EMC has unveiled an automated billing system for storage infrastructure, going further than previous 'capacity-on-demand' capabilities.
The system monitors the amount of storage used on a daily basis and calculates a monthly bill.
Bill Rafferty, EMC's vice president of global financial services, told vnunet.com that an automated approach is needed to complement its practice of including spare storage capacity.
The customer buys a basic system which includes extra buffer capacity for which they are charged only when they use it.
"We created a tiered price-per-gigabyte model [for the additional storage] but, without storage management tools and billing, it was cumbersome to measure what was billed on a monthly basis," said Rafferty.
The billing is built into EMC's OpenScale asset and financial management software, and makes use of existing collection technology linked to customer sites.
The collector detects storage in use on a daily basis, including storage area network switch ports, network attached storage and storage software.
It is then analysed by EMC's OpenScale Account Reporting, from which a monthly bill is produced.
But the system is only available to EMC's larger customers, typically those with 50 terabytes of storage, for which EMC's professional services organisation first does an infrastructure assessment to determine likely future usage.
So far, the only software monitored in this way is EMC's Symmetrix Remote Data Facility and TimeFinder, but Rafferty indicated that this would apply to more software in time.
He explained that there are difficulties dealing with large companies which do not use buffering and automated billing.
"In some companies 12 to 15 people are needed to sign off a purchase request and, operationally, the appetite for more storage can mean six to 12 installations in a weekend in some accounts. This is very disruptive to them and us," said Rafferty.
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