Partner Center Technical Corner: January 2023 edition
We are constantly working to improve the partner experience in Partner Center. Along with providing partners with visibility on new capabilities and functionality, we want to help you get the most out of Partner Center. With that in mind, this month, in addition to sharing the updated technical roadmap, we have added a spotlight topic which provides deeper information on improvements we’ve made to the billing experience and the benefits this can bring for your organization. The spotlight will be most relevant to the technical architects at your organization.
Partner Center Technical Roadmap: For a centralized view of what’s coming to Partner Center in the next six weeks, please review the Partner Center Technical Roadmap. For a summary of recent updates launched, see the key updates section below.
Spotlight: New efficient way to download Microsoft Azure usage data
To keep up with the growth in billing payload sizes, we have enabled a new asynchronous API model that enables partners to divide the dataset into smaller files (chunks) and download them in parallel or separately, cutting the download time by ~85%.
The previous API v1 paginated model used bandwidth and CPU time on server and client side, and the network latency caused long download times. The new APIs (v2) have been designed to compress the underlying dataset and help partners identify data changes based on an eTag (or entity tag). The eTag is an identifier that lets the partner compare the manifest file consumed previously against the latest one and assists them in determining whether the content has changed or not.
Partners can also check that the data is up to date before downloading it. This is helpful for large amounts of data that are updated often, like unbilled daily usage. The v2 APIs also support scaled-out storage blobs, which allow multiple downloads to happen at the same time to meet business needs. Here are a few quotes on how partners are benefiting from this enhancement:
“It’s a million times better and more efficient, I can run the retrievals in parallel, so it’s taking around 15 minutes instead of 8 hours, which is an incredible improvement.”
“It has cut down time to download in 90% (leaving processing and unzip out). It looks really good!”
With the new APIs, the service authenticates the download request of the usage recon files and provides a response with a secure token to access the underlying data. We’ve used valet key and asynchronous request-reply patterns to optimize usage reconciliation & deliver the results asynchronously.
Some of the advantages of the async request-reply pattern are:
Low latency/high performance between client and server: The async request-reply pattern allows the client and server to communicate without blocking or waiting actively, which improves the performance and scalability of the system. It also enables the client and server to operate independently and asynchronously, which makes the system more resilient to failures.
Fewer number of calls between client and server: Clients do not call API endpoint continuously anymore to download data, instead they only call the new API service endpoint to get a specialized key with limited validity, along with the manifest file. Then, the manifest file provides a key to download their data directly from the storage system. The storage system will verify the validity of the key. For example, in this new model, the number of calls to get ~3 million usage transactions will reduce from 1500 calls to 4-5 calls.
Compressed payloads: Improves the performance of the system by reducing data size transmitted over the network. Usage files will be compressed with Gzip algorithms. The receiver is then expected to decompress the payload to restore the original data. This can be done using industry standard software libraries or open-source tools. Due to smaller file size, it also reduces the bandwidth required for data transmission.
Optimization with pre-processing: We are heavily invested in big data pre-processing to improve efficacy in transformation, correlation, and curation of data, while preparing large volumes of data for partner consumption. This is important to streamline data dependencies, keep data streams healthy, and get them ready for immediate download upon receiving requests from partners. There are several advantages to pre-processing big data, including improved data quality, enhanced data usefulness, and reduced processing time.
For more information related to API v2 developer documentation as well as a reference code library, which serves as a sample client interaction with a new API interface, follow these links:
- Invoicing and reconciliation API v2 (beta)
- GitHub – Microsoft/Partner-Center-Billing-Recon: Partner Center Billing & Reconciliation code samples
- Invoicing and reconciliation API v2 (beta) – Partner Center | Manifest Payload
We’ve launched some new Partner Center capabilities since November 2022:
Security for customers and partners remains top of mind for us and we are committed to helping partners take more control when there is compromise or abuse, including the ability to cancel Azure subscriptions and register for fraud events. See the December and January announcements for important actions partners need to take to secure the partner ecosystem.
In the Incentives workspace, we have launched simplified proof of execution (POE) for thresholds for OEM plan programs. For Jumpstart Tier 1 and Server Incentive Program, when submitting a POE claim, partners will be intelligently directed on whether the POE is required or not. Partner benefits include reduction in marketing overhead, streamlined process, and overall ease of doing business by an improvement in end-to-end processing time. See Jumpstart Program Resource Center.
Partner Center – Insights workspace has undergone a transformation with a refreshed user experience designed to provide meaningful and personalized actionable insights for your business goals. Key highlights include what’s new, feedback loop, share now, and download options. See Partner Insights Workspace – Transformed.
Marketplace has enabled publishing and certification notifications to product-specific audiences in Partner Center. By using the feature, publishers and developers of the commercial marketplace, Office Store, Windows, and Xbox Store can add and remove users. See more at Action Center.
We released the latest SDK update in November 2022. The next two SDK releases are planned for February and May. As announced in November, Microsoft will stop supporting .NET SDK releases starting June. The latest SDKs will be archived in Github for partners to download. More information will be shared in a follow-up Partner Center announcement in February.
Partners can now migrate add-ons to new commerce independently from their base subscriptions through the migration APIs and will soon be available via the portal. We’ve also refreshed the NCE mapping data in the legacy offer matrix to help partners identify the offers that can be migrated. For more information, see the migration how-to topic mapping section.
Did you know we host CSP technical training sessions?
Our training sessions cover a variety of Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) topics in depth. Our hope is that partners will leave the sessions informed and equipped to implement upcoming changes. To participate and view previous and future recordings, sign up here.
Have an idea for a topic you’d like us to cover? Send us your blog suggestions.
Have a feature or improvement you want us to consider for our upcoming planning cycle? Give us feedback. We are getting ready to start our next planning cycle where we prioritize capabilities and improvements for April to September 2023.