Challenge: Struggling to keep up with the rapid increase in the number of users
Our team serves as the gateway for NTT DATA’s various cloud services (AWS, Azure, etc.), handling a range of reselling tasks, including alliance development with cloud vendors, account management for service usage, payment based on billing information from vendors, and billing to end users. We provide services not only within our company but also to external users, managing thousands of accounts in total.
Prior to the introduction of Alphaus Cloud (Ripple), our team faced challenges in billing operations, specifically (1) coping with an increased workload and (2) difficulties in keeping up with billing information from cloud vendors.
Before the adoption of Ripple, billing operations were conducted using Excel. This involved billing staff, several administrative workers, and a person responsible for maintaining the Excel macros. Specifically, we downloaded billing data from AWS and used Excel macros to create billing information for each user, following internal procedures to generate invoices. There were cases where different billing conditions existed for different users, requiring additional efforts and burdening the team members. Therefore, increasing the processing capacity to accommodate the anticipated growth in accounts became an urgent issue.
Furthermore, billing procedures from each cloud vendor had unique characteristics and often underwent changes. However, due to the daily workload, there was insufficient time to organize and document these changes. As a result, knowledge became person-dependent, and when there was a personnel change, it would take over a month to onboard the successor.
In an effort to find a solution that could streamline our billing operations and address these challenges, we came across Ripple and conducted a comparative study alongside other tools.
Determining Factors for Adoption
During the tool verification process, we discovered that Ripple could not only solve the increased workload issue but also reflect contract conditions for each customer in the billing process. Additionally, we appreciated Ripple’s proactive approach to considering and adopting requested features that were not yet available at the time of the verification. Entrusting Ripple with the expertise related to billing from each cloud vendor allowed the personnel to focus on billing operations for users.
Based on these factors, we decided to fully implement Ripple for AWS billing operations.
Effectiveness after Implementation
The implementation of Alphaus Cloud (Ripple) resolved the challenges we faced before, namely, (1) increased workload and (2) difficulties in keeping up with billing information from cloud vendors.
(1) Increased workload: The implementation significantly reduced the monthly billing workload, enabling us to avoid expanding the billing staff. It also allowed existing team members to engage in other supplementary tasks such as support and service expansion. We believe that Ripple was essential in addressing the rapid increase in users at that time. It also helped us move away from the personalized approach using Excel, thereby preventing human errors resulting from data transfer and promoting efficiency.
Furthermore, before the adoption of Ripple, when the internal user department purchased Reserved Instances (RI) or Savings Plans (SP), they had to go through an accounting process by submitting a request. With Ripple’s detection, such requests became unnecessary, improving usability.
(2) Difficulties in keeping up with billing information from cloud vendors: Prior to Ripple’s implementation, we had to keep up with billing information from each cloud vendor ourselves and immediately incorporate that information into the billing process. With Ripple, new services or changes in billing information are automatically reflected, which has been a great help.
We are highly impressed with Ripple’s modern and intuitive interface, which makes it easy to understand and navigate. As a tool we use on a daily basis, we consider these aspects to be of utmost importance. Despite managing data for thousands of accounts, the responsiveness of the user interface is excellent. We believe this is a significant advantage of Ripple being offered as a SaaS solution. We are also grateful for the proactive support provided, addressing not only the issues we identify but also anticipating and resolving problems and challenges arising from changes in cloud service specifications.
Background of Choosing Multi-Cloud (AWS & Azure) Use
At the time, we had already implemented Ripple for AWS, but we were still using Excel for invoicing tasks related to Azure (CSP). This was primarily due to the relatively lower number of Azure (CSP) users. However, with the introduction of Azure Plan, a new pricing plan by Azure, we decided to migrate to Ripple. This transition allowed us to handle billing changes from cloud vendors with minimal effort. Furthermore, having the ability to view billing information for different cloud services through a single interface has improved user convenience.
Future Goals Utilizing Alphaus Cloud:
Our ultimate goal is to create a seamless and efficient reselling process, flowing effortlessly from user application to account provisioning and invoice creation. With the comprehensive API capabilities of Alphaus Cloud, we are optimistic about weaving these processes together without requiring substantial resource allocation. Additionally, considering the increasing demand for users to self-provision accounts using AWS Control Tower functionality, we intend to utilize Alphaus Cloud for collecting billing-related information and facilitating invoice coordination for the provisioned accounts. Moving forward, we not only strive for business efficiency through Alphaus Cloud but also aim to provide additional value beyond invoicing to our users.