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Aria Systems aims to fill billing gap

There's a hole in the enterprise software market between the expensive stuff that requires its own hardware stack as well as a consulting team and the apps you can download for a small fee right onto your PC.

"Basically, if you want to do billing, it's either $200 for [Intuit's] QuickBooks or millions for Amdocs or Portal. We offer Amdocs-class functionality on a subscription basis," Ed Sullivan, founder and CTO of Aria Systems told InternetNews.com. Aria Systems manages to serve the middle ground with a SaaS or cloud computing billing service.

Billing has its quirks. If you need to offer a customer a credit in the form of free services, some billing systems cannot handle that. If a customer adds services in the middle of the billing cycle, you want to deliver one bill each cycle, not two.


"There are also things our system automates for clients that an accounting system would never do," said Sullivan. "We can do customer activation, usage tracking, and customer management."

Sullivan got his start as an entrepreneur in the ISP industry. He founded LaserLink in the 1990s and sold it in 2000 to Covad.

He said that Covad had two very different key customers. "Gateway sold direct over the Internet, and Compaq sold through the retail channel. The reports we had to generate were very different."

During the dot com bust, Covad went bankrupt, emerging a smaller leaner company and Sullivan went on to found Aria Systems.

He told InternetNews.com that Aria's product complements Salesforce.com nicely. "Aria uses Salesforce.com to manage our own sales force," he said. "When you pay your $5,000, it doesn't sell your product but it does help you track your sales. Aria actually does your billing."

Aria also uses NetSuite, for e-commerce.

Aria is global, he added, connected into payment gateways in 236 countries, handling all currencies and a wide variety of credit cards. The company can also handle payments through services like Western Union and can put charges for services on mobile or wireline phone bills.

"When we designed the system our experience as operators came into play. We separated payment methods from processes," he said.

For example, he said that although PayPal is a great payment method, Aria can deliver a name like Online Guitar Game to the mobile phone bill instead of XYZ Corp.

As companies globalize, Sullivan foresees delivering data in different languages to different departments. "A Japanese game company might run a game in the U.S. but do support in India. All of our stuff for them today would be in English but I can imagine the day when the administration layer has to be in Japanese."

The software is priced based on a revenue share, with volume discounts. Flat fee pricing based on the number of accounts is available for free services.

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