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Distribute Cost of File Service Use

For organizations employing a service-oriented IT infrastructure, a reliable and integrated method of calculating and billing for file storage use is a critical capability.

For service providers, the ability to deliver accurate and transparent calculations of file storage use is clearly fundamental to the business model.

The ability to calculate levels of file service use by group, department or customer in an automated and integrated manner forms the foundation of a billing system. The provision of self-service access to information that both explains the source of the costs and highlights areas of inefficient usage creates transparency between the provider and the customer. These two capabilities together enable the organization to effectively bill for service delivery and maintain an open and collaborative relationship with service users.

Useful Resources


Internal billing for file service use forms a powerful incentive for more efficient use of that service. A more tightly governed data footprint reduces exposure to catastrophic financial risk.

Business User

Providing access to information about how the customer is using the file service, alongside their invoice, facilitates action and creates the foundation for a collaborative relationship.

IT Management

Exposing the true cost of service use, without actually billing, provides a useful incentive to drive efficient file service use without requiring significant investment in change management.

Storage Management

Automated and integrated calculations of file service use establishes a fair, transparent, and cost efficient method of billing for that use.
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Looking to bill for file service use?

Billing for use of the file service can be both a valuable incentive to improve efficiency and a business critical function in a shared services or service delivery model.

The driving forces behind the implementation of a system of internal billing or cost reporting (showback) vary according to the business model in place. An IT service provider or public cloud provider wishes to accurately bill its customers for service use and to continuously add value to that service. Organizations using a shared-services model may wish to simply recover the costs of service provision. Other organizations look to internal billing as a method of encouraging efficient use of the file service.

Northern’s Solution

Northern’s File Service Cost Distribution solution area offers a workflow that has limited dependency on IT resources, uses defensible metrics that accurately reflect service use and includes the ability for customers to review the foundation for their charges in a self-service portal.

The benefits

The ability to rigorously and repeatedly calculate service use by customer, department or business unit and automatically feed usage metrics into an invoicing system enables the finance department to establish an efficient and accurate billing or showback system for file service use.
  • In a shared services model, costs for service provision and continuous development can be recovered efficiently, fairly and automatically.
  • For organizations delivering file services to external customers, offering the ability to match invoices with service usage information increases transparency and adds value to the overall service.
  • Internal billing or showback offers a powerful incentive for the wider organization to treat file storage as a valuable service that should be used carefully and efficiently, reducing overall capital and operating costs for the organization.
  • In an organization subscribed to an external billing service, having the ability to review file service use offers a method of confirming billing accuracy. It also enables the wider organization to improve how the service is being used and reduce future costs.

Struggling to make the most of the files your team members leave behind?

When a colleague or subordinate leaves your team knowledge about the files they created and used leaves with them. Orphaned files are most often ignored and allowed to accumulate as employees come and go. This strategy leads to cluttering of shared storage, to valuable data being lost and to duplication of effort.

Having users review and organize their files before transitioning out of your team or department ensures that value is protected; that the wider team can easily incorporate work done in future efforts. Additionally, being able to review the files created and used by former colleagues or subordinates, after they depart, can give valuable insight and enable further latent value to be identified.

Northern’s Solution

User off-boarding is an important milestone in the lifecycle of information created by that user. Some files should be deleted, some relocated and ownership should be transferred for files that are to be kept.

Northern’s Distributed Data Management solution area allows both the user themselves, prior to exit, and/or the user’s manager or relevant Data Steward to review and act on the files belonging to the exiting user. Working with summaries and filtered file lists, in a self-service portal, these data management activities are efficiently and accurately carried out.

The benefits

User-generated data represents the intellectual property, strategies, research and ideas that drive the development of the organization. Implementing a workflow that ensures the value of a user’s files is not lost when the user transitions out of a team or department has significant benefits:
  • Remaining group members are not forced to re-create documents, spreadsheets or presentations that are hidden or lost in a cluttered file share or suspended home share.
  • Team agility is improved when important files are correctly located and appropriately named; they can be quickly identified and used in relevant on-going activities.
  • Knowledge of file importance can degrade very quickly after the file owner leaves the group. Working with this data set immediately prior to, or just after, the user transitions out enables granular decisions to made very easily. The longer the task is left, the greater the risk that sensitive and restricted data is allowed to accumulate, unnoticed.
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