January 2017 Newsletter

Wish you a Very Happy New Year 2017!

We have delivered some awesome features through last year enabling Hybrid Cloud scenarios, starting from integrations with top Cloud and Virtualization platforms, Backup service, to taking care of some basics like Role Based Access Control (RBAC), Consistent experience, Bulk Provisioning and Customer Signup and approval workflows. All with full self-service and extensible automation support, which reduces IT support and management cost, making the ROI very attractive. Summary of available features and what is coming soon in this new year:

VConnect: Usage & Billing:

VConnect for Windows Azure Pack

Summary of VConnect Features Shipped in 2016

The VConnect platform for Windows Azure Pack delivered many new cloud integrations and innovative features for Service Providers and Enterprises in the year 2016.  Some of the innovations delivered include: Role Based Access Control (RBAC), IT Process Automation with Operations Templates, IT Support Automation with Wizard driven Custom Commands, System Center, VMware vCenter, AWS, Azure Platform support, Inline Backup as a Service with Veaam and fine grained control for Administrators with various extensibility points and available customizations.

Here is the complete list:

  • Yearly Licensing Model
    • VConnect can now be licensed in Yearly Subscription based licensing model, apart from the Perpetual license model. A Subscription-based licensing model enables SMB Enterprises and start up Hosting Service Providers to align the licensing costs as part of their annual budgets.
  • New integrations: Tenants can provision and manage across all platforms using a single-pane of glass experience
    • Azure Public Cloud
    • Amazon Web Services
    • System Center / VMM
    • Azure Stack (TP2 Beta)
  • Group Resources and Provide Fine Grained Access Control
    • Use Resource Groups to manage VMs as groups, and provide fine grain Access Control
    • Tenants can group and manage a set of VMs as Resource Groups (e.g., Test, Prod, Staging)
    • Tenant Administrators can use Resource Group Access Control to enable fine grain access (e.g., Owner, Contributor, Reader) for Subscription Co-Administrators by integrating with Active Directory groups
  • Build Multiple VMs using Resource Templates
    • Admins and Tenants can use Resource Template creation wizard to define virtual machine roles and associate VM templates
    • Deploy Resource Templates to create multiple VMs on the same cloud or different clouds, in a single shot
  • Custom Commands Library
    • Custom commands to Add Disk, Expand Disk and Delete Disk are available out-of-the-box
    • Import more custom commands from a central library hosted in GitHub
    • Import or export custom commands as .zip archives from or to a local file share
  • Backups improvements
    • Inline support for backing up VMs from the VM management UI using Veeam
    • Make Backup and Restore Service available as a separate Resource Provider in WAP Portals
    • Enable Retention Point Quota Settings
  • VM Management Improvements: Hot Add and more
    • Inline validation of VM names during VM creation from Tenant portal
    • Option to display available Public and Private IP addresses to connect via RDP
    • Hot Add: Increase CPU core size and/or RAM memory without having to shut down the VM!
    • Control enabling of Hot Add feature at two levels – 1) VM Templates UI; 2) Plan Settings UI
    • View a summary of the Disk Storage devices in the VM Configure UI
    • Specify the Network Name and Network Adapter Type during VM creation, if allowed by the Plan
    • Details of all network adapters are made available in the Devices grid in Configure tab of Tenant portal
  • Admin improvements: Reuse Guest OS specs, configure networks / switches, and more
    • Improved UI navigation to administer VM templates, networks, and custom commands within the context of a Connection
    • Param Specs: Admins can create Param Specs from existing VM Templates, and apply to other VM Templates
    • Improvements to DataStore selection logic
    • Control Disk Storage quota for tenants in the Plan Settings UI
    • Configure Network Name and Type in the connection Networks tab, and thereby map to a Plan
    • Configure WINS entries as part of IP Pool management or using custom Operations Templates
    • Configure the # of cores per socket by adding a NumCoresPerSocket parameter to VM Templates
    • Force delete VMs that are not allowed to be deleted from Tenant portal
    • Make VM root folder configurable at Plan level
    • Configure the folder in which VMs will be placed in vCenter, rather than the default root folder
    • Specify the path to the folder containing custom Operations templates, in the Connection Wizard, enabling VMs to be provisioned based on custom templates instead of the default templates
  • VM Deployments Enhancements
    • Admins can force retry of any deployment step from Admin Portal
    • Tenants get visibility into VM Deployment workflow operation steps
  • Security
    • Encryption of all secure data in VConnect DB
  • Other improvements:
    • Performance improvements: e.g., Disconnecting the Session in the PowerShell scripts: this addresses a potential memory leak issue wherein several idle sessions were not getting cleared in the VConnect API Service machine.
    • VM Controls expose reduced functionality when VMware Tools out of date
    • Integrated Windows Authentication Support for SQL Server
    • WAP UR10 support
    • Several bug fix improvements


VConnect Features Coming Soon (early 2017)

  • Monthly Licensing Model
    • Enable SMBs and HSPs to budget the licensing costs as an ongoing operational expense rather than a capital expense.
  • Backups
    • CommVault Backups - a new integration that will provide similar set of capabilities to the existing Veeam Backup integration
    • Enable VConnect connections to multiple Veeam / CommVault endpoints
    • Improved status display for job creation and deletion requests
  • New Tools for Admins and Tenants
    • VConnect Admin Windows App: to quickly edit Operations templates (.JSON), test the flow and deploy to WAP environment
    • VConnect CLI: new interface to enable Provisioning and Management from Command Line and deployment Scripts
  • Bulk-provisioning of VMs
    • Tenants can use a grid-based UI to trigger bulk provisioning of VMs of different types and deployment specs
  • Approval Workflows
    • Tenants can enable approval workflows for VM provisioning and de-provisioning for co-admin users based on assigned resource group roles
  • Auto Policy Management
    • Apply policies for VM management (e.g., auto-shutdown, expiration, etc.)
  • Other improvements
    • Support for dependent fields in VM templates enables admins to create conditional drop-down fields in the VM provisioning UI
    • Display CPU and Memory details for Compute Instances in the Resource Template wizard
    • Enable disk usage records generation for VConnect VMs
  • More in the works...

Usage & Billing for Windows Azure Pack

Summary of Usage & Billing Features Shipped in 2016

The Usage and Billing solution for Windows Azure Pack based Cloud Cost Charge Back and Show Back delivered many practical features for Service Providers and Enterprises in the year 2016.  Notable features include: Customer sign-up and approval workflow, Payment Gateway integration, custom branded web Market Place with unlimited options to deliver unique Offers, reliable Agent services, near real-time metrics aggregation, costing and reporting, Invoice improvements, various Alert Rules and automation options.

Here is the complete list:

  • Yearly and Monthly Licensing Models
    • Usage and Billing can now be licensed in Yearly and Monthly Subscription based licensing models, apart from the Perpetual license model.
    • Subscription licensing models enable SMB Enterprises and start up Hosting Service Providers to budget the licensing costs as an ongoing operational expense rather than a capital expense.
  • User Signup, Approval, and Profile Management
    • Tenant user signup request workflow enabling Admins to approve/ reject requests, and receive related email notifications
    • Manage basic and billing profiles for Tenant users
  • Payment Gateway Integration
    • Tenant users can make invoice payments with their credit cards easily from the Tenant portal using CyberSource Payment Gateway integration
  • Marketplace
    • Custom Marketplace catalog to richly advertise plans and add-ons to Tenants
  • Promotions
    • Ability to run Promotions and include credits at Plan level, metered resource level, and User level
  • Fixed Fee Plans and Add-ons
    • Enable monthly flat-rate billing for subscriptions as against actual consumption
    • Enable monthly flat-rate billing for add-ons that can be subscribed as part of existing WAP Subscriptions
  • Usage Overview and History improvements
    • Included additional details for Add-ons and Subscriptions in the Usage Overview tab and Download CSV files
  • Invoice improvements
    • Notify admins and tenants when invoice payments are due, overdue, or paid
    • UI layout improvements for viewing and editing Invoice line items
  • Admin Process improvements
    • Improved Setup/install process to automate several steps
    • Grouped Settings into logical tabs to manage them separately
    • Quick Start tab improvements enable ease of first-time configuration of the administration settings.
    • Metered Pricing Wizard: Unit Multiplier and Custom Formula evaluation improvements; Sample Calculator improvements.
    • Ability to hide Usage & Billing Tenant extension for co-administrators
    • Improved visibility into WAP Usage pipeline health status
    • Shortcut option to reset usage data and trigger re-aggregation
  • Custom Usage Collectors
    • New usage collectors available for metering and tracking consumption of System Center VM disk usage and VM networks
  • WHMCS integration improvements
    • Tenant user credits can now be synced between WHMCS and Usage & Billing in WAP
  • Automation Extensibility
    • Extend core feature set by executing custom PowerShell scripts to automate business processes upon Subscription creation, deletion, etc.
  • Security
    • Encryption of all secure data in Usage & Billing SQL database
  • Other improvements:
    • Integrated Windows Authentication Support for SQL Server
    • WAP UR10 support


Usage & Billing Features Coming Soon (early 2017)

  • Pricing and Marketplace improvements
    • Minimum monthly fee for Pay-as-you-go Plans
    • Minimum commitment time frame for Plans
    • Support for maximum purchase limit for Add-ons
    • Ability to control display order of Marketplace items
  • Preventing Subscription and Add-on deletions based on quota usage of VMs and VM Networks
  • Email notifications when Tenants subscribe and un-subscribe to Plans and Add-Ons
  • Automation of license renewals for monthly and yearly licenses
  • Ability to configure low credits check at Plan and User levels
  • Controlling display of taxes in the Marketplace, Usage, and Invoices
  • WHMCS bug fix improvements related to automatic sync of user credits and client funds
  • Usage Overview and CSV export improvements
    • Including add-on created time in Usage overview
    • Including Subscription creation date in Admin download CSV file
  • More in the works...