Tech

So long billing plans, and thanks for all the fish!

Jim Freeman

Jim Freeman
Senior Cloud Architect

What’s the most important feature of a cloud management platform? If you’re a cloud service provider, it’s probably how easy your platform makes it to bill for your cloud services.

Flexible billing has been the cornerstone of the OnApp cloud platform since we launched in 2010. From the earliest days of OnApp we’ve enabled you to bill for every part of your cloud infrastructure, using OnApp Billing Plans.

Billing Plans enabled you to charge individual users for any resource consumed, be it virtual machines, templates, backups, CPU cycles, storage space or network bandwidth… everything was billable.

Billing Plan evolution

Fast-forward to the beginning of 2016, and we introduced “Company Billing Plans”, an extension to the existing billing plans functionality.  This tied into our VMware integration, so VMware cloud providers could bill for VMware resources on a per-organization level, not just per-user.

But now, we’re waving goodbye to all of that…

Enter… the Bucket!

In OnApp v5.6, released earlier this year, we removed billing plans.

Why? Because we’ve replaced it with something even better – a new billing system called “Buckets”. Buckets provide even more flexibility in the way you allow customers to access cloud resources, and make it even easier for you to bill for resources, either on an end-user or user group/company basis.

For people well-versed in Billing Plans, getting used to the new Buckets UI will not be that hard: it shares the same basic concepts as OnApp billing plans.

The main difference is that access to cloud infrastructure resources, and billing for cloud resources, have been separated. That means you can control who has access to certain compute zones, or networks, without having to define pricing or billing information.

Here’s a recent demo of the new Buckets billing process:

New billing features

We’ve added a few new features, such as being able to control access to assets such as Orchestration Models. This allows total pVDC isolation (provider Virtual Data Center) for customers using vCloud Director. Here’s how the access control screen looks – in this case, for a PAYG cloud product:

Performance increase

At the same time – while it’s not visible in the OnApp UI – during development of our rebuilt billing engine, we managed to refactor a lot of our billing backend, so that stat collection, archiving and other processing tasks have had their speeds increased, tenfold.

Here’s the rate card screen, where you set prices for various resources:

OnApp buckets - flexible billing for cloud resources - rate card

When can you start using Buckets for billing?

OnApp v5.6, which introduced Buckets, was an Edge release. Edge releases are not typically used in production environments: rather, we encourage customers to test the latest edge release features in a development environment, and give us feedback on how they work for their business – it helps us ensure new features have the stability and functionality you need.

So, when can you use Buckets in production? Buckets will be production-ready in the next Long Term Support (LTS) release of OnApp, which will  be version 6.0 – and that’s on the horizon! The new Buckets functionality will replace Billing Plans in the v6.0 release of OnApp.

There’s still time to get familiar with Buckets – so if you’d like to know more, please get in touch,  and if you have a test environment, install our latest edge release and start working with Buckets.

Thanks!