It seems like an obvious question. Billing keeps your business ticking, yet the process for billing is often one of the last things to be considered when building out a new service.
As a customer of any utilities, whether personal or business, you expect to receive a bill for the services you use. A detailed bill, for example, that showcases how much gas, water or electricity you’ve consumed. You want to be able to monitor your usage, check figures and call your service provider if you are not happy. So, why would you not expect this of your cloud computing service provider?
However it is important to bear in mind that there are two stakeholders in the billing process – the customer and the service provider.
1. The Customer – As a customer of cloud computing, there will be peaks and troughs in service demands. Giving the customer a clear understanding of what they are paying for will help them monitor SLA’s, provide accurate budgeting and also enable them to resource plan for busy periods. It’s pretty simple – pay for what you need and be able to scale to accommodate business requirements.
2. The Service Provider – As a service provider, the business objective is to sell their products or services to customers. The billing system should never hinder this. Cloud computing accentuates this as a significant challenge. This is because the on-demand, agile and instantly scalable nature of the cloud demands a billing engine just as responsive. Service providers need a billing engine built specifically for the cloud.
The challenge is that most service providers have a legacy billing system; either one that models hosting billing or Telco billing. Unfortunately neither system is sufficiently well suited to the cloud.
So if the legacy hosting and Telco billing solutions are not fit-for-purpose, what does a cloud billing system need? A truly cloud-centric billing system needs to have the ability to:
- Handle complex systems
- Scale up and down in line with demand
- Be in real-time
- Track self-service provisioning
- Provide visibility and control
- Drill down into each component or service and report back
- Support multiple levels of resellers
Having agile resources is fruitless if you cannot bill for them. Cloud customers expect the same utility billing as their other service providers. As a cloud computing service provider, you should be offering this. If not, ask yourself why not.
Over the next few weeks, as we prepare an expert webinar on Metering and Billing, I will be writing about other aspects of metering and billing. I will also open up registration for our expert webinar very soon. In the interim if you would like to learn more please read our white paper on cloud metering and billing.
Image Provided by: CommunityFriend