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SURE! Blog

Agility and Flexibility in Rating and Billing

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May, 2014


Cloud service providers should be capable of billing automatically based on any billing cycle. But one must not ignore the pains of a Cloud billing service provider in calculating the usage of each and every customer, applying a specified rate plan, and generating a bill. So there should be a proper mechanism in generating a statement of account or invoice/bill.

Now the challenge here is, a cloud service provider has to watch usage and consumption of their customer(s) which prevents significant revenue loss. A solution for this is a Metering component, which integrates with cloud service providers database servers / control panel /virtualization platform to collect Usage Detail Record (UDRs).

Does UDR really help in generating usage-based invoices/bills? In order to do so, a flexible rating engine should be in place to rate each individual service usage. The Rating engine should allow a service provider to comprehensively define different price rules and measure based on the usage. Therefore, the rating engine should be extensible with no restriction on units of measurement, it should support flat and tiered (incremental) rating schemes and also support both prepaid &post paid scenarios.

The rating engine should also allow collections of multiple usage type and accurate processing of the same. The Rate plan helps a service provider define free units & price per unit for usage based services. The rate plan converts the raw usage units provided by the service provider into ratable units and generates usage charges.

The following are the different rate plans a Cloud service provider’s metering and rating system should support:

Volume Based Rate Plan

Based on the total volume (e.g.: storage space) consumption, the system should support an incremental slab where price per unit varies. Invoices should be generated based on the total usage.

Time Based Rate Plan

Any day of the year / week and time of the day are considered in order to define different rate plans (off peak, holidays, business hours etc.). Usage is calculated based on these parameters and bills are generated accordingly.

Tier Based Rate Plans

Based on the customer requirements, various tier based price plans for the CDR/UDR should be configured. The ideal system should have the capability to configure flat/tier based pricing for the charges.
E.g. Calls between 100-200 will be charged $1 and 201-300 will be charged $0.5

The Partner Settlement module enables a service provider to manage end-to-end partner management by maintaining partner contracts, partner payables and receivables. Also, it helps a service provider’s settlements based on the CDR reconciliation.

The Partner Management module facilitates a service provider to have complex sales and distribution relationships and enables monitoring of business performance and revenues at a granular level. This helps service providers to capture, maintain and track partner/ affiliate / reseller data and relationship, in order to establish contracts. The module also helps service provider to define and apply flat, slab/tiered commission to its partner/reseller/affiliates and pay commission in an automated way at regular intervals. The service provider can capture, maintain and track sales (made by reseller or partner) based on sale or revenue generated.

The Invoicing/Billing process will use charges generated by the rating engine i.e., discounts and tax calculation and posting them into accounts. The Billing engine should also be flexible to support prorated rules while calculating the final invoice/bill.

By : Satish Garikipati

Satish Garikipati is a consultant with SURE! (a Magnaquest product). SURE! is an internationally acclaimed player in comprehensive end-to-end Subscription Business Solutions for PayTV, Broadband and Cloud Computing businesses – through deployment of Metered Billing, CRM, Service Fulfillment, Value-Added Services, and Managed Services.

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