Some MSPs with in-house dev teams can consider themselves ISVs (Independent Software Vendors). This post talks about the benefits of Azure Lighthouse for ISVs. Windows Azure lets ISVs publish their cloud software on the Azure Marketplace and monetize from offering services to help their customers operate it. Many companies using cloud services lack the in-house expertise to optimize their specific cloud services’ deployment, configuration, management, and reporting.  Azure Lighthouse allows ISVs to upsell managed services on top of their software. As the developer of a piece of software, you are likely to be the world’s leading expert in making it run as efficiently as possible. ISVs have been able to offer managed services through Azure for some time, but one of their major challenges was supporting every customer who subscribed to their service efficiently.  In the past, the ISV’s service administrator would have to log in and manage dozens, perhaps hundreds, or even thousands of individual accounts. The administrative overhead alone added significant costs, which would often be passed down to the end-users. Azure Lighthouse has provided a solution to allow ISV to centrally manage tasks for all of their tenants from a single interface, which will be detailed throughout this blog.  For more information about Azure Lighthouse, check out the Altaro blog series about the Azure Lighthouse solutions, its foundational technologies using ADRM and AAD, Azure integration, and the go-to-market strategy.

Azure Lighthouse Benefits to Independent Software Developers (ISVs)

Azure Lighthouse brings a multitude of benefits to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), significantly enhancing their operational capabilities, market reach, and customer service. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the advantages: Streamlined Onboarding and Access Control  Previously, the onboarding process for software and managed services was tedious, often involving prolonged email exchanges to secure the correct permissions. Azure Lighthouse revolutionizes this process by allowing ISVs to specify precisely which of the customer’s resource groups contain the software that will need access.  With over 70 different types of roles available, ISVs can use role-based access control (RBAC) to determine the minimum access necessary for their team to perform operations effectively. This streamlined approach not only enhances the efficiency of onboarding new customers but also sets a positive tone for initial interactions, fostering trust and satisfaction from the get-go. Enhanced Operational Efficiency and Service Standardization Centralized management provided by Azure Lighthouse enables ISVs to scale their operational efficiency, standardize services, automate operations, and increase security and compliance. This unified management is accessible through the Azure Portal GUI or scripting with Azure PowerShell or Azure APIs.  Such centralization allows for the management of resources across multiple customer accounts, making it easier to handle repetitive tasks and focus on enhancing managed offerings, adding new core competencies, and expanding services. Moreover, these capabilities are provided by Microsoft Azure at no additional cost, though the consumed cloud resources are still billed to the ISV or their customer. Security and Intellectual Property Protection  With Azure Lighthouse, ISVs can maintain a secure environment for their and their customers’ intellectual property. Delegated access ensures that ISVs can manage customer resources without exposing any proprietary scripts or templates. This not only protects the ISVs’ intellectual property but also assures customers about the integrity and confidentiality of their resources. Security enhancements from Azure Lighthouse help maintain a robust service offering, retaining customers by ensuring that operations are secure and compliant. Moreover, this added security allows ISVs to focus more on adding value through their services, potentially maximizing profits or offering cost savings to customers. Operational Efficiency through Automation  Azure Lighthouse enables ISVs to automate repetitive tasks such as patching software. Through the GUI or scripts, ISVs can programmatically perform tasks against thousands of resources at once if they are managed by Azure Resource Manager (ARM).  This includes reporting, alerting, querying, servicing, security updates, or even deploying new services. For instance, an ISV can run a global query to identify all customer VMs running their software that need updates or repairs. This level of automation and control allows ISVs to efficiently maintain their software across various customer environments, enhancing service quality and customer satisfaction. Azure Lighthouse offers ISVs new operational efficiencies, enhanced security, and streamlined processes, allowing them to focus on innovation and growth while ensuring a secure, efficient, and customer-friendly service delivery. The multitude of benefits provided by Azure Lighthouse positions it as a game-changer in the realm of cloud services, particularly for those involved in providing managed services and software solutions.

Azure Lighthouse Benefits to the Customers of ISVs

Azure Lighthouse offers substantial benefits to the customers of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), particularly enhancing the ease of integrating third-party software and managing cloud services. Here’s how it impacts the customers: Simplified Integration and Management  Many Azure customers, especially developers and those from smaller organizations, find the task of integrating third-party software daunting and potentially risky. Azure Lighthouse alleviates these concerns by simplifying the onboarding process using Azure Delegated Resource Manager (ADRM) technology. It transparently assigns management rights to the ISV, streamlining the process of software deployment and management.  Customers, now tenants of the ISV, can review and tweak permissions as needed, enjoying an easy setup while maintaining control. The Azure Marketplace further simplifies this by allowing customers to acquire cloud software and associated services from trusted providers, much like any app store. Enhanced Transparency and Control  Customers gain unparalleled transparency and control over their resources with Azure Lighthouse. Detailed logging and auditing provide insight into every action the ISV takes on their resources, ensuring accountability. Isolation between tenants guarantees that actions an ISV performs on one do not affect others, safeguarding against unauthorized changes.  Despite the delegated management, customers retain full control over their budget and billing, with the freedom to provide their own licenses, be billed directly for services, or purchase services through the Azure Marketplace. All these aspects are managed and visible through ARM, allowing customers to easily navigate to the Service Providers Page and view the subscriptions and services connected to their account. Streamlined Onboarding and Permissions  The onboarding process is significantly streamlined with Azure Lighthouse. Customers no longer need to navigate complex permission settings or worry about giving excessive access to their resources. They can simply review the permissions needed for the ISV to operate the new software.  For those with more advanced needs, configuring specific access from the 70+ Azure user roles to each resource is straightforward, allowing for granular control over who has access to what. This ease of managing permissions not only saves time but also ensures that the software is integrated and managed securely and efficiently. Budget and Billing Autonomy  Azure Lighthouse empowers customers to maintain autonomy over their budget and billing aspects. They can choose to provide their licenses, directly handle billing for ISV services, or opt for services through the Azure Marketplace.  This flexibility ensures that they can align the services with their financial and operational strategies. Furthermore, the visibility provided by the Service Providers Page allows customers to monitor connected services and subscriptions effectively, ensuring they are always in control of their expenditures and service arrangements.

Wrap Up

Ultimately, Azure Lighthouse provides a better management experience for ISVs and their customers. Developers can upsell their software by also including deployment and support services. It easily plugs into existing programs and solutions, so now ISVs can spend more time with their customers and less time managing credentials. If you are an ISV that is going to publish its managed services through Azure Lighthouse, make sure that you check out the blog post on the go-to-market strategy so you can learn the best practices to stand out from the crowd.