The third party is Cloud Cruiser, maker of the billing analytics and chargeback system, Cloud Cruiser Enterprise Edition. Cloud Cruiser isn't associated exclusively with Windows Azure cloud services. On the contrary, its system supports supplying billing information through HP Cloud Service Automation 3.1, VMware's vCloud Director and Amazon Web Services' operations API. It also supports supplying billing information with OpenStack-based clouds, including Rackspace, and cloud infrastructure built using Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud.
By building use of Cloud Cruiser into Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, Microsoft is gaining an edge in supporting hybrid cloud operations in its Windows Server customer base. Chargeback is a key component enabling cloud computing and tying responsibility for use to business users.
Microsoft made the announcement Tuesday at the Microsoft Management Summit going on this week at the Mandalay Bay conference center in Las Vegas.
[Want to learn more about why you want to gain visibility into and forecast cloud bills? See Cloud's Big Caveat: Runaway Costs. ]
The addition of Cloud Cruiser gives customers interested in hybrid cloud computing "the ability to deploy on-premises, in a hosted cloud and in Windows Azure," said Brian Hillger, director of server and tools marketing. If companies are striving for efficient operations with a combination of on-premises and public cloud computing, adding Cloud Cruiser can increase the effectiveness of such a combination, he said.
Part of the issue with hybrid cloud operation is company employees gain the ability to self provision virtual servers. IT management and business management may or may not be aware of what they're doing and what the likely bill is going to be. Gaining visibility into usage and the likely bill that will result is one of the functions of Cloud Cruiser.
"When customers spin up services across a diverse computing environment, costs can rocket out of control quickly," said Nick van der Zweep, Cloud Cruiser VP of products. By automating chargeback, IT managers can inform business users of the expense of the use associated with their activity and bill their respective departments, if that's the way the company has set up use of Azure. "The more self-service that public and private computing resources become, the more critical is the need for rich cost transparency and financial accountability," van der Zweep said.