Previous by Date Index by Date
Threaded Index
Next by Date

Previous by Thread Next by Thread

Simultaneous User pricing

I have read with interest the discussions on this list, particularly the
recent thread relating to per user pricing and peak vs. off-peak etc.  

As a vendor of hosting services and software used by some of the larger
publishers, I would like to offer a service providers perspective, and
perhaps give some background as to why, from a technical and service
assurance perspective, at least some measure of the peak demand on a
service is important. 

Many different services, (computer networks, electricity grids, water
reticulation systems etc.) need to be sized to deliver consumers an
acceptable service level most (if not all) of the time the service is
meant to be available.  This amounts to having to size all critical
aspects of the service infrastructure according to the peak demands placed
on them, and in situations where high reliability is necessary, to
replicate all or part of the infrastructure so that there is no single
point of failure. 

The actual cost of the infrastructure is therefore directly related to the
peak demands placed on it.  In terms of providing electronic access to
databases or journals, this is (more or less) related to the maximum
number of concurrent users. 

Whilst it may be true that peak demand only exists for part of the day or
year, sizing of the systems and infrastructure needs to be done on the
basis of that peak demand.  Off-peak capacity that can be delivered
cheaply is only available because the service infrastructure to meet peak
demands is in place (and paid for) already. 

Were you to be a publisher with a usage pattern that is opposite to the
norm, we might consider selling you some off-peak capacity, but with that
you would have to accept strict limitations on how much resource you
consumed during peak periods. 

However, as a publisher (or publisher's customer) you would probably
consider it unacceptable to have potentially no service at certain times
of the day, or have your service cut off without warning because there was
no spare capacity available.  (Electricity authorities commonly use this
model for off-peak electricity - you get a heavily discounted price, but
they can switch off the off-peak supply whenever they need the resource to
service other demand). 

In conclusion, if your publisher's charging model is based on the maximum
number of concurrent users, it may appear that you are paying for
something you aren't using most of the time, but given that the
publisher's facilities must be sized to deliver you an acceptable service
level when your demands are at their highest, peak-based pricing is
reasonably reflective of the costs of infrastructure to supply the
information online (of course infrastructure is only one of many
components in the equation). 

Ken Robinson

Whether you can police a concurrent user limit on a www-based service
depends on the software you use to control the web site.  Using what we
have, you can, with most, you can't.

Ken Robinson                  | Ph    +61-2-410-4612 
Senior Solutions Consultant   | Fax   +61-2-411-8603
Online and Network Services   | Email
Fujitsu Australia Limited     | Mobile 014-998-334
475 Victoria Avenue,          |
Chatswood.  NSW. 2067         |
Australia                     |
© 1996, 1997 Yale University Library
Please read our Disclaimer
E-mail us with feedback