Integration, Make or Break

“The cloud” is such an approachable metaphor; a simple term to represent what amounts to the largest and most complex system ever devised. We take billions of people, millions of companies, and trillions of miles of wiring that span the entire planet and provide sub-second communications between the entire human race. And to represent it we draw a nice, non-threatening, white fluffy cloud on the whiteboard. What’s really inside that cloud is something so shockingly complex that it takes specialized teams of experts to even begin to understand the myriad ways in which you can “connect to the cloud.”

Integration to “the cloud” actually means integration to the systems of other businesses. Each of these businesses integrates to many other businesses, and each of them represented by their own custom, often proprietary, API stack and entry/exit points to their system. Any business must be ready, willing, and able to integrate their system with dozens of other systems of varying purpose, scope, and complexity.

A core component in the integration of any commerce-related business is the billing system. The billing system is the hub of revenue-facing business processes. All data must flow through the billing system, and the billing system must be the absolute source of truth.

With over ten years experience offering “cloud billing” to the enterprise market, Aria Systems is well-versed in the tenets of effective integration management and how to leverage those integrations into successful implementations time and time again. In the role of Senior Integration Manager for Aria, I know firsthand what an amazing and complex feat it is to have so many different systems talk to each other seamlessly and reliably. Just how amazing and complex? Let me elaborate.

Each of our clients requires us to integrate with multiple external systems in order to be successful. With our exclusive Unified Channel Billing technology, we also have to think of the downstream ramifications of our clients’ channel partners’ own integrations. Aria is capable of integrating a parent client to a completely separate set of third party systems, and Aria manages each of those integrations separately while still allowing data to flow through the appropriate channels.

Aria’s experience in this space and our unique architecture allows us to be successful both through our existing integrations and in creating new ones. Aria currently integrates with a dozen payment processors, half a dozen taxation engines, and a handful of financial reporting systems, not to mention our custom SalesForce connector and our pre-defined generic connectors against which our clients can build their own systems. If our existing dozens of integrations are not enough for your business needs, we have an Integrations Management department which analyzes potential integration partners, determines the most successful path, and manages the integration process until we have yet another logo to add to our already impressive portfolio of integration partners.

The flexibility and power of the underlying Aria system is crucial to the success of any integration we attempt. Each integration is unique, and we must analyze the communication methods of the third party in order to determine which of Aria’s five major communication methods is most appropriate:

  • Should we design an integration where the third party relies solely on Aria’s existing API suite, with hundreds of methods that perform every action they need?
  • Should we simply leverage our scheduled reporting system to transfer formatted reports to the third party once a day?
  • Should Aria write a new integration process which handles our raw data internally and interfaces with the third party APIs directly?
  • Does Aria need to accept raw data from the third party in bulk via Aria’s UAL system?
  • Does the third party require real-time notification of critical events within the Aria system via Aria’s Event Notification and Provisioning systems?
  • Or is the proper solution a combination of one or more of these five major methods?

Keep in mind that each of these methods also has different ramifications. It’s worth noting that Aria’s system is not passive. Our Event Notification and Provisioning system is entirely real time and pushes out notifications to other systems; in fact, there are hundreds of events for which Aria’s system can do real-time notification. Aria’s system doesn’t sit back and wait to be told what to do. It knows what to do and is actively doing it at all times.

When companies that have integrations with at least one other system begin the process of evaluating billing systems like Aria’s, it’s not just because they need a way to manage the nitty gritty details of billing, collections, dunning, pro-ration, and the hundreds of other billing-related business processes at which Aria’s system excels. The integration with tax engines, payment processors, address verification services, card verification services, revenue recognition systems, accounting systems, online storefronts, and usage rating engines are also critical aspects that Aria can masterfully implement. And while Aria’s core system and Business Process Automation system can be the center of your revenue-facing business processes, let Aria also keep all that data flowing where it needs to go. In that way, the power of Aria’s integrations management grants you access to world-class solutions above and beyond its already world-class core offering.

Daniel McAloon, Aria Systems, Inc.

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About the Author

Dan McAloon
Dan spent his early career at SaaS startups around the country before coming to Aria in the Spring of 2011. Since then he has worked in four different departments and is currently Aria's Senior Sales Solution Architect and Subject Matter Expert.

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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