UseaBiLLity FAQ

Q: What is UseaBiLLity?
A: UseaBiLLity is a cloud based service that allows MySQL application vendors to instrument their applications for data metering. Lean more about the UseaBiLLity service with a test drive.

Q: What is data metering?
A: Data metering collects database events (creates, reads, updates and deletes - CRUD) that occur in the database while an application is running. The results are delivered to the UseaBiLLity service for use in billing, business intelligence, or analysis.

Q: How does UseaBiLLity work?
A: UseaBiLLity has a simple process: Map, Meter, Connect

  • Map - The application vendor identifies application features or business metrics related to the application that they want to track over time. These features or business metrics are mapped to database events. For example, the metric of invoice generation by an accounting application is mapped to the database event of an update in a specific table in the database. The application map is used to define metering profiles that tell UseaBiLLity which database events to track, aggregate and deliver.
  • Meter - UseaBiLLity installs a plugin on the server where the MySQL database resides. Database events are logged  and results as defined by the metering profile are encrypted and stored by the plugin until a scheduled delivery (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly) via a secure network to the UseaBiLLity server. The storage and transmission are tamper proof.
  • Connect - Once the data collected by the plugin has been delivered to the UseaBiLLity server it can be used for a wide range of services. UseaBiLLity defines subscriber profiles to enable SaaS providers to deliver the information needed by the customer. UseaBiLLity is already integrated with 3rd party billing services including Zuora and QuickBooks, and integration with BI and predictive analytics services are planned for the future. When a service is selected, UseaBillity connects and delivers data metering results in formats that can be consumed by the service.

Q: Is it difficult to map an application for data metering?
A: No, mapping is a suprisingly simple process. Mapping database events to business metrics or application features requires knowledge of the business metrics that one would like to track and the database schema related to those metrics. Mapping is simply defining the one-to-one relationship between a database event (an insert, for example) and a business metric (new account created). Most usage based billing scenarios will involve a handful of metrics for which the customer is being charged. As the metering requirements grow more complex, for application feature usage example, the map grows larger and more complex as well. Learn more about mapping.

Q: What kind of plugin does the UseaBiLLity service use?
A: UseaBiLLity uses a MySQL Audit plugin, which enables information about server operations to be reported to interested parties. For more on MySQL plugin architecture go to the MySQL website.

Q: What billing systems are supported by UseaBiLLity?
A: UseaBiLLity outputs results in XML format, so any billing, reporting or analytics service that can consume XML can work with UseaBiLLity. Examples of billing system integrated with UseaBiLLity are Zuora and QuickBooks.

Q: How many applications can a single UseaBiLLity plugin support?
A: UsaBiLLity deploys one plugin per MySQL database. It is possible, although rare, that a single MySQL database can support multiple applications - assuming there are no shared tables or shared table names. So a single UseaBiLLity plugin could support multiple applications.

Q: How many UseaBiLLity metering profiles per MySQL application?
A: A MySQL application can support multiple metering profiles, which are the instructions delivered to the UseaBiLLity plugin with the specifics of which database events to track and how often to deliver the results. Metering profiles can change by customer - for example profit vs. nonprofit, by application module, or by version of the application.

Q: Can UseaBiLLity be used for other than billing?
A: Yes. Database events tracked and reported by UseaBiLLity can be used for a wide range of operations: application usage analysis (which application features are getting used the most or the least), predictive analysis for provisioning (tracking software usage can help predict SaaS infrastructure requirements), price modeling, business intelligence, software design optimization and more.  Learn more about UseaBiLLity use cases.

Q: Can UseaBiLLity help define a usage based pricing model for my SaaS offering?
A: Yes. Shifting to a subscription based or usage based revenue model from a perpetual license revenue model can be daunting and risky without the right information. UseaBiLLity can provide application usage information to allow a vendor to identify the key value areas of the application. Mapping database events to business metrics related to the key value areas, and tracking those metrics over time will provide detailed information for a highly accurate revenue forecast based on real customer usage information.  And, because the usage information can be delivered in terms the customer can understand (business metric), service subscribers are better able to relate business value to SaaS charges, and more likely to remain customers over the long term.

Q: What is the BoB paradox?
A: The BoB (Billing or Budget) paradox results from software users wanting to move  from a fixed monthly price for software to a usage based model (pay for what is used vs. paying a fixed fee per month regardless of what is used) while at the same time wanting to be able to accurately forecast software expense for budgeting purposes. Learn how UseaBiLLity resolves the BoB paradox.