Zuora Zeros In on CSPs with Salesforce.com

By Tim McElligott Comments

Subscription billing and commerce company, Zuora, of Redwood City, Calif., launched a new cloud computing solution called Zuora for Communications this week and signed an agreement with Salesforce.com to bring that solution to market on the Force.com cloud platform.

The company also named three new service providers using the new joint solution: Barrett Xplore, Inc., Canada’s first national 4G broadband network; Open Range Communications in Greenwood Village, Colo.; and Vocalocity in Atlanta.

These deals follow a 2010 in which Zuora grew revenue by 350 percent year-over-year. It had previously launched other vertically based solutions but this targets service providers specifically. “This brings it all back to the communications industry. It is our most exciting product announcement to date," said Tien Tzuo, CEO at Zuora.

The agreement with Salesforce.com is an OEM agreement to provide Zuora’s subscription billing and commerce services on the Force.com enterprise cloud computing platform. The companies already have hundreds of joint customers and Tzuo was once an executive at Saleforce.com.

Zuora for Communications enables communications services providers to price, quote and take orders on the front end and manage and monetize subscribers on the back end for any type of services, including broadband, Wi-Fi, 4G, VoIP, unified communications and wireless devices such as the iPhone, iPad and Android.

Zuora believes that to survive in a market that will have 7.2 billion mobile devices by 2015 and more than two-thirds of network traffic consumed by video – to say nothing of the 10 million apps already downloaded to Apple devices – service providers must be able to launch new products and services rapidly, have the flexibility to change pricing, packaging and promotions in real-time, and manage their customer relationships online. However, their legacy billing systems will hold them back.

“It used to be a good gig to be a carrier. They owned the customer. They owned the devices and the channel. You couldn’t put an app on a phone without going through them. And whatever they did they made money," Tzuo said. “But the last few years it is a completely different picture. Carriers are finding themselves under siege from all sides."

Elisabeth Rainge, Research VP, Telco Operations, IDC, agrees.

"With an untold number of devices coming down the pipe, telecom providers are facing unprecedented competition for subscribers, who will be exploring myriad new service offerings and provider alternatives," Rainge said. “The cloud offers a way for providers to pursue new subscribers and retain their existing base by responding quickly and flexibly to market demands. The partnership of Zuora and salesforce.com shows Zuora understands the importance of closely linked billing and customer care to maintain and monetize subscriber relationships."

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