Microsoft to sell channel tool to customers

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Microsoft to sell channel tool to customers
Output from the new Azure Cost Management for partners tool.

Microsoft has given cloud service providers a new tool to manage Azure costs – but flagged it will also sell it to customers.

The new service is called “Azure Cost Management for partners” and went live yesterday.

Microsoft’s pitch for the product, voiced by Microsoft’s senior program manager Aparna Gopalakrishnan, is that “As a partner, you play a critical role in successful planning and managing long-term cloud implementations for your customers.”

“While the cloud grants the flexibility to scale the cloud infrastructure to the changing needs, it does become challenging to control the spend when cloud costs can fluctuate dramatically with demand,” Gopalakrishnan.

Which is why Microsoft has given its channel this new tool, “to help you track and control cloud cost, prevent overspending and increase predictability for your cloud costs.”

Which is standard Microsoft these days: the company expects you to make money selling services around Azure and tools like this are a part of its plan to help the channel do so.

But Azure Cost Management for partners (CRN’s italics) will in future also be sold to customers.

“We will launch Azure Cost Management at retail rates for customers who are not on the Microsoft Customer Agreement and are supported by CSP partners,” says the announcement of the new service.

Or in other words, a product for partners will also be sold to customers.

The reference to the Microsoft Customer Agreement (MGA) is important because the new tool is not for everyone: you’ll need to be a paid-up CSP and have onboarded customers to MGA to make it work.

You’ll also need to wrap your brain around Microsoft’s complex system of “billing scopes” and hold either Global admin or Admin agent roles on your clients’ Azure rigs.

And then there’s the 65 different fields you’ll need to understand in Microsoft’s Azure usage detail files and Cost Management APIs.

But once you do that, Microsoft promises you’ll gain the power to:

  • Understand invoiced costs and associate the costs to the customer, subscriptions, resource groups, and services.
  • Get an intuitive view of Azure costs in cost analysis with capabilities to analyze costs by customer, subscription, resource group, resource, meter, service, and many other dimensions.
  • Set up notifications and automation using programmatic budgets and alerts when costs exceed budgets.
  • Enable the Azure Resource Manager policy that provides customer access to Cost Management data. Customers can then view consumption cost data for their subscriptions using pay-as-you-go rates.

Most importantly, the tool will also let you see the Partner Earned Credit that Microsoft pays to partners when they shift Azure on its behalf.

Microsoft’s promised there’s more to come: this service is billed as “This is the first of the periodic updates to enable cost management support for partners that enables partners to understand, analyze, dissect and manage cost across all their customers and invoices.”

Future enhancements will include:

  • Cost recommendation and optimisation suggestions
  • Showback features that enable partners to charge a markup on consumption costs are also being planned for 2020.
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