By: Art Middlekauff
Many of the benefits of internal billback processes are well-understood. Since so many enterprise resources are shared, it is critical to allocate the cost for these resources appropriately. If an organization is to have accurate ROI calculations for projects and initiatives, it is imperative that these kinds of costs are factored in. And of course software is one of the most expensive of these shared resources.
While investment planning is one benefit of billback processes, another benefit is cost savings. If all project leaders are charged for of the shared resources they are consuming, they will almost certainly use these resources more carefully. Encouraging this kind of cost-conscious behavior will visibly reduce the overall IT expenditure.
The problem is how to do billback accurately now that there are so many different complex license models in use. Many people have written about the increasing complexity of enterprise license agreements (for example, see this article). Much of the discussion around these new license models focuses on the challenge of maintaining software license compliance. But a less commonly recognized impact of this complexity is the effect on billback systems.
For example, if a database server is licensed by processor, then how should the use of that system be accurately billed back? Or if a software product is licensed for concurrently, how can billback be structured in a way to encourage frugal use of the software? With some creativity, a comprehensive billback process could be designed where enterprise users a rewarded for using lower cost database servers or using floating licenses during non-peak hours.
Do you have a billback system in your organization? Does it help with your ROI calculations? Do you think it could be structured in a way that actual encourage behavior that reduces overall IT expenditures?