And here was me thinking the cloud was all about altruism – no folks, it’s about money, pure and simple. Saving it at the buy-side, making it at the sell-side. News today from Zuora (see disclosure) that they will join the Microsoft Windows Azure Technology Adoption Program (TAP) as the first on-demand billing and subscription management provider to be chosen by Microsoft. What this means is that as part of the Windows Azure TAP program, Zuora is available to Windows Azure developers to power their metering, pricing and billing for all of their Azure based applications and services.

So – what does this enable Azure developers to do? With the Zuora Toolkit for Windows Azure, Windows Azure developers and ISVs can:

  • create flexible price plans and packages;
  • support usage and pay-as-you-go pricing models;
  • initiate a subscription order online;
  • accept credit cards with PCI Level 1 compliance; and
  • manage the customers, recurring subscriptions, and invoicing.

Beyond the PR hype, what’s interesting here is that more third parties (and larger third parties) are going down the route of partnering with a specialist billing and subscription vendor to provide this service. Microsoft’s quote on all of this tells us little:

Cloud computing is poised to change the way our customers do business, and we’re working to ensure that Windows Azure will enable these companies to quickly develop and deploy cloud-based applications. The importance of Zuora’s solution is that it helps give developers and ISV’s the flexibility to monetize their applications based on any pricing variables.

Which is a lot of words to say nothing in particular really. More interesting is whether or not this is a sign of things to come – whether more large vendors will look to outsource their subscription and billing. Google, for example, has promised developers that billing on it’s Apps Marketplace will be available late this year, is it possible that we’ll see Google partnering with (or perhaps acquiring) one of the third party billing vendors? Watch this space.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.


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