Cloud Cruiser Blog

May 22, 2017

Cloud Metrics That Matter: How to Deliver Better Reports with Azure Tags

By Deirdre Mahon  |  CMO and Head of Customer Success  |  @dbmahon



Optimized usage and spend of Azure is a coveted goal for most organizations fully embracing public cloud services.  It’s a hard thing to achieve and you can’t get there overnight.  We have seen all too often the gusto with which organizations adopt public cloud and after a few months or quarters, questions come up and from a variety of business functions.


The hard part is less to do with how developers and engineers are using Azure services. Let’s face it, learning how to use new tech services is “music to the ears” because it is career advancing and more interesting and exciting to boot.  Not only is it fast but for the most part, it works!  Most engineers and developers are experiential learners and there are ample ways to get up to speed on all things cloud, such as video training, blogs, forums, and knowledge sharing on numerous content sites.


Cloud usage challenges arise more from internal processes and deciding which metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track to better monitor and manage. For example, how does a finance person who has to approve charges from Microsoft know that those services were in fact A. used, B. the right ones in the first place, and C. the best value? Or more specifically, are we being diligent about turning on or off the services and have we closely examined if there is a less costly alternative?  The trouble with this set of questions from finance is that the individual must find the “offender” or user in the first place and then have a dialog or, at a minimum, digital conversation to understand what exactly is going on “behind the scenes.”  At that point, everyone can get on the same page and reviews and approvals go smoothly with zero interruption to the actual users of such services.


Don’t get me wrong.  There is absolutely no malicious intent (or at least 99.5%) of the time.  What’s at stake is the timeliness of the data, the completeness of the data and more importantly, the actionability of the data.  If the data presented to a finance or line of business owner is old, or lacking ownership and context, then you are completely in the dark.


So how do you make your cloud metrics and KPIs more relevant and meaningful to your business leaders? Looking specifically at Azure usage and spend, you need to start out by leveraging the data you receive from Microsoft and build from there. There are numerous things you can do to augment the data to make it more meaningful and relevant to your unique business use-case.  Azure is good at certain things.  They prescribe how you manage your account which is by Account structure and then subscription.  If you are already using Azure services, you know this and so you must have the right credentials to collect and manage the data for that particular set of subscription services, which ultimately roll up to the EA level.  You don’t have much wiggle room outside of this hierarchy but with the right tools to help you tag your data properly, you can cleanse and augment the data collected to give you richer, more meaningful insights and analytics.


That’s where Cloud Cruiser comes in.  With SmartTags™, your collected data can be cleansed and tailored to fit your own business structure.  You may want to manage an account by geographic region or BU or department (e.g. Sales) or perhaps by application or project team.  This is all doable by preparing the data and key metrics (or fields/dimensions) that are necessary to produce the reports and KPI’s you most care about. And what happens to your data when organizational changes occur, projects shift, or accounting codes are updated? SmartTags work retroactively on whatever data you want, automatically updating data to reflect your new business requirements.


To learn more about tagging strategies for your Azure data, view this on-demand webcast.