Features Introduced in Versions 8.0 - 8.4
For details of What's New in specific releases, go to the Release Notes Archive.
A large number of enhancements to cloud expense management have been previously added. These include tracking and displaying public cloud software licensing information for the following deployed cloud resources
The Version 8.0 - 8.4 releases also added new AWS Reserved Instance Reports and support for billing tags, custom charges with additional line items and markups and discounts, international currencies, cost anomaly detection, daily cost zooming, and enhanced billing retrieval.
AWS Reserved Instance Reports
We've introduced two new reports to help you optimize your AWS EC2 reserved instance purchases for managing and governing your cloud costs.
- Reserved Instance Utilization report — Verifies that your resources are being utilized as forecast and track down any underutilized reservations. You can see usage costs for RIs and compare cost savings to on-demand instances.
- Reserved Instance Coverage report — Identifies instance hours that aren't covered by RIs, highlighting opportunities for savings. By identifying instance hours that are consistently running at on-demand rates and purchasing the appropriate new RIs, you can optimize your RI purchases for cost efficiency. This report is also useful to identify EC2 instances that aren't using RIs, so you can change or delete them.
Azure Hybrid Benefit and AWS Bring Your Own License
Commander Version 8.3 now tracks and displays public cloud software licensing information for the following deployed cloud resources:
- Azure VMs — You can view whether the Azure Hybrid Benefit is enabled or if it isn't applicable (as would be the case, for example, for Linux VMs).
- AWS EC2 instances — You can view the Tenancy model, number of cores, and Image ID used.
- Azure SQL databases — You can view whether the Azure Hybrid Benefit is enabled, the license model used, and more. The following types of Azure SQL databases are tracked: Azure SQL Databases, Azure Managed Instances, and Azure SQL VMs.
This information provides insights for which of your cloud resources are accruing costs for software licenses for MS Server and SQL Server, and which can take advantage of AWS Bring Your Own License (BYOL) and Azure Hybrid Benefits licensing models. For those cloud resources that are BYOL or Azure Hybrid Benefit eligible, you may be able to apply your license entitlements for Windows Server or SQL Server that you already have. By applying your license entitlements to those cloud resources you can reduce your monthly cloud expenditures.
The image below shows the Summary page for an Azure VM. It indicates that the Azure Hybrid Benefit is in use. In the Details section you can also see the number of virtual cores used, which is an important factor for license entitlements.
For more information, see Cloud Software License Costs.
Estimated costs for Azure resources updated for licensing
By default, an Estimated Annual Cost is provided for Windows VMs and Azure SQL databases deployed in Azure cloud accounts. However, to help you better realize your cloud costs, the estimated costs displayed for Windows VMs and Azure SQL databases are automatically adjusted according to whether the Azure Hybrid Benefit is enabled or not. If the Azure Hybrid Benefit is enabled, the resources should have lower costs because extra software licensing fees aren't accrued.
Note: The estimated cost displayed for a Windows VM or an Azure SQL database with the Azure Hybrid Benefit enabled presumes that you've applied an eligible license entitlement to the deployed resource through the Azure portal.
Azure Software License Report
You can use the Azure Software License Report to determine whether your deployed Azure VMs running Windows Server and your Azure SQL database instances are taking advantage of Azure Hybrid Benefits.
The Azure Software License Report shows which of your currently deployed Windows VMs and Azure SQL databases don't have the Azure Hybrid Benefit enabled. It also shows you the potential savings that you could realize if it's enabled and existing license entitlements are applied to those resources.
For more information, see Azure Software License Report.
Cloud software license searches on VMs
In Commander, a new Licensing filter group is provided, which you can use to perform custom searches on VMs for public cloud software licensing information.
In the following example, the configured search would display all of the Windows VMs that have the Azure Hybrid Benefit enabled for the location you select. Notice that the new Licensing group also includes Tenancy and Image Source filters, which are important for AWS BYOL.
For more information, see Performing Advanced Searches.
For convenience, the following saved searches for public cloud software licensing are also provided:
- Optimization: Azure Hybrid Benefit - Savings — This search finds all of the Windows VMs that have the Azure Hybrid Benefit enabled. These VMs will cost less when unused Microsoft Server license entitlements have been allocated to them.
- Optimization: Azure Hybrid Benefit - Potential Savings — This search finds all of the powered-on Windows VMs that don't currently have the Azure Hybrid Benefit enabled. These are the VMs that you can reduce costs for if you enable the Azure Hybrid Benefit and apply unused Microsoft Server license entitlements to them.
- Optimization: AWS BYOL - Savings — This search finds all Windows EC2 instances that don't use shared tenancy states and were deployed from AWS-provided images. These are Windows instances that can realize BYOL savings if you apply your existing license entitlements.
- Optimization: AWS BYOL - Potential Violations — This search finds all Windows EC2 instances with shared tenancy states that were deployed from non-AWS-provided images. This search identifies potential license violations as these are incorrectly deployed.
For more information, see Running and Scheduling Saved Searches.
Billing Tags are tags or labels that are applied to resources in your public cloud. They bring more flexibility to your cost analysis by allowing you to group and filter your cloud expenses in more detail. Commander now retrieves ALL billing tags, which you can use to filter expenses in Cost Analytics, the Service Portal Cost Dashboard, and the Cloud Billing Report. This provides full visibility and cost analysis specific to your reporting needs. You can also incorporate Billing Tags into formulas for additional line items, so you'll be able to filter for costs based on tags.
For Azure and GCP cloud accounts, tags (called labels in GCP) are assigned automatically by the cloud provider. For AWS cloud accounts, you must configure which tags should be transformed to billing records. For public cloud accounts, tags or labels are automatically imported when you retrieve billing data. For private clouds, Billing Tags are generated from custom attributes.
Note that billing tags will only be retrieved from version 8.1 and forward, unless billing records are reset. If you want to reset billing records, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on using Billing Tags in formulas for Additional Line Items, see Additional Line Items page.
With the new Additional Line Items features of the Cost Model wizard, you can set up fixed monthly or calculated daily costs such as extra maintenance or support fees.
The new Add Fixed Monthly Charge dialog lets you configure these additional charges for any public or private cloud environment.
To custom-design the daily additional fees, you can use the new formula-based feature to specify costs based on a range of input parameters. You can also control how long the charges will be applied and how they will appear in reports.
The Additional Line Items are accessed through the cost model configuration. This provides the ability to configure line items on different cloud accounts or per customer tenant organization.
The Additional Line Items charges appear in Cost Analytics and Dashboard charts and tables. This charge will also show up in the Cloud Billing Report and is classified as a “Custom” Charge Type. It can be filtered out of the Cloud Billing Report using Advanced Filters as shown in the Cloud Billing Report generator dialog:
For more information, see Additional Line Items page.
If you want to adjust your cloud services costs before you reveal them to your users, you can add a markup or a discount percentage using the Markups and Discounts page in the Edit Cost Model dialog. With this feature, Service Portal users will see the adjusted costs throughout the Service Portal and in any emails to them that contain cost information. The cost adjustments, which can be used with any private or public cloud services, can be applied globally or to specific service types. This is useful for applying different markups or discounts for different groups of bill line items.
To better manage cloud resources, Commander administrators now have the option of viewing original or adjusted costs on the Cost Analytics dashboard.
For more information, see Filtering cost analytics information.
You now have the option to generate some reports that have only the adjusted costs, so you can provide Service Portal users with only marked-up and discounted costs, not the actual costs you pay. Reports that can have adjusted pricing include the Cloud Billing report, the VM Billing report, and the VM Comparative Economics report.
Building upon the Service-based markup/discount capabilities delivered in Commander 8.0, we have further enhanced this ability to do SKU-based markups and discounts for public cloud accounts. This allows you to adjust your cloud services costs before you reveal them to your users.
Markups and discounts for specific dates
The amount you need to mark up or discount your costs can change over time, for example in specific contracts or agreements you have with your cloud consumers or customers. In a previous release, Commander already provided the ability to markup/discount cloud service costs. With these new enhancements in Commander 8.2 you can now apply different values to your cost markups/discounts for different periods. Alternatively you can use “Never Expires” to retain the markup/discount indefinitely.
For more information on applying markups and discounts, see Markups and Discounts page.
Charge type classification
With the new Charge Type Classification feature, you can offer your Service Portal users a more customized Cloud Billing Report. Now you can choose which charge types to include or exclude from your AWS or GCP cloud billing reports. Charge types like taxes, credits, and rounding adjustments can be excluded from the billing report that your customers see. The report is also easier to read because the total taxes and credits can be displayed as separate items in the report.
For more information, see Cloud Billing Report.
A new setting is available in the Configure Organization wizard to allow you to show or hide cloud credit and tax information from Service Portal Cost Dashboard users.
For more information, see Displaying credits and taxes in the Service Portal Cost Dashboard.
You can now configure any international currency as the default currency code. Costs in Commander and the Service Portal will be displayed with the currency code you specify. Previously, only a short list of default currencies was available and costs were displayed with the currency symbol. For more information, see Default currency.
Note: This capability only changes the currency code, and must be used in conjunction with the Knowledge Base article mentioned below to perform the exchange rate conversion.
In combination with the new default currency code, you can now use an extension to update the exchange rate associated with a cost model. This capability allows Service Portal users to see costs in their local currency. Note that only some costs in the Commander UI will reflect the updated currency. For more information about the currency exchange rate extension, see Automatically Syncing Foreign Exchange Rate to Commander Snow Globe article. If you plan to use this capability, contact email@example.com.
Note: Future enhancements are planned to provide comprehensive multi-currency capabilities.
Users will have full flexibility to configure the thresholds and service types for these anomaly alerts.
In order to configure and view the alerts, users require the permissions: Show All Organization Services, Show Cost Dashboard, and Manage Cost Anomalies. To see alerts, you must have “All Services” selected as the default organization.
For more information, see Cost Anomaly Detection.
Filtering by service type
To see the context of cost anomalies even further, in the Service Portal you can now filter by Service Type. When you filter by Service Type, you can analyze cost trends and see forecasts for that service type only.
For more information, see Filtering Cost Dashboard data.
In both Commander and the Service Portal, the new zooming and scrolling features on the Daily Costs chart allow you to see cost trends on bigger or smaller scales. You can zoom in to see one week of data or zoom out to see up to 2 years of data. Scrolling lets you scan your data to get a better picture of your costs over time.
For more information, see Daily Costs.
To provide even greater precision for your Cost Analytics charts and Billing Reports, we’ve improved our billing data retrieval and display processes with the following enhancements:
- Accurate daily billing data takes a while for public cloud providers to accumulate and publish, so Commander will wait 24 hours before retrieving and displaying any public cloud billing records. You’ll see the most accurate information possible. For private clouds, you'll be able to see yesterday's estimated costs, but for public clouds, the most recent costing information will be the costs from the day before yesterday.
- For AWS, to make sure Commander captures any late billing adjustments, Commander will confirm the accuracy of all daily AWS costs every day of the current month.
Commander will also check every day for AWS bill updates for the previous billing month.
For more information, see Setting Up Cost Analytics.
In the Commander Inventory view there is a new Database tab that lists your deployed Azure SQL databases and AWS RDS database instances. This tab is present for the root element and also for any Azure or AWS cloud account.
You can double-click any listed database to see either the AWS RDS instance details, which previously existed in Commander, or the new Azure SQL database details.
Azure Database Display
In Commander you can now view the Azure SQL database instances that you have deployed in your Azure cloud accounts. These instances include: Azure SQL Databases, Azure Managed Instances, and Azure SQL VMs.
In Commander you can select an Azure cloud account from the Inventory views to see a complete list of Azure SQL databases deployed for that cloud account. The complete list of deployed Azure SQL databases are now displayed in a new Databases tab, and you can select any listed database to view more information for it.
Each Azure SQL database is also displayed as a hierarchical element in Commander's Inventory views. You can select an Azure SQL database element to view more information for it.
On the Databases tab, you can also double-click any listed Azure SQL database to view more detailed information for it. For a complete list of the available Azure SQL database properties that can be displayed, see Database properties (Azure).
Note: In the example below, database details are shown for the selected Azure SQL VM
staging-sqlserver2019 appears in the Inventory view under the virtual private network both as a database and as a VM. Azure SQL Databases and Azure Managed Instances only appear as database elements because they aren't associated with a VM.
Tip: You can customize the properties that you want to display for the Azure SQL databases and the order in which the properties are displayed. For more information, see Customizing the Commander Display.
Manage Azure databases
In Commander, you can now also perform administrative actions on Azure SQL databases. This allows you efficiently manage your Azure SQL databases. For example, in Commander you can run command workflows on your Azure SQL databases (see Running Command Workflows) or request service changes on them (see Requesting changes to services).
Note: The management of Azure SQL databases in the Service Portal is planned for a future Commander release.
You now have the option to add a new completion workflow or edit an existing one when you create or edit a service change request form.
View service request details
To help manage and diagnose events related to service requests:
- For new service requests, the Service Requests page now displays the name of the requested service instead of the name of the service request form.
- When provisioning a new service, an event now associates the service with the request number and the user who requested the service.
Improved table view of the Catalog
We've added an Annual Cost column to the Catalog table view and reduced the number of displayed columns to show the most important information. To display any columns that are now hidden by default, you can right-click on the table to select the columns you want.
For more information on how to select which columns to display, see Adding, removing, or rearranging table columns
New Rightsizing Group for the Recommendations table
You now have the option to add the Rightsizing Group column to the Recommendations table. The column is hidden by default.
For more information on how to select which columns to display, see Adding, removing, or rearranging table columns.
Azure Database Display in Service Portal
Service Portal users can now view their deployed Azure SQL databases and perform administrative actions for them.
These capabilities provide users with a more complete picture of their deployed resources and allows them to more efficiently manage their deployed databases.
Environment variables for credentials
You can now use credentials as environment variables in scripts to execute workflow steps. Environment variables provide a secure way to store your credentials and allow you to configure workflows more efficiently.
Credentials are previously set, then retrieved and executed in the context of the script. As the values for the credentials remain in the system, there’s no risk of exposing credentials through the code.
Environment variables are available for:
- Credentials for AWS, Azure, SCVMM, and VMware cloud accounts (as shown below).
- A named Commander credential.
- A selected credential.
For more information, see Using Environment Variables for Credentials.
The script editor now provides syntax highlighting and a larger text field to edit multiple lines. In addition, you can now use keyboard shortcuts to expedite common actions, such as finding and replacing.
You can use the script editor for:
- Workflow steps
- Dynamic list scripts
- Email body for expiry policy notifications
For more information, see Using the script editor.
The following interface improvements have been made to streamline navigation, and improve the overall look and feel:
New search for custom attributes
New reminder to assign access rights for cloud account
Increased First Name and Last Name character limits for user names
Redesigned sign-in page
Updated summary for Inventory views
New Inventory tree search
Reorganized Identity and Access menu
New Actions menu
Updated styling for reports and emails
We've renamed the following:
The VM Comparative Economics report is now called the Cloud Migration Planner report.
The My Resources page in the Service Portal is now called the Applications page.
A Managed System is now called a Cloud Account.
vCommander is now called Commander.
The Commander VM Access Proxy allows you to secure your virtualized infrastructure behind a firewall while still permitting your users secure console, RDP, VNC, and SSH access to their VMs.
The version 3.4 Commander VM Access Proxy now provides a container-based installation process, which is simpler and will provide easier upgrades in the future. It also offers security enhancements, improved copy/paste functionality in Secure RDP, Secure SSH, and Secure VNC connections, and the ability to install the VM Access Proxy on a machine with a Linux distribution of your choice that complies with your company's best practices and security requirements.
You can now specify an SSH port when creating a workflow step. Because public cloud SSH ports may be different for each case, you can now customize the SSH port during execution of the SSH command step.
You can set the port value using either a fixed integer, such as 22, or a variable.
To accommodate workflow steps from previous releases, you can leave the port field empty and the system will use port 22. If you have an invalid variable, the system will also use port 22.
The following improvements have been made to REST deployment destination models:
- You can now use both datastores and datastore clusters as storage when creating VMware deployment destinations.
- You can now retrieve the details of VMware deployment destinations that have either datastores or datastore clusters as storage.
- You can now use both standard networks and distributed portgroups as networks when creating VMware deployment destinations.
- etworks or distributed portgroups.
Retrieve additional resources
We've extended the number of resources you can browse and filter through the API. This allows you to discover the resources required to create deployment destinations.
You can now configure and manage IP pools through the API, which extends the support for Commander on-boarding scenarios.
You can retrieve AWS and Azure database instancesthrough the API.
System health and version
You can now retrieve the installed Commander version, and monitor its real-time system health information.
Manage user roles with REST API
You can now manage user roles by doing the following:
- browse user roles
- retrieve properties and permissions
Browse billing records
Billing records can now be retrieved and filtered on several properties including:
- cloud account
- charge type
- billing record tag
Manage cloud accounts
We've expanded cloud account management with a number of new features. These include:
- creating, retrieving, and updating cloud accounts
- managing the custom attributes on cloud accounts
- assigning ownership to the child resources of a cloud account
- managing access rights to a cloud account
- reconnecting to a cloud account
Browse tasks and events
You can now query and filter system tasks and events. This allows you to create audit trails of important system events and to monitor the state of long running tasks for completion.
You can now browse active and ignored recommendations. This includes rightsizing, power scheduling, and reserved instance purchase recommendations for virtual machines and AWS regions.
VM ownership and attributes
We've added the ability to apply ownership and attributes to VMs using REST v3.
Blueprints from multi-cloud templates
In REST v2, we've added the ability to create blueprints based on multi-cloud templates.