For the last 2 years my team has been working with a partner from the Bay Area called Cloud Cruiser – and the results of this partnership are going to benefit a lot of enterprises.

We partnered with Cloud Cruiser for a really important reason: The technology developed by this team enables a fully integrated, hybrid cloud-based, financial management solution – something that is a critical need for any organization building its business in the cloud.

Cloud Cruiser has done some pioneering work in the cloud-based financial management category. Their technology encompasses a suite of solutions that enterprises have previously had to build from scratch (with varying degrees of success), or piece together from a variety of different 3rd party apps. These solutions include multi-tenant cloud billing for hosters, showback/chargeback for enterprise, and advanced decision support analytics like customer analysis, demand forecasting, and P&L management.

The Cloud Cruiser team is so excited to share this technology that they’ve decided to deliver it at a very economical price, i.e. free. 

I think that this partnership is a big win for IT pros and IT leaders for several reasons.

First, our work with Cloud Cruiser has created an integrated solution for enterprises and hosters that lets them manage both the operational and financial aspects of their cloud from the Windows Azure portal. As IT services become more commoditized, the ability to fully understand these financial elements, and make business decisions based on cost, becomes absolutely critical. With cost information directly available within the Windows Azure portal, our customers have the financial insight they need to make their business even more profitable in the cloud.

This solution is also a no-cost, low-friction entry point for IT pros looking for financial management tools. Cloud Cruiser Express installs automatically within Windows Azure Pack in less than 10 minutes, and the product provides two complementary portal experiences for customers (one for Windows Azure portal and the other for Cloud Cruiser).

The portal experience is designed for quick access to tenant cost information, as well as showback, chargeback, and multi-tenant cloud billing from within the portal. Additional financial management capabilities are accessible through the Cloud Cruiser portal, including a full suite of standard reports, service pricing capabilities, and proactive cost controls – as seen in the video below.

Another great element to consider is the completeness of this solution; Cloud Cruiser Express is comprehensive right out-of-the-box. It offers integrated showback, chargeback, and billing for your Windows Azure environment very quickly, and the solution easily scales as your business grows. It’s a fast and easy way to start seeing ROI from your financial analytics.

Cloud-based financial management is an area that Microsoft takes very seriously, and our work with Cloud Cruiser emphasizes the value we place on this functionality. It should also underscore the confidence your organization can have in hosting these important assets in a secure, cloud-based environment.

To get started with Cloud Cruiser Express, there are two simple steps:

  1. Install Windows Azure Pack, which includes the Cloud Cruiser Express extension by default
  2. Install the Cloud Cruiser Express backend, which sets up your default Windows Azure operating environment

To make this process really simple, the Cloud Cruiser team has created this 3-minute video for detailing the installation process:

Also, for more detail about how to maximize this technology, I recommend checking out the Cloud Cruiser Express for Windows Azure Pack webinar hosted by Cloud Cruiser and Microsoft on Oct. 23 at 10:00am PST.

You can read more about how Cloud Cruiser integrates with Windows Azure Pack or System Center here. That link comes complete with white papers and demo videos – more than enough to get you up to “Expert” status in time for the webinar.