NTP Software today announced general availability of a Storage Billing System module for its Storage M&A suite -- becoming the latest of several vendors trying to tackle the business end of storage management. (See NTP Adds Billing .)
NTP's new Windows-based package links data on who's using storage with the storage itself. It can track, for instance, how many Mbytes of a particular array is being used by Joe Smith for his accounting server.
It sounds great, but it remains to be seen how well it is actually received. NTP is among a select few suppliers with chargeback products, a list that includes a motley crew of vendors, none of which is particularly focused on billing. Included are Bocada, EMC, HP, Onaro, and Symantec. (See Onaro One-Ups SRM and HP Chomps AppIQ & Peregrine.) Others, including BakBone, IBM, and Softek, have yet to to add chargeback to their wares.
What's the holdup? It seems many companies just aren't into chargeback yet. A BakBone spokesperson, for instance, says it will offer chargeback if the supplier's customers want it -- and that hasn't happened, apparently. IBM, which acquired chargeback technology with CIMS Lab earlier this year, offers its Usage and Accounting Manager only for x86 and mainframe computers, not storage systems. While IBM plans to extend this product to storage, it has no specific timeframe for doing so. (See IBM & the Virtual Chargeback.)
Another obstacle to storage chargeback seems to be that it calls for companies to sort out exactly what needs to be charged, and that's something that many haven't yet been able to do.