As a managed service provider, it can feel like a constant battle to differentiate yourself from other providers. Customers won’t just accept that you are the best; they have to know it. They need to know you provide the best, most trustworthy, and reliable services. That means that you should know this as well. You have to answer these questions for your customers before they ask – and that can be very challenging.
Fortunately, Microsoft has a product made just for you that can help elevate your services to the next level. Azure Lighthouse, released this summer, can help you provide that extra “wow” factor to your customers.
What is Azure Lighthouse?
Azure Lighthouse is available to any MSP that goes through Azure New Commerce. In short but technical terms, it is a dedicated resource manager – specifically an Azure Resource Manager that allows customers to delegate permissions. But what does that really mean? To understand, let’s look at how Azure was managed before Azure Lighthouse came to be.
Azure management before Lighthouse
To manage Azure before Azure Lighthouse, you needed separate credentials to manage each customer account. When managing multiple customers, as is MSP standard practice, you would have to switch between all these different credentials every time.
Obviously, this presented some difficulties. Logging in and out takes time and resources, and keeping up with many different customer logins can be a job in itself, not to mention a security risk (how are we keeping up with different customer logins? Is someone writing it down on a notepad so they don’t forget? What if that notepad got lost? Etc., etc.)
After Azure Lighthouse
Azure Lighthouse enables you, with your customers’ permission, to manage parts of their environment with your credentials. This lets you maintain the same credentials and login for multiple customers, saving time and increasing security. While this is its main function, Lighthouse also comes with some other beneficial features.
Other Azure Lighthouse features
Single pane of glass management
A “My customers” page in the Azure Portal allows you to view multiple customers at once. Visibility is increased for your customers as well, as the corresponding “service provider” page lets them see and manage their service provider access.
Resource Manager templates
With Lighthouse, you can set up templates for standard processes like on-boarding that will apply to all your customers. This will allow you to perform management tasks quickly and easily.
With Lighthouse, you can offer your services to your customers. You can choose to make a plan public to all your customers, or private to just some. You can also publish the service publically in the Azure Marketplace. This lets you promote more customized services and easily offer products to your customers in whatever way makes the most sense for your company.
Like the services, you can make managed applications available via an internal catalog or publicly in the Azure Marketplace. Resources deploy to a resource group managed by the app publisher. The publisher will also specify the solution’s cost.
How Azure Lighthouse can benefit MSPs
Lists of features are great, but how can those features truly benefit you and your company? Sometimes it can be difficult to discern, but with Azure Lighthouse, it is clear to see how much this can help give you a competitive advantage.
You’ll increase customer transparency and trust with Lighthouse as they will see your actions and manage multiple partners in a single viewing pane.
When you create automatic processes for on-boarding, you’ll save time to grow your customer base easily. You can also reach customers through Azure Marketplace, Azure APIs, Azure Portal, and Azure Resource Manager, and under whatever licensing channels your customer chooses.
In addition to eliminating all those Excel documents and notebooks with all your customer logins, Azure Lighthouse offers two other security benefits:
- You’ll get increased visibility and transparency through logs and alerts in the customer interface.
- You can protect not only your unique management IP but your customer data as well.
Reduced barriers to services
With managed applications, you can reduce technological barriers to your services. Your customers will not need expertise in cloud infrastructure to use them and don’t need to worry about making mistakes, updating, maintaining, or servicing these applications.
The feature stack in Azure Lighthouse makes it simple to perform routine management tasks.
Before Lighthouse, if you had a set of standard security policies for your customers, you could not implement these as a group. You had to log into each customer’s account separately and manually set the processes for each one. Lighthouse allows you to apply a standard set of security policies to large groups of customers at once, saving time and reducing errors.
With Lighthouse, you can take action on an update management event across all customers – no longer having to monitor patching status inside each tenant.
Beyond the Azure Lighthouse portal
Lighthouse’s benefits stretch beyond just Azure Portal. With it, developers can create scripts to manage all aspects of a customer’s environment using all of Azure’s management capabilities, like RestAPI, CPL, and Powershell.
And the best benefit of all? Azure Lighthouse is free. You can access all these benefits with no additional charge for the Lighthouse service. Contact us today to learn how to take full advantage of this new feature.