Date: 22 July 2016
Support for Microsoft Azure Service
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing platform and infrastructure for building, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. In this release we added support for the automatic provisioning of Microsoft Azure service as part of the MS Cloud Services Service Manager we offer. In our platform the Azure service will be a pay-per-use product with consumption based billing. For every active Azure subscription, we collect in a daily basis the usage data from Microsoft and we bill them at the end of each billing cycle.
The integration we implemented includes the following capabilities:
Embedded Pricing Calculator in Storefront
The customer / reseller of the Microsoft Cloud Service Provider (CSP) will be able to estimate the cost of the services he wants to provision from inside CSP's Storefront. The embedded calculator we have implemented includes all available Azure modules and resources.
Automatic Provisioning of Azure Subscriptions
The Azure service is charged based on usage and the customer / reseller of the CSP can purchase it by adding it in his basket.
Upon basket check out, our platform will:
- Create the customer as a Microsoft tenant if this is the first time he purchase an MS cloud service
- Provision the MS Azure subscription to the MS tenant
- Apply the contributor role to the tenant admin user in order to be able to login to Azure Portal and start using resources
- Create a pay-per-use subscriptoin in Cloud BSS that will be used for receiving the usage data.
Collection in Daily Basis of Azure Usage Data
Our platform collects in daily basis the Azure usage data using Azure Resource Usage API. These data are accessible from the customer in subscription details page in Storefront.
Our platform is using these data for calculating:
- The cost of the current consumption. It is displayed as the subscription amount
- The estimated consumption. The estimated consumption is a projection of the current usage, until the end of subscription's billing cycle
Billing of Azure Subscription Consumption
The usage data we collect daily are used for the invoicing of the Azure subscription at the end of the month. The resource rates are retrieved using the RateCard API.
Managing the Credit Risk for Customers that are Using Azure Services
Because Azure services are billed based on consumption, you have the risk your customers to consume Azure resources that they are not able to pay at the end of the month. For limiting this risk, in this release we have implemented a credit limit mechanism for controlling the credit line you give to each customer. For more details, check the next paragraph.
Setup of Credit Limit per Customer - BETA
In this release we launched the first edition of our credit limit mechanism. The credit limit mechanism allows you to control the credit line of your customers for securing your receivables. Setting up a credit limit ensures that the amount of this credit is consistent with the financial capacities of each customer. If the customer exceeds his credit, the system will allow him to place an order but the services will not be provisioned and delivered to the customer.
The credit limit mechanism is currently in beta and the final version will be available by the end of August.
Setting up Customer's Credit Limit
In account's billing options we added a field for setting customer's credit limit. You can set the limit to be unlimited or to be a specific amount
Calculating Customer's Available Credit
Customer's available credit is calculated by summing up the unpaid invoices, the cost of the subscriptions that are charged in arrears and the estimated consumption of the pay-per-use subscriptions.
Suppose that a customer has a limit set to 1.000,00€ and he has 500,00€ of unpaid invoices and services that are charged at the end of the billing period with total amount 300,00€. For this customer the available credit is 200,00€. If this customer has also an Azure subscription with 150,00€ estimated consumption (i.e. the projection of the current usage until the end of subscription's billing cycle), his available credit will be 50,00€.
The available credit is displayed to the customer in billing section in Storefront.
Placing an Order that Exceeds Customer's Available Credit
When a customer places an order, the system checks if the order amount exceeds customer's available credit. In this case a warning will be displayed to the customer that he has exceeded his credit and that his order will not be executed. The customer will be able to complete the checkout process but the services will not be provisioned and delivered to the customer. A pending order will be created in the system and this order can be executed later on by an internal user of Cloud BSS after the customer has covered his outstanding balance.
The customer will be informed that he has exceeded his limit in checkout page.
Features that will be included in Final Version
In the final version that will be available by the end of August, we will also include the following features:
- Analysis of the available credit we display in Billing section in Storefront. The customer will be able to check how his available credit has been calculated.
- An email will be dispatched automatically to an internal user when a customer places and order that hasn't been executed because he exceeded his available credit
- When the customer places an order that exceeds his available credit, he will have the option to unblock his credit by paying the unpaid invoices using his credit card.
- A notification plan will be available for automatically dispatching emails to the customer when his credit limit reaches a specific percentage (i.e. when he reaches his 70% of his credit limit).
- For customers that have Azure subscriptions, you will be able to send to these customers notifications X days before their projected consumption reaches the 100% of their available credit.
interworks.cloud Platform - Sales & Billing
Redesign of Notification Plan for Credit Cards Clearance
In this release we redesigned the notification plan for the credit card clearance. This plan is used if the system fails to charge customer's credit card for the recurring charges. By setting up such plan, you can instruct the system to retry to charge customer's credit card for a given number of attempts. You can also define the retry interval.
For the unpaid invoices that a retry plan is in progress, you can cancel a scheduled payment attempt from the invoice view page. If you have an invoice with a failed charge attempt and the account is linked with a credit card clearance notification plan, then in the invoice view page you can see a ribbon indicating the next credit card charge attempt.
For more details, check the KB page Retry Credit Card Payments
Update of Subscription Billing Information when an End Customer is now Billed Directly
In this release we implemented that if an end customer is now billed directly to you, all his existing subscriptions to no longer be billed to end customer's reseller but to end customer directly. Until now if you changed an end customer to be billed directly by you, all the new subscription will be billed to the end customer but the existing ones remained under the reseller. This behavior has now changed and all existing subscriptions will be billed to the end customer from the next billing cycle.
Enhancements for CloudWorks Service Manager
- Redesign of VM provisioning mechanism. In this release we improved the error handling we apply during the provisioning of the IaaS services. In cases where we get unhandled errors from the underlying hypervisor, we have implemented a mechanism for retrying the provisioning action before rolling back the process.
- Minor UI enhancements in VM provisioning screens
- Minor bug fixes