How to use Terra on Azure with a Google login

Allie Cliffe
  • Updated

What to expect if you log into Terra with Google SSO but want to work in Terra on Azure.

Before you start: Prerequisites

You do not need to have a linked Microsoft account or even a Microsoft login in order to work in Terra on Azure. Broadly, you can log into Terra with your Google ID and work in Terra on Azure if you use a shared workspace or Azure billing project. Currently, only allow listed users can log into Terra on Azure using a Microsoft account. However, there is no allow list for users with a Google ID

Make sure to have one of the following in place

Someone has shared a Terra on Azure workspace with you
Someone has shared a Terra on Azure Billing project with you

How to work in Terra on Azure with a Google login

  • 1. Log into Terra with your Google ID.

    2. Go to Your workspaces.

    3. Open a Terra on Azure workspace (shared with you). 

    That's it! Once you are in a Terra on Azure workspace, you are in Terra on Azure. 

  • 1. Log into Terra with your Google ID.

    2. Go to Your Workspaces or Featured Workspaces

    3. Find a Terra on Azure workspace (filter billing project by Azure).

    4. Make a clone of the workspace using an Azure-backed Terra Billing Project

What to expect

Once you are in a Terra on Azure workspace, you will automatically be working in Terra on Azure.


Documentation resources

You will find there are some differences between the two versions of Terra! Never fear; there is ample documentation to help make the transition easier.

GCP versus Azure: Key differences

To keep up-to-date about Terra on Azure functionality, see Overview: Terra on Azure

Cloud costs

Working in the cloud in Terra on Azure incurs infrastructure and resource costs, as outlined below. For maximum control over where data is stored, increased scalability (ability to store large amounts of data with no effect on performance), and the flexibility to integrate additional analysis apps, we’ve transitioned some infrastructure from Terra-owned to user-owned in Terra on Azure.  

Base infrastructure cloud costs (starts at $10-15/day per Terra Billing project)

When you (or an IT Admin or collaborator) create a Terra Billing Project, Terra launches Azure infrastructure resources that currently cost about $5 per day and are shared across all workspaces in the billing project.

Workspace infrastructure costs (~4/day per workspace)

Every new workspace has an additional fixed cost of about $5 per day for resources that power data tables. Additional charges will apply based on storage and compute usage within the workspace.

Caveats when creating a workspace

  • The process for creating a Terra on Azure workspace is the same as that on the Google Cloud.
  • You must have access to an Azure-backed Terra billing project. When you select an Azure-based billing project during workspace creation, the workspace will automatically be in the Azure cloud infrastructure.
  • Workspaces cost $5/day in addition to the costs of cloud resources to store and analyze data.

Data Tables

Data tables look much like data tables in Terra on GCP, but they are hosted in a private relational database with parameters set up at the Terra Billing project level. Currently, you can sort data in ascending or descending order by column. We are working on adding additional spreadsheet-like functionality, such as the ability to sort and filter and add and delete data.

To learn more, see Intro to Data tables (Terra on Azure).


Much like running an interactive analysis app in Terra on Google, you will need to launch the Cromwell app to run a workflow analysis in Azure. You will only need to do this once. 

  1. Go to the Workflows tab.
  2. Click the Yes, launch workflows app button to start the Cromwell app.

What to expect

  • The workflows engine will take between 10-15 minutes to start up, the first time.
  • You cannot currently delete the Cromwell app, once started.
  • It will not incur any cost unless a workflow is running. 

Interactive analyses

Terra on Azure uses JupyterLab, not Jupyter Notebooks. The terminal is available inside the JupyterLab instance. Galaxy and RStudio are not available in Terra on Azure.

To understand what to expect, see How to customize and launch JupyterLab

Why is Terra’s Azure cost model different from Google's?

If you're familiar with Terra on Google, you may notice that the cost model for Terra on Azure is different. One significant difference is that some Terra-owned infrastructure has been shifted to user-owned in Terra on Azure. This change allows Terra on Azure to be more scalable and flexible, and gives billing project owners and workspace owners more control to maintain the isolation and security of your data. It does come with some added costs.

What to expect: Cost differences

When you create a billing project or workspace, Terra creates fixed infrastructure resources to run Terra on Azure. The billing project resources are shared across workspaces and applications within a workspace. The workspace infrastructure powers the workspace data tables. In Google, Terra owns and manages some of these resources for you, but in Azure, everything is managed within your Azure subscription, giving you maximum control over your data and resources.

We are working to provide more cost-effective infrastructure options in the near future.

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