Managing Microsoft Azure in the Provide™ portal

The ProvideTM portal enables customers to manage their own Microsoft Azure tenants and subscriptions. The portal's My Azure feature includes:

  • Azure dashboard - a centralised launchpad for all your Azure requirements
  • Monitor and Forecast Spend - Formerly 'Azure Usage', this is a graphical presentation of the current month-to-date and forecast expenditure for a selected Azure subscription, together with a more detailed breakdown.
  • Historical monthly Azure expenditure presentations.
  • Request Azure Resources
  • Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates)
  • Links to the following,
    • Microsoft's Azure portal
    • Azure Advisor
    • Azure Health
    • Azure Monitor
    • Azure Policy & Compliance
    • CloudHealth® by vmware®
    • Microsoft's Role Based Access Control

This article shows how to:

 

Assign Required User Permissions

You can easily control which users in your organisation can request new Azure resources by assigning the relevant permissions. The ability to amend a user's access is only available to your company's Provide Administrators.

There are three options for Provide Azure access:

  • Azure - This grants access to the My Azure Dashboard, including the Monitor and Forecast Spend section.
  • Request Azure Resources - This adds the 'Request Azure Resources' tile to the Azure Dashboard, pre-approving the user to request one of Cloud Direct's teams to create a new Azure resource.
  • Deploy ARM Templates - this adds the 'Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates)' tile to the Azure Dashboard. This allows the user to automatically deploy Azure resources using 'infrastructure as code', in the form of Azure Resource Manager templates.

Your company's Primary Contact and Provide Administrators have access to all Azure functions by default.

To grant an existing Provide user access to Azure functions:

  1. Open an internet browser and enter the following URL, https://provide.clouddirect.net.

The Cloud Direct Provide™ portal LOGIN page appears.

  1. Enter your Email address and Password, then click Sign in.

The portal opens.

  1. In the top right-hand corner of the screen, click MY ACCOUNT and, from the dropdown options, click My Contacts. A list of all your contacts will appear.

  1. Click the 'Edit User' button on the far-right hand side of the contact. The Amend Contact popup will open.

  1. Select the required Provide Azure access and click 'Amend Contact' to save your changes.


Access My Azure

To access My Azure in the ProvideTM portal, proceed as follows.

  1. Open an internet browser and enter the following URL, https://provide.clouddirect.net.

The Cloud Direct Provide™ portal LOGIN page appears.

  1. Enter your Email address and Password, then click Sign in.

The portal opens.

  1. You now have two options:
    1. On the homepage dashboard, click the My Azure tile.

  1. In the top right-hand corner of the screen, click MY ACCOUNT and, from the dropdown options, click My Azure.

  1. The Azure Dashboard page opens.

 

Navigate the Azure Dashboard

The Azure Dashboard is a centralised launchpad for all your Azure requirements, from viewing your usage and spend history, to deploying new resources, to managing the security and health of your company's cloud operations. This is the first page you see when you navigate to 'My Azure'.

Each function has its own tile along with a short description which will pop up when the tile is hovered over.

The following options (from right to left, top to bottom of the dashboard) can all be navigated to by simply clicking on the tile:

  1. Monitor & Forecast Spend (formerly Azure Usage) - View your monthly Azure spend. See Monitor and Forecast Spend for details.
  2. Azure Advisor* - A free service that analyses your Azure usage and provides recommendations on how to optimise your Azure resources to reduce costs, boost performance, strengthen security and improve stability.
  3. Azure Health* - Provides advisories, service issues and planned maintenance notifications.
  4. Azure Monitor* - Maximize the availability and performance of your applications and services by delivering a comprehensive solution for collecting, analyzing, and acting on telemetry from your cloud and on-premises environments.
  5. Azure Policy and Compliance* - Allows you to view your Azure Policy and Compliance definitions.
  6. Azure Portal* - View the Azure Portal.
  7. CloudHealth®* - Links to the CloudHealth® portal, which provides Cloud Computing data analysis, helping customers to report on costs, project future spends and plan their business models. Please note this is a chargeable service; contact your Account Manager for further details.
  8. Request Azure Resources - Raise a request for Cloud Direct to create new Azure resources for you. See Request Azure Resources for details.
  9. Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates) - Deploy new resources to your Azure subscription using predefined templates in basic or advanced mode. See Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates) for details.

Those options with a '*' by their name open a new window outside of ProvideTM.

 

Monitor and Forecast Spend

The 'Monitor & Forecast Spend' section can be accessed via the Azure Dashboard. 

When first loaded, the Monitor & Forecast Spend display comprises a horizontal menu bar. The horizontal menu bar has multiple buttons which allow you to control what data is displayed and when - nothing will start loading until you ask it to.

  1. The first blue button shows the Tenant picker. If you only have one Tenant in Azure, this will be pre-selected for you. If you have multiple tenants, this dropdown will show all the Tenants associated with your Provide account.

  1. The second blue button allows you to pick the type of data you wish to view.

  1. Azure Plan - Monthly Usage data for subscriptions on the new Azure Plan.
  2. Microsoft Azure - Monthly usage data for subscriptions on classic Microsoft Azure, and historical usage data for subscriptions that have since moved to the new Azure Plan.
  3. Reserved Instances - Details of any Reserved Instances linked to your Tenant. No further selections are required if this option is chosen, so you can immediately click the 'Load' Button.

  1. Software Subscriptions - Details of any Software Subscriptions linked to your Tenant. No further selections are required if this option is chosen, so you can immediately click the 'Load' Button.

If your subscriptions have not yet been moved to the new Azure Plan, you will only see the Microsoft Azure option. 

  1. The third blue button is the subscription picker. All Subscriptions under your selected Tenant are selectable - both the Subscription Name and ID are shown for ease of identification.

  1. The fourth blue button is the Month picker. This enables you to select which month of data you wish to view.

  1. The green button is the 'Load' button. None of your selections will begin to load until this button is selected.

  1. The final blue button is the 'Quick Links' button. This allows you to access the same options as displayed on the Azure Dashboard without returning to the previous page.

In addition to this, there is also a link to Microsoft's Role Based Access Control. This opens the currently selected tenant's Azure Dashboard on the Access Control page. From here you can manage who has access to Azure resources, what they can do with those resources, and what areas they have access to.

  1. At the far right-hand end of the menu bar, there is a Help icon. This will open a pop-up containing additional information about the usage data displayed.

Once you have clicked the 'Load' button and started loading your required data, you may decide you wish to change the filters or realise you have made an incorrect selection. Rather than waiting for the no longer required data to load, you can instead click the 'Cancel' button to start the process again.

View Azure Monthly Usage Data

Once you have made your data selections and clicked the 'Load' button, Provide will start loading your chosen Azure spend information. This will consist of:

  1. A graph of Azure spend for the selected month - see View current month Azure spend and forecast and View historical Azure spend for details.
  2. Details of resource, service, meter and location usage (available for Azure Plan subscriptions only).

  1. A detailed breakdown of resources.

 

View current month Azure spend and forecast

When viewing your Azure spend for the current month, a portion of your spend will be forecasted rather than being based on actual usage. The graph displays cumulative spending in two colours; blue indicates the actual Month-to-date, while red indicates the spend Forecast for the rest of the month. The same colours are used for the cumulative totals shown to the right of the graph.

The forecasted estimate is based on actual usage data gathered from Microsoft, which is then pro-rated to a full month's estimated usage. Due to limitations of the data available from Microsoft, sometimes the actual usage data shown on the graph may be a few days behind today's date.

You can hover over the daily data points on the graph to see what either the actual or forecasted cumulative spend was on each day. If you hover over today's data point you will see both an actual and forecasted spend value.

The graph will show full calendar months for Azure Plan subscriptions. However, for Microsoft Azure, the reported monthly usage period is from the 2nd day of each month up to and including the 1st day of the following month and cannot be changed.

 

View historical Azure spend

When viewing your Azure spend for previous months, you will only see actual spend. You may notice a small difference to your actual invoiced service charge for the same period due to timing and rounding discrepancies.

You can hover over the daily data points on the graph to see what the actual cumulative spend was on each day.

The graph will show full calendar months for Azure Plan subscriptions. However, for Microsoft Azure, the reported monthly usage period is from the 2nd day of each month up to and including the 1st day of the following month and cannot be changed.

 

Request Azure Resources

The 'Request Azure Resources' section can be accessed via the Azure Dashboard. This feature allows you to easily raise a request for Cloud Direct to handle the creation of often-requested items such as new Azure subscriptions, Virtual Machines, databases and storage accounts. Any of your users who have the Request Azure Resources permission can click this tile to open a form containing a selection of resource types.

To request new Azure Resources:

  1. Click the 'Request Azure Resources' tile. The 'New Azure Resource Request' form should open.

  1. Select the resource type required. The Description box of the form will be populated with guidelines of required information.

  1. If applicable, next select which Tenant and Subscription the new resource should be applied to.

  1. Using the prompts generate by your choice of resource type, complete the Description box of the form. If you are not sure about the options available for the different prompts, click the 'Additional Info' button.

The 'Additional Info' button will only be displayed if information is available. It will open a new window, taking you to Microsoft help information.

  1. Click the 'Submit' button. A ticket will be generated automatically, with the number displayed for your reference.

  1. Once the request has been submitted, you will receive update via the normal ticket communication methods.

 

Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates)

The 'Deploy Azure Resources (ARM Templates)' section can be accessed via the Azure Dashboard. This feature enables automated deployment of Azure resources using 'infrastructure as code', in the form of Azure Resource Manager templates. These are predefined files, written in declarative syntax (JSON), which let you state what you intend to deploy without having to write the sequence of programming commands to create it. You just select which resources to deploy, and the properties for those resources, and Resource Manager takes care of the orchestration of any interdependent resources so that everything is deployed in the correct order. This allows repeatable, consistent results throughout the development lifecycle.

Any of your users who have the Deploy ARM Templates permission can click this tile to open a form containing a selection of resource types. 

There are two different ways to make use of this section - Basic and Advanced. The Basic view is loaded by default and can be switched to Advanced using the 'Advanced View' button.

 

Basic View

The Basic view consists of a list of commonly selected templates, pre-configured for you by Cloud Direct for ease of use.

To deploy a resource via the Basic view:

  1. Identify the template you wish to deploy. This can be achieved by using the search box - this searches the Type, Template name and Description fields.

  1. Click the 'Deploy to Azure' button for your chosen template. This will open a new tab.

  1. The new page loaded will be in your Azure portal. This will allow you to review and edit any fields before creating your new resource.

Advanced View

The Advanced allows you to view and export the JSON files which make up the ARM templates. This allows developers and IT operations staff to copy and customise and code as required.

The advanced view is organised in a directory structure, with each template having its own folder containing a README.md file and one or more JSON files. Clicking on the README.md file will open a description of the template, along with Deploy to Azure and Visualise buttons. Clicking on a JSON file will open the code in a popup window from where it can be cut & pasted into an editor.

To deploy a resource via the Advanced view:

  1. Switch to the Advanced View by clicking the 'Advanced View' button.

  1. Navigate to the folder for the ARM template you wish to deploy. Please note that some folders have a multi-layer directory underneath them, but the search function will only find matches at the current directory level.

  1. When you open the chosen folder, you can select the README.md file or one of the JSON files.

  1. Click on the README.me file to see more information about the template, and to see links to deploy and/or visualise it.

  1. Click on the JSON files to open a popup containing the code. This can then be copy and pasted into an editor.