the Azure Costs data in existing BI solutions.

Exporting data via API is very simple. Just follow the steps below:

  1. Register an application as trustee to control which data can be access from the 3rd party application in the team management view.

    ApiCredentials

  2. The application contains a client_id and a client_secret which can be used for the oAuth2 client credentials flow. Just issue a new security token at least every hour from the Azure Costs STS. We recommend to issue a token whenever you start a new transaction to ensure that permission changes are affective.

    curl -X POST -d “client_id={{YOUR CLIENT ID}}&client_secret={{YOUR CLIENT SECERT}}&grant_type=client_credentials” https://azure-costs.com/sts/issue/oauth/token

  3. Export the required report from the export api which returns the data in JSON format. Every single object describes one service including the quantity, costs and other meta information. The required teamId, contract number can be extracted from the URL of the Azure Costs dashboard

    curl -H “Authorization: Bearer {{ISSUED TOKEN}}” https:/api.azure-costs.com/api/v1/teams/{{teamId}}/contracts/{{contractId}}/reports/{{Year}}-{{Month}}/export?cache={{DATE-OF-THE-DAY}}

Interested in the new feature?
Try the new feature today by simply logging into your Azure Costs account. The feature is part of any enterprise plan.

Any questions, wishes or ideas? Try our feedback portal or drop a mail to help@azure-costs.com.

Azure Costs: Service Types and Categories

Today we’re very excited, to announce the release of our revised service types and service categories for azure costs. In the early days azure costs just supported the Service Type attribute. Together with our customers we identified the need of having a more efficient way to understand cost drives and spending spikes.
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The Service Type property now shows a more detailed type of the Azure Service. Virtual Machines report the selected pricing tier or size in that property . SQL databases are also shown now with the size of the chosen Azure SQL instance.
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In contrast to the Service Type, the Service Category property describes the service class in Azure, e.g. Azure App Services, Data Management which includes BigData and SQL Services or the classical Cloud Services.
The clear differentiation between this two properties should help to identify cost spikes faster and more reliable.

Interested in the new feature?
Try the new feature today by simply logging into your azure costs account. The feature is part of any plan.

Any questions, wishes or ideas? Try our feedback portal or drop a mail to help@azure-costs.com.