Organizations that make use of third-party software products need to maintain their licenses to avoid running afoul of the vendor. As a major provider of enterprise software solutions, Microsoft is motivated to ensure that all of its products are being used legitimately and are licensed correctly. To meet that goal, the company has instituted the Microsoft True-Up process that is required to be followed by enterprise clients.
What is the Microsoft True-Up Process?
The Microsoft True-Up is a yearly exercise during which customers are asked to align their Enterprise Agreement (EA) with the total number of licenses that they have added in the previous 12 months. The True-Up is an inventory of all the qualified desktops, users, and processors added to your organization for the year. It also encompasses any additional Microsoft products added to your environment that require a license.
Performing a Microsoft True-Up
An annual True-Up only applies to products that have already been licensed under your current Enterprise Agreement. The True-Up order must be received by Microsoft in the period between 60 and 30 days before the enrollment anniversary. The following schedule is recommended in Microsoft’s True-Up guide which is available as a downloadable PDF file.
- 120 days from the enrollment anniversary, you should be reviewing your software, hardware, and Online Services purchases. You may be contacted by the Microsoft account team to discuss the coming True-Up.
- 90 days from the anniversary, you should contact your Microsoft account team or reseller to review licensing changes that have been discovered.
- 60 days out, the reseller or Microsoft team will complete a standard True-Up order reflecting changes to your Enterprise Agreement and offer it for review.
- Between 60 and 30 days before the anniversary, the finalized True-Up order will be reviewed by the account team and placed with Microsoft.
- Right before the anniversary date, the True-Up order will be processed and any changes to license counts recorded.
Microsoft True-Up Questions
Microsoft suggests that answering the following questions will provide the information required for the annual True-Up.
- Were any acquisitions made in the previous year?
- Did the user or computer base grow?
- Were more servers added or clustered?
- Have any users transitioned between on-premises and Online Services subscriptions?
- Were any Online Services subscriptions reserved before use?
- Have any virtualized server or desktop environments been deployed?
- Have any servers been designated for warm or hot disaster recovery?
Best Practices for a Microsoft True-Up
While the impetus for the True-Up might be Microsoft’s desire to be fully compensated for their software, there are potential benefits for customers as well. An annual True-Up requires you to keep an updated inventory so you can manage and track users of Microsoft products.
By tracking your inventory, you can obtain information that allows a company to:
- Downgrade to a less-expensive enterprise plan;
- Remove excess and inactive licenses;
- Eliminate licenses for ex-employees.
Aligning your actual inventory with your Enterprise Agreement can reduce your company’s expenses for Microsoft products by paying for fewer subscriptions. In some cases, the results from a True-Up may influence the decision to move from an Enterprise Agreement to a more flexible Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program.
The key to a successful True-Up that accurately reflects usage throughout the environment is a robust inventory that provides the necessary information regarding Microsoft products.
If True-Ups are not completed on time, Microsoft may decide to conduct a licensing audit. It’s in an organization’s best interest to plan and conduct the True-Up on schedule.
How SQL Inventory Manager Can Help
In large and complex computing environments, it may be difficult to conduct True-Ups to cover the variety of products obtained under Enterprise Agreements. The cloud and virtualization have complicated the process of inventorying systems accurately.
SQL Inventory Manager can be instrumental in performing a Microsoft True-Up of an organization’s SQL Server environment. The tool enables an organization to gain a complete picture of their on-premises, virtual, and cloud database instances.
Tracking licenses is facilitated by viewing lists of builds, versions, and editions to adhere to Microsoft’s licensing compliance. Tags and annotations can be used to organize servers and use enterprise inventory more efficiently.
SQL Inventory Manager can be used to scan networks for servers and database instances. Automatic scans can be scheduled to ensure that new systems will be discovered to help guard against server sprawl.
The tool also provides the ability to perform daily health checks and generate email alerts based on a variety of server indicators. It’s an excellent tool for maintaining control of a SQL Server environment and successfully performing a Microsoft True-Up.