BILLmanager 6: mobile version, VDC management, and new API
UPD from 2020: since the article has been published, the development plans for BILLmanager could have been adjusted. See Changelog to know the recent news.
In 2019 we launched a mobile version of the BILLmanager client area, the module for virtual data center management, and flexible configuration of automatic payments. Besides, now we are changing the product architecture: testing new API and switching to microservices.
At our meetup in Moscow, Elena Yamschikova, the product manager, told about our plans. You can read the main information in our article.
In June 2018 we introduced a new Client area in BILLmanager. The next step is the mobile version. Clients can pay for orders, manage their services, and contact Technical support from cell phones. The mobile version helps service providers to increase client loyalty and conversion rates.
In the beginning, the mobile version will provide the basic operations: customers can add funds and contact Technical support. Later, we will add service management tools, auto-payments, and reserved payments.
In April we will introduce the mobile version to the users of the ISPsystem Client area. We will test it, fix bugs, and release the version for all customers in summer 2019.
BILLmanager already supports IaaS: a service provider can offer virtual data centers and his clients can order and delete them. But now a VDC is available only in BILLmanager 5 and it doesn’t have all the management tools..
in autumn 2019 we will add a VDC order form into the new web-interface and add more management options: a client will be able to add servers and routers, configure Firewall, etc.
Currently, BILLmanager provides the auto-payment function, but its settings are not flexible enough. For example, the current version doesn’t allow configuring automatic generation of invoices. This can be a problem if a company needs an invoice in the middle or at the end of the month.
In winter we’ll add a fully functional section “Auto-payments” with flexible settings allowing to set up regular auto-payments or charge clients’ accounts automatically when a certain threshold is reached. Companies will be able to receive automatically generated invocies to emails at a reguired date and refular periods.
Besides, we will add subscriptions. A client can select a payment method for his service. Now auto-payments are charged only from the account balance.
We will add recommendations that will be displayed on the dashboard of the client area. Service providers can use the module to tell their customers about new tariff plans, services, or promotions. The location and contents of the module will be configured in a separate section. The feature will be released in winter 2019-2020.
When developing BILLmanager 6 we faced many difficulties, one of them is a deep interrelation between the backend and frontend, the web-interface and application software. We had to make changes to the backend or adjust to its limitations, and do not implement new ideas. Moreover, the current API doesn’t allow providers to create custom interfaces for their Client areas.
The new API will help separate the frontend from the backend. The frontend will send calls to API and the request will be redirected to required services and databases. With the new API, we will develop new product features faster and our partners will use their own web-interfaces.
We are going to introduce the new API in summer, together with the mobile version of the client area. We will provide detailed instruction for a step-by-step upgrade to the new API and will support the previous version for several years.
Together with the new API, we switch BILLmanager to the microservice architecture. A new version will allow you to distribute services to different servers and configure balancing between them increasing productivity and stability even in the case of heavy load. We will switch to microservices step by step up till 2021.