Accounting and Billing in Computing Environments

Accounting and Billing in Computing Environments

Claus-Peter Rückemann (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (WWU), Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-890-1.ch010
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This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of the current status of accounting and billing for up-todate computing environments. Accounting is the key for the management of information system resources. At this stage of evolution of accounting systems it is adequate not to separate computing environments into High Performance Computing and Grid Computing environments for allowing a “holistic” view showing the different approaches and the state of the art for integrated accounting and billing in distributed computing environments. Requirements resulting from a public survey within all communities of the German Grid infrastructure, as well as from computing centres and resource providers of High Performance Computing resources like HLRN, and ZIVGrid, within the German e-Science framework, have been considered as well as requirements resulting from various information systems and the virtualisation of organisations and resources. Additionally, conceptual, technical, economical, and legal questions also had to be taken into consideration. After the requirements have been consolidated and implementations have been done over one year ago, now the overall results and conclusions are presented in the following sections showing a case study based on the GISIG framework and the Grid- GIS framework. The focus is on how an integrated architecture can be built and used in heterogeneous environments. A prototypical implementation is outlined that is able to manage and visualise relevant accounting and billing information based on suitable monitoring data in a virtual organisation (VO) specific way regarding basic business, economic, and security issues.
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As the meaning of the terms monitoring, accounting and billing is not sharply delimited, with respect to computing environments the following conventions may be helpful:

  • Monitoring means metering, gathering, analysing and reporting as well as management of information belonging to the state of computing resources and services.

  • Accounting means gathering, analysing and reporting as well as management of information belonging to the usage of computing resources and services. The most important objectives are optimisation and journaling of resource usage. With appropriate basic implementations, accounting can extend monitoring for the mentioned purposes.

  • Billing means pricing and charging, based on the calculation of certain quantities of computing resource usage on various economic foci. With appropriate basic implementations, billing can extend accounting for this purpose.

It must be emphasised that “resources” in this context does cover hardware resources as well as services. The chances for configuring an accounting for your specific information-related services will be shown in the comparison of existing systems and concepts. Services is just a specific type of resource. As services is much more heterogeneous than hardware accounting for any specific purpose metrics will have to be defined. The system chosen should be able to support a flexible concept for metrics. Based on these fundaments, accounting and billing can provide valuable means for steering the resource usage in computing environments. As for steering this is meant to be hardware in most cases, the examples given within the sections describing the integrated architecture, concentrate on the purpose of accounting of information-related services for complementing the view for the end-user.

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