Billing Management System
The billing management system mechanism is dedicated to the collection and processing of usage data as it pertains to cloud provider accounting and cloud consumer billing. Specifically, the billing management system relies on pay-per-use monitors to gather runtime usage data that is stored in a repository that the system components then draw from for billing reporting and invoicing purposes (Figure 1).
The billing management system allows for the definition of different pricing policies, as well as custom pricing models on a per cloud consumer / per IT resource basis. Pricing models can vary from the traditional pay-per-use models, to flat-rate or pay-per-allocation modes, or perhaps a combination of any of these.
Billing arrangements can include both pre-usage payment or post-usage payment by cloud consumers. The latter type can include pre-define limits or it can be set up (with the mutual agreement of the cloud consumer) to allow for unlimited usage (and, consequently, no limit on subsequent billing). When limits are established, they are usually in the form of usage quotas. When quotas are exceeded, the billing management system can block further usage requests by cloud consumers.
Figure 1 - Cloud service consumers exchange messages with a cloud service (1). A pay-per-use monitor keeps track of the usage and collects data relevant to billing (2a), which is forwarded to a repository that is part of the billing management system (2b). The system periodically calculates the consolidated cloud service usage fees and generates an invoice for the cloud consumer (3). The invoice may be provided to the cloud consumer through the remote administration system console (4).