Cloud billing is a widely accepted challenge in the industry – mostly because there are many business models, complexities around infrastructure and customers and resellers to support. Here I look at some cloud billing quirks.
Many service providers are using their own home grown or cobbled together billing system as a direct result of quirky business models. And as a result, most of the time, the business model doesn’t fit into off the shelf billing solutions. The problem is that a quirky billing model does not support growth, complex business models or reseller programs. So what’s the solution?
Well for starters, cloud providers need a way to customize billing capabilities without becoming software engineers. They need to avoid creating billing capabilities that are unsupported so that changes in the business plan cause more investment in billing software development. They also need to ensure the billing solution is easily extended, integrated and modified to suit individual customers without creating additional unsupported systems.
Let’s consider some use cases:
Peak/Off-Peak Pricing – For service providers serving a particular vertical say eGaming, there will be peak periods and off-peak periods. During particular weekend sporting events, they’ll be more willing to pay a premium for cloud services. Alternatively, a financial services firm will pay a premium during working hours Monday to Friday especially around stock market opening and closing. The ability to charge different rates for resources, based on customers, time or day, can help to promote usage when there is more available. For example, a company conducting a data crunching exercise might be willing to use cloud services overnight when neither the eGaming company or FS firm needs it.
Certain Resources Free – Similar to the consumer model, where a company might offer a free service to hook end-users, cloud service providers should have the ability to offer certain resources for free and not bill. However, the ability to meter this usage is still important.
Penalty Charges for Usage Above Certain Levels – Consider how a mobile phone operator charges the end-user more when they go over allocated minutes. The same applies to the cloud service provider. They should have a billing model that can automatically recognize when usage reaches a specific peak. This should in turn be billed appropriately with little intervention.
Spot Pricing – Some service providers will want to offer dynamic pricing based on load and available capacity of the platform. A billing solution should support this level of customization.
How does Flexiant Help?
We have recently launched Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator 3.1 that includes our Flexiant Development Language. It offers extensive flexibility to create bespoke customizations on a per customer level so that service providers can easily customize billing capabilities without becoming software engineers. Using Flexiant Development Language, you’ll have greater control and flexibility in configuring platforms, you’ll have the flexibility to change billing right down to the individual and the ability to build unique models without the need for Flexiant intervention.