Platypus technical support and printing will be closed on Monday, May 27th, 2013 for Memorial Day. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, May 28th, at 8:00 AM CDT.
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Two new integrations have been posted in the integrations section of the support site (https://support.ispbilling.com).
Cacti – (http://www.cacti.net) is a complete network graphing solution designed to harness the power of RRDTool’s data storage and graphing functionality. Cacti provides a fast poller, advanced graph templating, multiple data acquisition methods, and user management features out of the box. All of this is wrapped in an intuitive, easy to use interface that makes sense for LAN-sized installations up to complex networks with hundreds of devices.
Scripts included will allow you to add and remove devices automatically from Platypus as well as view the graph via a command button from within the Platypus interface.
Simple DNS Plus – (http://www.simpledns.com) is an easy to use DNS server for Windows. It has the ability to get DNS records from a SQL datasource.
Examples included will return an IP address when given a hostname or a hostname when given an IP.
When used together, Platypus can send add an end-user’s device to Cacti for monitoring using an internal hostname (even when using DHCP assigned addresses) and when Cacti goes to monitor the device, it will retrieve its current IP Address from Simple DNS Plus.
The next release of Platypus will automatically populate an ip_address column on the radius_data table so that the ip_address of the customer is always up to date.
Most ISPs go with an off the shelf billing product when starting out. It can inexpensive, familiar and it often comes recommended by their accountant due to its popularity. For most ISPs, homegrown or store bought software tends to work well until they reach a few hundred customers. At that point, most find themselves wanting a solution that handles more as the burden of billing consumes more and more hours each month.
That is where industry specific billing solutions such as Platypus excel. Not only can Platypus handle your billing, it can handle your business. Below are a few talking points that I usually cover when I discuss billing with a customer still using homegrown or off the shelf solutions.
*External System Integration – Platypus knows your customers. It knows what they are paying for, when they don’t pay and how fast they should be able to go. Our external system integration allows us to share this information with routers, customer premise equipment, email servers and more using our standard integrations. This allows you to not only be able to turn customers on and off automatically based on account status, but also control their speed and bill for their usage.
*Trouble Ticketing – With a built in trouble ticketing system, all of your customer information can be found in a single location. Use Platypus to communicate with your customers via email, keeping a full account history right in the system. Track calls, make customer notes or search tickets to quickly find old support incidents for this customer or other customers with similar issues, thus reducing support costs. A built in knowledge base can be utilized by staff and customers alike.
*Online Account Management – Platypus provides both a staff and customer interface that can be accessed via the web. This allows customers to view and pay their invoices online, manage their email accounts and view their tickets online.
*Credit Card / E-Check Integration – Platypus integrates with a number of online gateways such as IPPay, ProPay, Authorize.net to process all of your charges with a single click. Integrating with multiple gateways allows you to shop for the best processing rate.
*True Recurring Billing Support – While some software seems to support recurring billing, most off the shelf software has its limitations. When pricing changes, transactions must be edited in order to reflect the new pricing. Not with Platypus. Platypus is a recurring billing system, first and foremost. With Platypus, you define the rate plan once, tell it what services it includes and how you want it to bill. When it comes time to update pricing, there’s only one place that has to be changed.
*And More – While I won’t cover all of the features of Platypus in this post, the above gives you a good idea of why you should look for an industry specific solution to manage your business. In addition to the above, Platypus can manage bonuses and commissions, enforce contracts, allow for promotional rates, send both email and PDF statements, export reports for FCC 477 reporting and more.
While Platypus can’t always be a complete replacement for general accounting software in your organization, it can handle all of your accounts receivable needs. Most customers keep their existing accounting software for accounts payable and general ledger entries based off of reports generated by Platypus.
I hope this helps you understand how Platypus can better manage your customer base and gives you more time to concentrate on other areas in your business.
Platypus Product Manager
We are closing the Platypus ISP Billing Forums effective today.
A few years ago, we opened our forums with the hope that customers would communicate and share ideas. While there was some participation, most visitors were looking for documentation that could be found on our support site, not our forums. While we aren’t giving up on community contributions, we felt like the forums caused confusion due to low traffic, separate logins and disjoint content.
We are working to reorganize Platypus support documentation for items such as scripts, integrations and reports in order to make it easier to find and share. We feel like the closing of the forums will assist in this goal.
As always, our support team is available via phone and email to assist with any Platypus related questions.
Below is the Holiday Schedule for Platypus Support and Printing in Central Standard Time:
In preparation for our MikroTik MUM show last week in New Orleans, we wrote an integration guide for using MikroTik in conjunction with Platypus and RADIUS to authenticate users, control their speed and provide usage reporting.
This document covers using the HotSpot configuration on the MikroTik to transparently authenticate users by MAC address and optionally redirect them to the Platypus Web Interface for payment if their account is suspended for non-payment using a captive portal / walled garden approach.
In addition to controlling access, you can also use this configuration to bill end users for over usage and provide usage updates throughout the month.
You can find the documentation on our support site below:
Platypus support and printing will be closed on Monday, September 3rd, 2012 for Labor Day. We will resume normal support hours on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 at 8:00AM Central.
Thanks for being a customer and enjoy the holiday!
Starting Monday, August 13th, Platypus technical support will be available between the hours of 8:00AM and 6:00PM Central, Monday – Friday via email and telephone.
The change in support hours will allow us to more closely align support and development to maximize their collective efforts as well as provide additional support personnel for when call volumes are the greatest.
Platypus 5 is not compatible with SQL Server 2012
As is standard with Microsoft SQL Server, backwards compatibility is only maintained for the previous two versions. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 has compatibility modes for both SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008.
Platypus 5 was released in 2004, prior to Microsoft releasing SQL Server 2005. Due to changes that were implemented in SQL Server 2005 and above, Platypus 5 required that the compatibility level on database be set to 80 (SQL 2000). This option is no longer available in SQL Server 2012.
Due to the changes in SQL Server 2012, customers who are using Platypus 5 should not upgrade to SQL Server 2012 prior to upgrading Platypus to Platypus 6 or higher.
Customers wishing to use Platypus 6 on SQL Server 2012 may have to contact support for updated stored procedures. Platypus 7 has been tested and is fully compatible with SQL Server 2012.
Automate the management and control over your network
For years, Platypus has been able to integrate with external systems, such as RADIUS, to manage bandwidth for end users. This could be done in various configurations, depending on the equipment present on the network. While this solution works well, it does have a learning curve that many WISPs do not have the manpower to master. In addition, it can’t be used to manage the bandwidth for the ENTIRE network and usage information isn’t always available.
In order to provide a bandwidth management service that is simple to use and deploy, Platypus has partnered with The Mesh Networks to provide a hardware solution called The NetProfit™ System that is capable of managing not only individual end users, but your network bandwidth as a whole. This hardware solution is deployed between the Internet and your end users and controls the speed at the head end of the network. This system is fully integrated into the Platypus ISP Billing System and once installed the global settings for each tier can be a “Set & Forget” operation.
- Integrated Speed Control for Customers
- Usage Tracking
- Monthly Bandwidth Limits
- Usage Notifications
- Usage Based Billing
- Automated Disconnects
- Captive Portal for Non-Payment
- IP or Username (DHCP) Based Configuration
- Simplifies Customer Installation
- Online Upgrade Capability for Customers
- Gateway and Traffic Controller Hardware
- Cloud-based Configuration
- Increased Quality of Service (QOS) for All Users
- Addresses Abuse Issues
- Ideal for Enforcing Speed Limits with Mixed Equipment
- Dynamic Quotas
We are currently looking for WISPs who are interested in deploying this system on their network. As an incentive, we will provide the first 60 days of service at no charge to the first few eligible customers. Please contact support or sales if you are interested in trying this solution in your environment.