Pervasive Software (previous CloudAve coverage), Austin based Data Integration company, had their user conference Pervasive IntegrationWorld 2012 last week to talk about their customer stories, roadmap, etc.. During my visit to the conference, I had an opportunity to see one of the prototypes they were showing off and got me excited. It is about a new way of metering and billing software services. The product is not ready yet but when it is ready, it is going to change the way we pay for services, especially software services.
What is the pain point, BTW?
When we moved from the traditional software model to software as a service model, the licensing changed from bulk upfront payment to a subscription model. This was attractive because of no upfront costs involved but it was nowhere closer to the idea of utility computing which Nick Carr and others made us believe when they were advocating cloud computing. The subscription based pay as you go model reduced the shelf ware problem drastically but it was not equitable to the end users. For example, if there are two small businesses with two SaaS user licenses, they both paid the same amount irrespective of their usage of the service. Business A with 100 hours of usage in the month paid the same as Business B which used only for 20 hours. The subscription model didn’t sync well with the idea of utility computing, mainly because there was no good solution to measure the actual usage. Another important requirement of SaaS users is the ability to budget their usage.
Pervasive’s solution: Data Metering
Pervasive being a data focussed company are attacking the problem from the data level. They feel that the right way to meter SaaS is by metering the data and this is going to be all the more important as we move towards a data driven world. Once there is a solid solution to meter the data, utility computing can be at the heart of data driven society. When data becomes the DNA of the society, all physical events can be mapped into logical actions which turn captured data into information. Once you find a solution to perfectly meter this data, you have the ultimate metering nirvana. Pervasive is aiming to do just this and they have taken the first step by building a metering solution for MySQL database which is at the heart of many SaaS offerings. Their MySQL data metering solution sits between the database and the billing service (which can be anything including your current favorite) seamlessly giving out the usage metrics. It requires no code change to the application except an one time mapping of schemas. It is as simple as Map, Drop and Connect. It is still in the prototype stage but they are going to make it available in the coming months.
I am excited not just because it puts utility into SaaS applications but it also fits very well into the intelligent apps and intelligent platforms model I am pushing here and elsewhere. This metering solution is one of the pieces I need in support of the model. Data metering is a hard problem and Pervasive Software is confident that they have a solid solution. Let us wait and see.
Disclosure: Pervasive Software paid for my travel and stay at the conference and their CTO is keynoting at Deploycon 2012.