Software for Microsoft Azure management plays an important role in reducing the cost of deploying Virtual Machines (VMs) on Microsoft´s cloud computing platform. By being able to schedule temporary stop times for non-production VMs, organizations can save time and money and avoid committing to a long-term Enterprise Agreement that may be inappropriate within a few months.

Although it is possible for organizations to develop their own scheduling scripts, the development resources required – and the possibility that organizations may have to pay for a reserved public IP address – can make this option counterproductive. Furthermore, there are additional features on software for Microsoft Azure management that cannot be replicated by scheduling scripts.

These additional features include a single view of multiple Azure accounts, VM types and pricing options, so that administrators can manage accounts with greater efficiency. Administrators can also create permission tiers with Microsoft Azure management software to increase accountability and enable future budget and capacity planning.

However, not all Microsoft Azure management software is the same. Some only allow you to deploy new roles to Microsoft Azure, whereas others may not have the versatility to manage accounts located in different regions. In the same way as developing scheduling scripts can be counterproductive, selecting an inappropriate software solution for your needs can also cost more money that it saves.

This is why we invite organizations to take advantage of a thirty-day free trial of ParkMyCloud. ParkMyCloud is a versatile and lightweight Microsoft Azure management solution that reduce the cost of deploying non-production VMs on Microsoft´s cloud computing platform by up to 60%. Not only does our free trial give organizations the opportunity to try the software for Microsoft Azure management in their own environments, but they also keep the money they save.

To find out more about our free trial offer, contact us today.

Azure vs. AWS 2018: Is Azure really surpassing AWS?

Azure vs. AWS 2017: what’s the deal? There’s been a lot of speculation lately that Microsoft Azure may be outpacing Amazon Web Services (AWS). We think that’s interesting and therefore worth taking a look at these claims. After all, AWS has been dominating the public cloud market for so long, maybe the media is just bored of that story, and ready for an underdog to jump ahead. So let’s take a look.

Is Azure catching up to AWS?

You may have seen some of the recent reports on both Microsoft and Amazon’s recent quarterly earnings. There have certainly been some provocative headlines:

With Amazon and Microsoft reporting their quarterly earnings at the same time, this is a good time to analyze the numbers and see where they stand in relation to one another. Upon closer inspection, here’s what the recent quarterly earnings reports showed:

  • AWS revenue grew 43% in the quarter, with quarterly earnings of $3.66 billion, annualized to $14.6 billion. Sales and earnings exceeded expectations given by analyst estimates. In the immediate wake of Amazon’s report, the stock went up.
  • Microsoft reported that its Intelligent Cloud division grew 11% to $6.8 billion, and that the Commercial Cloud division has a annualized run rate of $15.2 billion. These reported earnings only met analyst expectations, and therefore the stock fell by nearly 2 percent within hours.
  • We think it’s important to note when it comes to Microsoft’s reported earnings the Commercial Cloud business includes Office 365, not just Azure. We have never fully understood why the Office 365 business has been bundled in with Commercial Cloud, given that it’s a very different business than the IAAS services of Amazon and Google to which it is often compared.
  • Microsoft stated that Azure’s growth rate was 93%, without providing an actual revenue number. Once again, we find this lack of lack of earnings clarity somewhat problematic.

So is Azure bigger than AWS?

Well, currently no. There is little evidence of Azure surpassing AWS, aside from a small research study which pales in comparison to a clear majority of data stating otherwise.

But is Azure growing quickly?

Yes. In this regard, it’s important to consider what factors are at play in Azure’s growth, and whether they hold any weight as far as surpassing Azure outpacing AWS in the future.

Where is Azure actually gaining ground?

Now let’s take a look at what is driving Azure’s growth, and where Azure is gaining ground.

First of all, as companies grow beyond dipping their toes in the water of public cloud, they become more interested in secondary options for diversity and different business cases. Just from our own conversations, we’re finding that more and more AWS users are using Azure as a secondary option. While users might be interested to see what Azure can offer them in comparison, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that it will ultimately surpass AWS.

Take, for example, the results of a research survey released by data analytics provider Sumo Logic and conducted by UBM Research. According to the survey of 230 IT professionals from 500+ employees, Azure actually beat AWS as the preferred primary cloud provider, taking the lead by a 10 percent margin, with 66 percent of participants preferring Azure as opposed to the 55 percent who relied in AWS.

This research is significant because it’s the first time that survey data on customer preferences has reported Azure taking a lead over AWS. However, the data also revealed that a significant number of enterprises are using more than one cloud provider. While Azure and AWS both take the lead, there is certainly an overlap in participants who use both, in addition to other up-and-coming providers.

Second, enterprises have been committed to a variety of Microsoft products for years. According to UBM Research survey data, over 50 percent of participants who preferred Azure as their primary cloud provider were coming from large enterprises with 10,000+ employees. This makes sense considering that Microsoft has a foothold in terms of relationships and enterprise agreements with these larger organizations and are able to cross-sell Azure.

Third, Azure has a strong base in Europe, where more users report using Azure rather than AWS as their primary provider. In a 451 Research Survey with 700 participants considered to be “IT decision makers,” AWS topped the list among all participants as the preferred provider among 39 percent of participants. While Azure saw an increase in users, it still landed in second place overall at 35 percent. However, among the European participants only, Azure took the top spot, with 43.7 percent naming Azure as their provider, and 32 percent sticking with AWS.

Why does the Azure vs. AWS debate matter?

Why does the Azure vs. AWS 2017 debate matter to, when choosing a new or secondary cloud provider? Well… in terms of market performance, it probably doesn’t. As always, the specific needs of your business are going to be what’s important.

One thing is for certain: the public cloud is growing and it’s here to stay. Let’s not forget that both Google and IBM both have growing public cloud offerings too (and Google is looking to expand their enterprise market this year.) All of this competition drives innovation, and therefore IaaS and PaaS offerings – and perhaps, better pricing.

For the customer, the basic questions remain the same when evaluating public cloud providers:

  • How understandable are the public cloud offerings to new customers?
  • How much do the products cost?
  • Are there adequate customer support and growth options?
  • Are there useful surrounding management tools?
  • Will our DevOps processes translate to these offerings?
  • Can the PaaS offerings speed time-to-value and simplify things sufficiently, to drive stickiness?
  • What security measures does the cloud provider have in place?

Based upon the evidence we think it’s pretty clear that AWS is still the leader among public cloud providers.

We’ll continue to track the AWS vs. Azure comparison, and as the companies’ offerings and pricing options grow and change – we’ll be interested to see how this evaluation changes in 2018.

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Why Your CFO is About to Tell You to Control Azure Costs

As more and more companies adopt Microsoft Azure as their public cloud, the need to control Azure costs becomes ever more important. As IT, Development and Operations grow their usage of Azure cloud assets, Finance is catching up. Your CFO has seen the bill, and says, “I thought cloud was supposed to be cheaper. So why is this so high?”

Azure Spend Growing

azure spend growingIt’s no secret that overall Azure spend is rising rapidly. Azure is the fastest-growing cloud provider, both from adoption by new customers, and growth within accounts of existing customers. Many users of other clouds, such as AWS, are also adopting Azure as a secondary option for diversity.

Here’s the thing: as this spend grows, so too does wasted spend. And customers know this. But as one ParkMyCloud user told us, “As we started to dive into it, we found that a large part of our spend is simply on waste. We didn’t have visibility and policies in place. Our developers aren’t properly cleaning up after themselves, and resources aren’t being tracked, so it’s easy for them to be left running. It’s something we want to change, but it takes time and energy to do that.”

So it’s no wonder that IT, Development, and Operations teams are being tapped by CFOs left and right to reduce costs, as the Azure bill becomes a growing line item in the budget.

Control Azure Costs Before Your CFO Makes You

There are a few things you can do to be proactive and control Azure costs before your CFO comes bursting through your office door. Here are some starting points:

  • Control your view –  the first step toward change is awareness, so use an Azure dashboard to view all of your resources in one, consolidated place. We’ve heard from ParkMyCloud users, upon getting a single view of all of their resources in the ParkMyCloud dashboard, that they found VMs they didn’t even know were running.
  • Control your processes – talk with your team and set clear guidelines around provisioning appropriately sized VMs, stopping non-production VMs when they are not needed, and governing existing VMs (for example, whose responsibility is it to make sure each team is only running the resources they actually need?)
  • Control Azure costs – there are a few simple actions you can take to get your actual Azure costs in control. Here are some starting points:
    • “Right size” your VMs – make sure you aren’t choosing larger capacity/memory/CPU than you need
    • Set automatic schedules so your non-production VMs don’t run when you don’t need them (free with ParkMyCloud’s core version – try it out)
    • Set a spending limit on your Azure account. You can do a hard cutoff that will turn off your VMs once you hit the limit, or simply sign up to receive email alerts when you approach or hit the spending limit.

So, automate your operations today and make your CFO happy. Bring your Azure spend down before it becomes a problem!

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Growth = Wasted Spend on Microsoft Azure

If you read any cloud or tech blogs, you’ve probably seen the latest financials that show that Microsoft Azure is growing – and that it’s currently the fastest-growing cloud provider. However, this growth means an ever-increasing amount of wasted spend on Microsoft Azure resources.

Overall, Azure’s growth is exciting for customers who have bought into the Microsoft stack — more momentum means quickly evolving product lines, balanced prices, and improving cloud services.

However, dominant competitor Amazon Web Services (AWS) has had more time to feel and subsequently address growing pains. That means that AWS users have more options available to them to address certain concerns that come with using public cloud. For example, managing costs.

Managing Costs: a Major Concern Among Cloud Users

How much are Azure users worrying about managing their cloud costs? According to RightScale’s 2017 State of the Cloud report, managing costs is a huge, top-of-mind challenge. While it’s a top-3 concern for all cloud users, for mature cloud users, managing costs is the number one concern.

Rightscale-Cloud-Priorities

The primary goal of cost management efforts is to optimize costs – in other words, to eliminate wasted spend. Most cloud customers would agree that they have some amount of spend wasted, whether that’s from leaving resources on when not needed, oversized resources, orphaned storage volumes, etc. However, estimating the amount of wasted spend is a problem.

RightScale found that customers consistently underestimate how much they are wasting:

RightscaleWastedCloudSpend

So when we’re looking at Microsoft Azure specifically – how much spend is wasted?

Wasted Spend on Microsoft Azure

We’ve talked about overall cloud waste before. So let’s apply those numbers to Azure specifically.

And that’s only a portion of the waste – it doesn’t even address oversized resources, orphaned volume storage, etc. Many of these problems are well-addressed in AWS, but the Azure support market is still catching up.

The good news is, this $0.9 billion portion of wasted spend is easy enough to solve. All Microsoft Azure users need to do is schedule the “lights to turn off” when they’re not home – in other words, schedule non-production resources to turn off when no one is using them. Try it now with ParkMyCloud!

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Watch: Introducing ParkMyCloud for Microsoft – Reduce Azure Costs by 60% or more

Last week, we held a web session introducing ParkMyCloud for Microsoft Azure. We’re excited to open up the ParkMyCloud platform to Azure customers, so you can get the same savings that AWS customers have been enjoying for the past year and a half.

Watch the video here, and use the guide below to skip ahead to the parts of the session that interest you:

    • 00:28 What is ParkMyCloud?
      • WHAT: Simple, single-purpose SaaS tool.
      • HOW: Automatically schedule on/off times for idle servers.
      • WHY: Optimize cloud services spending.
      • ROI: Save 60% or more; 6 week payback.
    • 01:13 How ParkMyCloud Works
      • •Discover & Manage cloud computing resources
      • •Analyze & Recommend resources to ‘Park’
      • •Policies automatically schedule resources for off/on
      • •SAVE $$$!!!
    • 01:48 ParkMyCloud vs. AWS cost savings options
    • 02:15 How much has ParkMyCloud saved our customers?
    • 02:39 The Azure World
      • Your Azure Account (Active Directory Tenant ID)
      • Your Azure Subscription (Subscription ID)
      • Your Application (Application ID)
      • Service Principal for Your Application
      • Limited Active Directory Role for Service Principal
      • Your Azure Cloud Resource Groups and Resources
    • 03:47 Azure Credentials
      • Azure limited access role credential is analogous to an AWS IAM Role + policies
      • Requires a lot more information:
        • Subscription ID ~ analogous to an AWS account
        • Tenant ID ~ the ID of our Azure AD instance
        • App ID ~ the ID of the ParkMyCloud App in AD
        • Password (a.k.a., Client Secret) ~ You set this
    • 04:39 Four Azure CLI Approaches to creating Azure credentials
      • Windows Powershell – manual or scripted
      • Unix azure-cli – manual or scripted

 

  • 05:42 ParkMyCloud Demo

 

    • 05:51 PMC Dashboard
    • 06:05 Adding an Azure credential to ParkMyCloud
    • 07:29 Walkthrough of the ParkMyCloud dashboard
    • 08:27 How to attach a schedule to an instance
    • 09:18 How to create a custom schedule
    • 10:51 Your savings projections in ParkMyCloud
    • 11:51 How to see information about your individual instances
    • 12:34 Teams and Roles in ParkMyCloud – containers for organizing users and resources with role-based access control (RBAC)
    • 14:22 Logical Groups – the ParkMyCloud construct for organizing resources for group scheduling and sequencing
    • 16:51 Policy engine – apply schedules in an automated fashion
      • 17:02 Never Park policy – protect production instances from parking
      • 17:26 Creating a new policy for scheduling
      • 19:44 Always Off Schedule – use to park for the maximum amount of time. Useful when users are across time zones.
      • 22:09 Audience Question – using the policy engine for sorting to teams, “snooze only” for schedule enforcement, and others.
    • 23:37 Actual Savings number
    • 24:04 Quick filters for viewing the dashboard
    • 24:32 Recommendations – how to edit and add recommendations, and parking resources that are recommended to park.
    • 25:00 How to download reports in ParkMyCloud
    • 25:12 Audit Log
    • 25:33 Pricing – by instance count
  • Audience Questions
    • 26:45 Is there any functionality for AWS that doesn’t translate to Azure?
    • 28:59 Do you plan to support other clouds besides AWS and Azure?
    • 29:42 How are the projected savings and actual savings numbers calculated?

 

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Announcing ParkMyCloud Microsoft Azure Scheduling!

Now Supporting Microsoft Azure Scheduling

ParkMyCloud microsoft azure schedulingWe are excited to share that ParkMyCloud now supports Microsoft Azure scheduling!

For the past 18 months since our launch, Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers have been using ParkMyCloud to manage their compute resources by turning them off when not needed (called “instance scheduling”) – saving a total of $1,749,279.06 so far – and counting!

Now, that same “Nest for the Cloud” capability is available to Microsoft Azure customers.

Plus, if you use both AWS and Azure, you can manage and govern your accounts together in a single ParkMyCloud dashboard.

Why We’re Excited

Being able to control costs with Microsoft Azure scheduling is our most frequently-requested capability – so we’re excited to share this with our customers and new users.

The size of cloud waste is enormous, with up to $5.6 billion wasted every year on computing time that no one is using.  While much of this wasted spend is on AWS resources, Azure is certainly the second-biggest player in the public cloud market. We look forward to helping Azure customers eliminate wasted spend. Learn more in our official press release.

How Does ParkMyCloud Work on Azure?

Just like AWS, it’s simple:

  1. Discover: Connect with Azure to discover your virtual machines (VMs)
  2. Schedule: Schedule on/off times for the desired VMs
  3. Smile: Reduce your costs by up to 60%

If you’re new to ParkMyCloud, check out these additional resources:

See it In Action

Join us next Thursday, February 2 at 2 PM Eastern for a web session highlighting the Azure release – plus, learn how to use our automated policy engine for automated cost savings. Sign up here.

Try it Now

Azure users, try it now now with a 30-day free trial of ParkMyCloud.

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Triple the Clouds, Triple the Fun: What’s Coming in ParkMyCloud in 2017

triple the clouds: google, aws, azureLast year was a great year for the ParkMyCloud product and our customers – check out all the features and functionality we added throughout 2016.

As we launch into 2017, we’re looking to bring our public cloud users even more ways to save on their cloud spend. Here’s a preview of some of the more impactful features and functionality we’ll be releasing throughout the year.

New Cloud Service Providers

Thus far, ParkMyCloud has supported customers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) alone. (No small fries here; about 30% of public cloud infrastructure is in AWS). However, in two weeks, we’re expanding by releasing support for Microsoft Azure. You will be able to manage AWS and Azure resources side-by-side in a single dashboard.

In the following months, Google Compute Engine support will follow.

New Ways to Save

In addition to the new cloud service providers, we’re also adding support for additional services and new ways to save on your cloud infrastructure.

We’ll start the expansion from compute services by parking databases (Amazon RDS and others). We will also offer resource rightsizing, so you can ensure that you’re not wasting money on resources that are larger than you need them to be.

Adding to the ParkMyCloud Experience

We’ll also be enhancing the ParkMyCloud experience with surrounding features, starting with single sign-on (SSO) using SAML 2.0 coming in February.

Following that, we’ll add external notifications leveraging AWS SNS. And for the quants out there we’ll be adding a data analytics layer. We’re also excited to share that we’ll have native mobile support for iOS and Android by the summer.

And more!

Of course, as a small and agile company, this list is not complete! We’re happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions about what you’d like to see in ParkMyCloud this year – so what’s at the top of your list?

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Cloud applications in 2017: How long until full cloud takes over?

clouds-take-overWe were recently asked about our vision for cloud applications in 2017: are we still seeing ported versions of legacy on-premises Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications? Or are most applications – even outside of pure-play startups – being built and hosted in the cloud? In other words, how long until full cloud takes over?

Actually, it already has.

Native cloud applications like ours – an 18-month-old startup – that have been built, tested, and run in the cloud are no longer the fringe innovators, but the norm. In fact, outside of a printer, we have no infrastructure at all – we are BYOD, and every application we use for development, marketing, sales and finance is a SaaS-based, cloud-hosted solution that we either use for free or rent and pay month-to-month or year-to-year.

This reliance on 100% cloud solutions has allowed us to rapidly scale our entire business – the cloud, and cloud-based SaaS solutions, have provided ParkMyCloud with the agility, speed, and cost control needed to manage to an OpEx model rather than a CapEx model.

We were able to rapidly prototype our technology, test it, iterate, and leverage “beta” communities in the cloud in a matter of months. We even outsource our development efforts, and seamlessly run agile remotely using the cloud and cloud-based tools. For a peek into the process, here’s a sampling of software development tools we use in a cloud-shrouded nutshell:

  • Amazon Web Service (AWS) for development, test, QA and production
  • VersionOne for agile management
  • Skype for scrum and video communication
  • GitHub for version control
  • Zoho for customer support
  • LogEntries for log integration
  • Confluence for documentation
  • Swagger for API management

And I could repeat the same for our Marketing, Sales, and Finance process and tools – the cloud has truly taken over.

We don’t know if these applications are built and run in the public cloud or the private cloud – that’s irrelevant to us, what’s important is they solve a problem, are easily accessible, and meet our price point. We do know that these are all cloud-based SaaS offerings – we don’t use any on premise, traditional software.

The net net is that many companies are just like ParkMyCloud. The question is no longer about how us newbies will enter the world – the question is, how fast will legacy enterprises migrate ALL their applications to cloud? And where will they strike the balance between public and private cloud?

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How to Protect Your Production Servers (The “Never Park” Policy)

The other day, we talked to a prospective ParkMyCloud customer about how to protect his production servers. He had just started a trial of ParkMyCloud, and before he added additional users to his account, he had an important question: How can I keep my production servers safe from my end users accidentally parking them?

It’s a great question! Before you start shutting down your non-production resources for cost savings, it’s a good idea to protect your mission-critical production resources from being parked, which could wreak havoc on your applications — while some resources can be stopped, or “parked”, during off-hours, there are, of course, others that need to run 24×7.

Luckily, with ParkMyCloud’s policy engine, it’s straightforward and easy to protect your production resources. All you need to do is apply a “never park” policy so those resources cannot be scheduled or manually started/stopped.

Only users with the SuperAdmin role can create and manage policies, so if you’re the primary account holder, you don’t have to worry about end users changing these policies once they’re set up. Your production resources will be safe from being parked, so you can start parking and saving away.

Here’s how to create a policy for yourself. (If you don’t have an account yet, you can start a ParkMyCloud free trial and follow along.)

From the ParkMyCloud console:

  1. policy-engineGo to the left sidebar and select “Policies” and “Create Policy”.
  2. Name your policy – let’s call it ‘Never Park’
  3. Input the criteria to identify your production resources  – usually this will be by name or tag.
  4. Select “Restrict” as the action.
  5. From the Restrict dropdown menu, select “Never Park”. For this option, users can neither attach schedules nor manually start/stop resources.

You can also use policies to assign instances to teams based on their tags or names. If you set up your teams in advance, this is a simple way to automatically control which users have access to which instances.  So in this example you could set up a “Production Team” and have all your production instances sort directly to this team. And as an admin you are able to create the permissions for who has access to this team, adding another layer of protection.

Save your policy to protect your production resources from being parked and you’re all set!

There are a few other reasons you may want to use policies on your resources. For example, you can use policies to automatically attach or detach schedules to instances, again based on credential, location, name, type, or tag. So, for example, you could set all of your instances tagged “development” to have the “Up M-F, 8 am – 5 pm” schedule automatically applied.

You can also restrict resources with parking schedules to “snooze only”. That is, end users can only snooze the attached schedule, they cannot edit, detach or change it.

The policy engine is a powerful feature that can help you automate many of the common actions within ParkMyCloud, ensuring that you maximize your cost savings with the least amount of effort.

If you have any additional questions about using policies, please comment below or contact us!

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