How to Move From an EA to CSP

Preparing to Migrate to CSP

You’ve come to the conclusion that Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is something that you’re on board with, and now it’s time to get your data packed and ready for the big move from the popular and traditional Enterprise Agreement (EA) to your CSP.Before you get excited about this transition, you’ll need to ensure this next step is a smooth one, or else you might find your software budget blown in unforeseen spending spikes.At MetrixData 360, we have helped many of our clients move effectively to new cloud platforms, and we’ve seen several elements all successful migrations have in common. Don’t forget to check out our CSP Switching course to if you’re looking to take a deeper dive into the nuances of moving your licensing into the CSP.


Preparation is always key, especially when it comes to something like moving to your new CSP platform. You wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint and a plan, and the same premise applies here.

Make sure you have a business plan; something that outlines the resources you’ll need. If you are signing up for Direct CSP, consider the following:

  • How much are you planning to sell and the marketing strategy you’ll be using to sell?
  • Consider if you can meet the requirements to first obtain and maintain your status as a Direct CSP partner. You will need to sell a minimum of 5,000 Microsoft 365 seats per year and will have at least one Microsoft Gold Productivity Competency.
  • Will you be able to provide top quality customer support and maintenance?
  • What sort of automatic billing system will you sign up for? It may be tempting to go with manual billing but you can easily lose control of this billing method as your business grows.

Signs It’s Time

One key element of switching from EA to CSP is timing, and there are some telling signs that you can rely on to indicate when it is a good time to move:

  • Your Size:

    The best time to move is when your organization is still smaller than 500 users, since the EA requires a minimum 500 seats, so even if you have less than 500 employees, you’ll still be stuck paying for those extra seats. Moving to the CSP will ensure you only pay for what you’re going to use.

  • Your Support Calls to Microsoft Are Lacking:

    Support is an important element in ensuring the health of your environment but if Microsoft’s 1-800 tech support number is providing you with little assistance besides the occasional ‘your call is important to us, please hold’, then leaving might be best for your company. In the CSP program, if you decide to become an Indirect CSP Reseller, your CSP Distributor will directly deal with your needs so you won’t be struggling to get Microsoft’s attention.

  • Your Business Sees Fluctuations:

    Does your business have a trackable busy season? Do you hire seasonal workers and is the number of staff shifting up and down to meet the demand of the workload? Then it might be time to consider moving to CSP since the EA doesn’t provide nearly the same level of flexibility to accommodate these changes to your business. With the EA, you would simply be stuck paying for the maximum number of seats all year.

Indirect CSP or Direct CSP

There are two models of CSP that you can pick from: Direct and Indirect. It’s important you pick between the two models carefully, so that it can best serve your business’s needs.

  • Direct CSP:

    A Direct CSP Partner means that you’ll purchase from Microsoft and sell to your customers. Becoming a Direct CSP Partner means meeting certain requirements. The whole onboarding process will take about 4 months.

  • Indirect CSP:

    Overall a much faster way to purchase CSP, since you aren’t working directly with Microsoft. Instead, you’ll be purchasing your tools and platforms from your provider. This arrangement has many appealing benefits, including giving you access to the support of your Distributor and minimal expectations with major reward potential.

Picking Your Partner

If you’ve decided to work with a Direct CSP partner, your next step will be picking which Direct CSP provider is right for you. While each CSP partner will bring their own personal touch to their platform, here are some general topics of consideration when picking your CSP partner:

  • What is the size of the organization you’re considering?

    Larger companies will often provide you with more options when it comes to the types of products and can prove more stable. They will also be better at getting Microsoft’s attention. However, smaller companies may be able to respond to your requests faster and may be more eager to keep your business.

  • How Future Proof is Your Provider?

    Is the provider equipped to handle the latest and greatest technology or are they able to deal with older versions of certain products that your company and customers may still be running?

  • Is the Partner Willing to Hash Out Pre-sales Details like Design and Pricing?

    Knowing that you can work with your partner to provide the service you or your customers need is a key component to a successful CSP.

  • What Support does the Provider Offer?

    Good support is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship with your distributor and customers. Knowing that there is a working support system in place helps to provide confidence in your product and peace of mind during unforeseen issues and requests.

Your New Home on the Cloud Awaits!

It’s an exciting time, moving to the Cloud where you can shake off the restriction of the EA, but it’s important that you don’t make the move too hastily -- you don’t want to be stuck in a bad business arrangement that will only make you long for the days of your EA.

At MetrixData 360, we know how confusing this time can be. We have helped many of our clients transition to a Cloud Platform safely and at a low and reasonable cost.

Now that you’re prepared for the move, the next step is to find out if an Indirect or Direct CSP partnership with Microsoft is right for you, you can learn more by checking out our article: Direct vs. Indirect CSP: Which Plan is Right for You?

Direct vs. Indirect CSP: Which Plan is Right for You?

With so many businesses partially, if not fully, running on the Cloud, Microsoft’s new Cloud Service Provider (CSP) Program is an enticing offer, even for Microsoft’s most loyal Enterprise Agreement customers. Microsoft offers two CSP options for Microsoft partners who want to get on board, Indirect and Direct. But which of the choices is right for you? Today we’re pitting the two head to head. It’s Direct vs. Indirect CSP.

At MetrixData 360, we want you to transition to your new CSP situation as smoothly as possible and have helped our clients adjust to this new life in the clouds. So today we thought we’d share some of the differences between each of the platforms to help you determine which best fits with your organization.

Direct vs. Indirect CSP

What is Indirect CSP?

With Indirect CSP, the requirements are simple: you will be a reseller of Microsoft products to customers while maintaining a relationship with your indirect provider or distributor. The provider, in turn, will deal with Microsoft.

It is likely to be the far more popular option, as Microsoft expects somewhere between 80% to 90% of its CSP subscribers to become Indirect Partners. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of being an Indirect CSP Reseller.

Added Services and Support from the Distributor

As a Reseller, your Distributor will provide you with a number of services and support, including:

  • Technical training and assistance.
  • Marketing products and services.
  • Financial and credit terms.
  • Microsoft’s API integration to help place incoming orders for Cloud licenses.
  • Help transitioning into a cloud model or, if you already are cloud-engaged, your distributor will help you grow your value with your customers such as having a pre-sales consultant joining you on complicated deals.

This arrangement will prove most ideal for smaller organizations who will be able to reap the benefits of having their larger distributor’s resources at their disposal.

Profit Margin

As an Indirect CSP, you will buy your SKU from the distributor and you will be allowed to sell your products to your customers with a margin of profit of your choosing. It should also be taken into consideration that Indirect Resellers can expect recurring revenue as Microsoft moves its market exclusively to the Cloud. While Cloud-only products are their inevitable business plan, Microsoft doesn’t have the staff to fully support this kind of infrastructure, which is where this CSP has come from. It will be the foundation of a budding cloud reselling ecosystem and this is your chance to be a part of that.

Quick and Yet Controlled Process

You can get started quickly with the Indirect CSP partner program and once you’re there, you can evolve your business at a controlled pace, allowing you to focus primarily on your investments. The indirect CSP model will allow you to team up with a larger and more experienced provider while at the same time owning the customer relationship and experience. Considering the few qualifications you need to get started, this represents a relatively low investment for a high return.


Through being an Indirect Reseller, you will begin to earn incentives straight from Microsoft. You will also receive the Partner of Record Status (POR), and you’ll also receive revenue recognition to be put towards your Microsoft Partner Status. This status and recognition will be on par with that of the Direct CSP model.

What Is a Direct CSP?

Unlike with Indirect CSP, in this model you will act as a Distributor, who will deal directly with Microsoft while also maintaining a relationship with your Resellers. This model is best suited for larger and more mature companies who have expertise in customer service. Below are some of the things you’ll have to consider if being a Direct CSP seems like a good fit for you.

Margin and Investment

Distributors can create a margin of profit for Microsoft’s product, sometimes as high as 20%. However, becoming a Direct Partner will require some level of investment, ranging anywhere from $50K to over $1M in investments.

Complicated Process

If you are going solo as a Direct CSP partner, the process can be quite rigorous and complicated, often taking as long as four months. In order to qualify for being a Direct CSP partner, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You need to be an active Microsoft Partner with a Network ID.
  • You will need to be capable of providing your customers with 24-hour service.
  • You’ll need to purchase a Microsoft support plan and you’ll need to be able to pass a credit check before you can purchase the plan.
  • You’ll need to have at least one managed service already, an IP service, or a customer solution application.
  • You need to have a solid customer billing structure in place. Manual billing will not cut it.
  • You’ll need to maintain at least one Microsoft Gold Productivity Competency.
  • As a Direct CSP Distributor, you’ll be expected to manually manage your licenses through the Microsoft Partner Network Center.

Proactive Reductions

Before you begin the long process of applying to Direct CSP, it’s important to note that in most markets Microsoft is actively striving to reduce their number of existing Direct Partners instead of approving more. Although Microsoft recognizes both partner models and provides revenue recognition that is weighted the same, it may be very difficult to become a Direct CSP partner with Microsoft.

Looking for an opportunity to save roughly 20 to30% of your current spend on software licensing? Learn how software asset management can help in our article: Getting Started: Implementing Software Asset Management.

Choose the Right Solution for Your Business

Signing up for Microsoft’s CSP Partner Program can represent a new chapter in the growth of your business. Picking which one is right for you will prevent you from biting off more than you can chew and will allow you to benefit from this new solution.

At MetrixData 360, we have helped our clients through the trickiest of positions in regards to their software licensing when it comes to Microsoft and we can help you transition to this new CSP platform smoothly. If you’d like more information, you can contact us and a Client Success Manager will be in contact with you in under 24 hours.

Licensing a Disaster Recovery Environment in Oracle

Nothing calls for disaster recovery (DR) more than 2020, which makes this the perfect time to consider disaster recovery environments.

However, when it comes to Oracle, it can be tricky to figure out what your contracts allow you to do when it comes to creating a proper DR environment for even the stickiest of situations.

The last thing you want is to run up against compliance issues with Oracle, who is known for their brutal software audits, especially in matters of disaster recovery. At MetrixData 360, we are experts in both managing our client’s compliance issues as they arise and proactively ensuring they never occur again.

Here’s what our Software Asset Management Experts have to say about how to properly license your DR environments.

What is a Disaster Recovery Environment?

Every business has mission-critical information they need to protect and keep accessible at all times. This is why every business should have some form of disaster recovery in place. Disaster recovery is a method of security planning with the goal of protecting that data from any significant negative events.

Common types of disaster scenarios are as follows:

  • Application Failure:

    Commonly seen as a result of hardware or software configuration. DR solutions around this scenario involve application backups or active-to-active failovers.
  • Network Failure:

    When you have a full or partial Cloud environment, losing connection to this environment could be the result of power outages or performance issues. DR solutions for this scenario involve strengthening the connection to the organization’s network or creating multiple access points to the network in order to create sufficient redundancies.
  • Data Center Failure:

    Often seen as a result of mass power outages or natural disasters, which results in the loss of connection to whole data centers or domains. Creating a DR solution for this event involves potentially deploying applications across multiple domains if you have them.
  • Region Fail:

    Most likely the result of the most severe disasters, when whole regions lose either power or connection of their network. To protect against this event, you can deploy your workload over multiple Oracle Cloud infrastructures in a variety of regions.

It is the IT department’s job to ensure that this protected data is constantly updated, maintained, and easy to access, so that the organization can continue to run as normally as possible under the circumstances. Although smaller industries may be hesitant to invest in funding for a situation that has yet to occur, it is usually better to be safe than sorry.

While Disaster Recovery as a whole involves many different working elements including a DR plan, personnel, actions for dealing with financial and legal issues etc., this blog post will only be focusing on how to license the Disaster Recovery environments that organizations have built.

How to License a Disaster Recovery Environment

Since your DR environment is only used when disaster strikes, your organization (hopefully) does not have to use it constantly, in which case it may feel like you don’t have to license the environment. However, to assess whether your DR environment needs to be licensed, consider the following:

  • Check Your License Agreement and the General Terms:

    All the rules that you need to adhere to can be found in your licensing agreement, or your Oracle Master Agreement (OMA) if you have one, and any other documents that the agreement refers to.   There may be versions of basic contracts online, but these might be out of date and may not accommodate for any unique licensing metric you may have. For instance, some companies have a licensing metric based on your company’s annual revenue or the number of employees that you have. If there is any language in the contract that is ambiguous, you should seek out clarification from your Oracle rep.
  • Remote Mirroring:

    With Remote Mirroring, your data is stored in an identical storage unit or shared disk array in a dispersed location through the use of solutions like Veritas Volume Replicator, EMC SRDF, Legato Relator, and EMS StorageEdge. In this instance, both the mirrored database and the unit its replicating will need the same licenses.
  • Standby:

    With Standby, copies of the primary database are maintained on standby servers, which are dispersed geographically and any changes or updates the primary server experiences is replicated in the standby databases. In this situation, both the standby and the primary databases need to be fully licensed using the same metric.
  • Backups:

    Backups refer to a copy of a physical database structure. In the event of the loss of the original data, the backup files will be used to reconstruct the lost information. This copy may include critical elements of the database’s physical structure like control and data files and redo logs and can be stored either on a server, a storage array, a disk drive etc. Oracle will allow you to keep these copies in a storage device without needing to purchase a license but when the disaster occurs, and the data is taken from storage and installed onto the recovery server, you’ll need a license.
  • Your Oracle Licenses Match:

    It’s important to make sure that your DR servers have the same licensing metric (Processor or Named User Plus) as the primary server that it is supporting. DRs and their primary servers must also have matching database options and packs. When it comes to this coordination, you’ll find that Oracle is particularly unyielding and so it is important that any mismatching licensing is addressed before you are confronted with it during an audit.

Situations Where Licensing Isn’t Required for Disaster Recovery

While typically Oracle requires you to license any and all environments where their software is present, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

  • Failovers:

    A failover is where a database that is running on a primary server can be moved to a secondary server in the event that the primary fails. Oracle will allow a database to be run on this unlicensed secondary server for 10 days.   This scenario is allowed when both the primary and the secondary servers exist within a single cluster and share a single disk array or storage device. In this scenario only the failover server is free and once the primary server has been repaired, the database is required to switch back to the primary server. It’s also important to note that Oracle does not equate one day to 24 hours scattered over a long period of time. If the failover server is active for an hour one day and two hours another day, that counts for two days. You are only allowed to have one free failover node per cluster for up to ten separate days even if you have multiple nodes configured as failovers. This scenario also does not apply to VMware environments. If you would like to license your failover environments, you’ll need matching licenses to the databases the failovers will be supporting.
  • Testing:

    Oracle’s customers are allowed to use tape and disk backups of databases for the purpose of recreating that database for the use of testing. You can run this duplicated database on an unlicensed server four times per year, with a time restriction of two days for each test, at which time the database must either be removed from the server or will be considered licensable in the eyes of Oracle.

Be Ready for Anything with Properly Licensed Disaster Recovery

It’s always better to be prepared, whether that is getting your software environment ready for a natural disaster or making sure your licenses are orderly in the event of a software audit from Oracle.

It would be a terrible situation to discover that the very thing that was supposed to be there to keep your business afloat could cost you a staggering amount in compliance gap thanks to under licensed servers.

At MetrixData 360, our goal is to ensure you only pay for what you need to and to fight for your best interests when you go up against Oracle. If you’d like to know more about what our services entail when it comes to your Oracle Licensing, you can check out our Contract Negotiation page for more information.

Data Lakes and How They Can Help with SAM

“Where do we store our data?”

It’s a question that comes up constantly in the tech world and serves as a fundamental pillar of the software infrastructure of organizations everywhere. The way that data is stored, the speed with which it can be accessed, and the way with which it is protected are all critical for businesses to function properly. Data lakes are the newest means of storing data, but how does it work? Are they right for you? And, is there a way they can actually help you with software asset management?

At MetrixData 360, we have found that data lakes can be particularly useful in our efforts to wrangle our client’s software environment into order.

What is a Data Lake?

For a long time, data was stored in warehouses, a familiar term for the veterans of the tech industry. While it may be easy to assume that a data lake is just the newer version of the data warehouse, there are a few distinct differences.

A data lake can be thought of similarly to real-life lake water. The data gathered in a data lake might stream in from a variety of sources, accepting and retaining data from all sources, types, and schemas.

This data may not be formatted in any way, with no hierarchy or organization to speak of, instead it is in its rawest form, neither processed or analysed. This allows businesses to apply the scheme and organization model that best fits the nature of the data that data lake houses, often proving both its greatest strength and its biggest drawback.

How a Data Lake Works

The sheer volume of data that companies have can be overwhelming and traditional data management isn’t equipped to handle big data or its analysis. Data warehouses are designed much like their namesake, with rows and columns of organized data. While this provides limitations like lack of flexibility and the requirement to standardize all data that is stored in these warehouses, they do allow for quicker operations.

In contrast, data lakes are commonly built using either Hadoop or through the use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Both AWS and Azure offer data lake architectures to store and analyze current data.

Data lakes provide their structure through one or two methods:

  • Metadata stores
  • Self-describing data formats

Why is a Data Lake Needed?

If you’re working on a big data project, you’ll need to know what data you’ll need to reach your desired outcome and you’ll also need to get your hands on the right data to analyze and leverage to better achieve those outcomes.

One of the major benefits of data lakes is their ability to provide cheap scalability, allowing you to keep large quantities of data for a good price. Data lakes can allow you to draw from a variety of data, and in turn store any data you wish on the data lake and create unlimited ways to query in search for data, providing you with tremendous flexibility. The use of data lakes can help break down data silos and allow for a unified view of data across your organization.

Data Lakes and Software Asset Management

Data lakes can prove quite useful in assisting efforts surrounding software asset management if executed correctly. Auditors don’t typically look to data lakes when conducting a software audit at the moment. We suspect they will become a target of scrutiny in the future, as their use becomes more sophisticated and wide-spread.

A good example of when these data lakes might be accessed is in regards to hybrid use benefits in Azure, which allows you to bring your own on-prem licenses to Azure at a discounted rate.

Technically speaking, there would be nothing stopping your company from using hybrid benefits to deploy software on Azure while still having it installed on-prem, and Microsoft is currently turning a blind eye to this loophole, trusting that you’ll respect your arrangement.

However, with the rough year 2020 has proven for everyone (except Zoom), Microsoft may be eager to make up losses by conducting audits in new areas. This is why it is also best to understand how the data stored in these data lakes can be used to your advantage.

Data lakes can help you hunt down Shadow IT and they can prove to be an excellent resource in the event of an audit. This is because they can often provide missing data such as VM guest to host relationships, processors, cores, perhaps even unique details about your software environment.

They can also be used as a means of tracking cloud usage and cross-referencing other data sources. In order to use your data lakes to serve your SAM goals, you’ll need to make sure the data is accurate and complete, you can do so by considering the following:

  • Cross Reference Data Lake Resources with that of Your Active Directory:

    Your AD is one of the first areas that will be consulted in the event of a software audit. Within a company, the AD is often disorganized and is far from an accurate picture of your whole environment. Which is what our Active Directory Reporting Tool is for, allowing you to create an easy to understand chart of assets within your AD. For more information you can check out our AD reporting tool, here.
  • Compare with Your Inventory Tools such as ServiceNow CMDB:

    SAM tools often provide the basis of a company’s software asset management solutions and are often used during a software audit, they fail to provide an accurate picture of your data. For this reason, it is important that you verify their accuracy.

Get Your Data Lakes to Serve Your Goals

Data lakes are an excellent way to keep your resources stored and organized. It’s important to be aware of how data lakes can potentially help your organization remain in compliance with software vendors and keep your software infrastructure organized by assisting in software asset management.

Software Asset Management in and of itself is a great way to allow your organization to discover an estimated 20% to 30% of savings pulled out of their current IT spend through simply cutting out unnecessary licensing and making sure that costly fines and unbudgeted spending are avoided.

If you’d like to learn more about how Software Asset Management can benefit your company, you can check out Software Asset Management for Beginners.

Pros and Cons of Power BI

Microsoft’s budding new thought child is Power BI and although Microsoft is quick to sing its praises, what sort of tangible benefits does it hold for you and your company? There’s no point jumping on this Power BI band wagon if it doesn’t match your business goals and needs. At MetrixData360, we believe in educating our customers and making sure that they are only buying the software licenses that they need, and not what the sales rep says they want. So today, we’ll go over everything you need to know to make sure Power BI is the right investment for your company.

What is Power BI?

Officially released in 2015, Power BI is an umbrella term used to describe a number of data collection apps that is offered by Microsoft for the purpose of analyzing and visualizing raw data. Praised by Gartner for its exceptional analytics and business intelligent platforms, Power BI has come to be known as a business essential tool for customers of all sizes and every industry, from construction to finance to insurance. The apps that comprise the interwoven matrix of Power BI include:


  • Power Pivot: Allows you to import data from a variety of sources
  • Power Query: Allows you to transform data
  • Power View: Helps you to visualize the data that has been compiled
  • Power Map: A nice 3D feature that can create a better visualization of the data
  • Power Q&A: An engine for question/answer style interactions with your data


Together, with all these interweaving parts, Power BI customers can perform such demanding tasks like examining what-if scenarios, conveying business models in an easy to read format, and forecasting business requirements.

Pros of Power BI


You don’t have to worry about breaking the bank when you sign up for Power BI, as Power BI even has free alternatives such as the Power BI Desktop which can be downloaded to create interactive reports. However, these free versions are quite simplistic and limited when compared to Power BI’s true processing potential, that performance capability is saved for the paid versions. Pricier models like Power BI Pro allow users to share data and dashboards and Power BI premium allows for much deeper and meaningful insights, as well as on-prem reporting. If you already have an Office 365 plan, you may have Power BI as an added feature at no additional cost. Want to know how Power BI relates to SQL Server Licensing? Check out our article: SQL Server Licensing Explained for more information.


If you have a very specific look you’d like to achieve, then Power BI can make it happen, offering a variety of custom visualizations, available in the Microsoft marketplace in addition to general visualizations used for polishing up reports and dashboards.

Excel-User Friendly

You have the option of uploading and viewing your data in Excel if that’s your thing. Power BI is built using the same interface as Excel, so if you know your way around an Excel spreadsheet, then you’ll find using Power BI to be both easy and familiar. Even if you aren’t exactly an Excel wizard, Microsoft has a wide array of tutorials, blog posts, and other available learning resources to assist you up this learning curve. There’s also a budding community of Power BI experts you can turn to if you need an extra helping hand.

Cons of Power BI

Difficult to Use

Despite the wide array of resources available, Microsoft is known for its hyper complexity when it comes to their software and Power BI is no exception. Since Power BI is merely a collection of apps, that means to properly maintain Power BI and get it to create the reports your looking for, it will require learning what each item in Power BI’s ensemble does and how it relates to the rest of the structure. This also means if Power BI isn’t working, you’ll have to go through the task of figuring out which app is broken and why.

Not Very Versatile

The expression language that Power BI uses is DAX , which is not known for being the easiest language to work with or master, once again adding to the learning curve. When compared to its competitor Tableau, Power BI is often viewed by customers as less flexible due to the fact that at the end of the day it is designed mainly for visualization purposes. Customers need to be careful to account for unique fields that can create inaccurate graphics and tables.

Large Data Sets Cause Lags

There is a cap for the digestible material that Power BI can handle at any given time, especially if you only have the free version at your disposal. If your business is on the smaller side, this limited space may not be an issue, and even such problems may be counteracted with a few space saving techniques such as writing simpler queries or splitting the queries into several different components. If you want to expand your Power BI capacity, you’ll have to upgrade to a pricier model.


Power BI has become an excellent and essential tool for many companies but just because it is the popular option doesn’t mean its necessarily the option that will best suit your business needs. At MetrixData 360, we teach that you should buy based on the data, based on what you know you need and not on what you think you want. Which of course, is where software asset management comes in. SAM is an excellent way of gaining control over your delicate software infrastructure by knowing what you have, what you need to license, and whether you are using your software in accordance to the licenses that you have. If you’d like to know more about what SAM is and how it can save you money, you can check out our article: Software Asset Management: Its Importance, Purpose, and How it Saves Money.

    Getting Ready to Certify Your ULA

    Oracle’s ULA: Ready to Leave or Willing to Stay?
    Consequences of Both

    When your company is in an Oracle Unlimited License Agreement (ULA), the deal is that you hand over a single up-front payment and you get access to the licenses for a select set of Oracle products. With the volatile market, you may be asking if you should certify your ULA, and what it takes to complete an Oracle ULA Certification?

    Of those select products, you can order an unlimited number of licenses for a set period of time, either three years or five years. The only costs in between renewals are the maintenance fees, which are 25% of the cost of the license. There are many reasons an organization would find this set up appealing:

    • It provides predictability in terms of costs, giving organizations the opportunity to plan for that expense.
    • It’s ideal for heavy users of Oracle products.
    • It puts a wide variety of products on a single payment, making the process of purchasing licenses that much easier.
    • The risks of having your ULA audited are minor.
    • It is sometimes purchased for the preparation of a large, long term project to accommodate potential growth.

    Despite these advantages, the ULA can also be restrictive or even a trap for your company. Organizations might get into a ULA with the best intentions and end up staying in one simply because it’s easier to renew than to leave.

    There may come a point where the maintenance fees no longer make the ULA a suitable option and you think about getting out of the agreement.

    What does this shift look like?

    At MetrixData 360, we have been working through tricky licensing agreements with Oracle for many years and we want you to know what you can expect and how you can prepare.

    Why Certify Your ULA?


    Signing up for a three-year business plan is a great strategy for times of stability and predictability. However, COVID-19 mixed with its following recession and the threat of a second or third wave means that flexibility and the ability to roll with the punches will be a critical element to future business plans. This is something that the rigid structure of the ULA doesn’t provide.


    Freedom: Flexibility has become essential as our world is rocked by constant uncertainty but also when it comes to the constant shift of technology. The ULA is rather rigid in the products you can pick from, and if new products are released that would fit your organization better, you wouldn’t be able to simply add it to your ULA. When you are in your ULA, you will also experience pressure from Oracle towards products that don’t fit your needs but suit their agenda. ULA customers often experience pressure to move to Oracle’s Cloud products, for instance. You will also find that trying to negotiate the price and products of your ULA is particularly difficult. Getting out of the ULA, even temporarily, will give you the freedom to explore your alternatives.

    Cut Potential Costs

    Few businesses have gotten out of the pandemic unscathed and many people’s top priority is to pinch pennies for short term cash flow and avoid costs wherever possible. Extending your ULA can often be more costly than simply certifying out, especially when you take into account the fact that support costs can add up over time. This rising expense comes with no added value, Oracle is simply increasing the prices on products you may not even be using because they know you are chained to your chair. If you certify out now, you can also simply sign up for another ULA later when things are more stable.

    ULA and Audit Risks

    Staying with the ULA

    Oracle hasn’t been faring very well during 2020, as their Q4 report for 2020 has revealed with its release in mid-June. It doesn’t help that May, which was traditionally Oracle’s most lucrative month, was also the worst month of the pandemic.

    Oracle is currently faced with record low numbers and many customers are worried this will result in more audits. It certainly won’t result in fewer audits.

    While the products within your ULA might be safe, the products that are not a part of your ULA will be targeted. Since you have a ULA, members of your organization could have easily gotten mixed up about which products are covered under the ULA and which are not, meaning that you may be targeted for unlicensed products thinking that they were safe under the ULA.

    Certifying Your ULA

    When it comes to their ULA users, Oracle tends to be rather lenient and leaves you to your own devices (pun intended). You’re left in charge of keeping track of your own licenses and Oracle rarely bothers to check up on you.

    Many organizations, as a result, tend to lose track of their deployments. Employees will install Oracle products after having been granted little or no authorization, resulting in sprawl and shadow IT.

    As a result, when you are certifying out of your ULA and it comes time to declare how many licenses you have, Oracle will suspect that your declared number is little more than a guess. After losing the ensured revenue from your ULA, Oracle will happily make up for the losses by checking the state of your sprawl for potential compliance gaps.

    At the end of the audit, they might even propose you renew your ULA instead of paying for the compliance gap they find. In other words, once you certify out of your ULA, it’s safe to assume an audit will be coming your way in 6 to 18 months.

    What Do You Need To Do Before You Certify Your ULA?

    Before you get excited and drop the news on Oracle that you’re letting them go, you’ll need to make sure you have everything ready for your departure.

    1. Plan Your Exit

    It’s best that you start preparing for your exit well ahead of time, at least 12 months before your ULA is up for renewal. There’s nothing in your contract that says you can’t hand in your certification for your ULA much sooner than the expiration date, and the last thing you want to do is run past the due date and be forced to renew.

    2. Understand How You Certify Out

    The certification process itself is quite simple. You merely need to write a letter signed by a C-level executive of your company, complete with the number of licenses you are certifying, and it needs to be submitted within 30 days of your ULA’s expiration. Finding those numbers, on the other hand, will be easier said than done.

    3. Tell Your Team You Are Certifying Out

    Communication between departments is not always top priority in large organizations. It’s important you convey that you are getting out of Oracle’s ULA to any employees who might install Oracle products with the same carefree attitude they expressed while the ULA was still in place.

    4. Take Inventory and Perform a Self Audit

    This will be the quickest way to decide whether certifying out is the best thing for your business right now. It will keep you from having to guess your usage and exactly how much you’ll save by leaving your ULA.

    A self-audit will also ensure that you are compliant with any contracts you have with Oracle, and that the licenses you will be declaring are accurate. Now is the time to chase after any unknown information in regard to sprawl or shadow IT that may have cropped up under your ULA.

    This is important to do before you certify out in order to maintain control over the certification process.

    Oracle may want to take the lead by offering to certify you and it’s important you don’t let them. This will give them control over a process that they didn’t want to happen in the first place, and they will take as long as they wish.

    Get Control Over Your Software Spend

    There’s no need to keep a toxic relationship going if all your partner does is take and take, and it’s the same with your Oracle ULA.

    Perhaps at one point it served your company well but if the agreement has grown old and stale in your mouth then you should have the freedom to leave and explore your options, lest you be stuck paying for a ULA that is simply a waste of money.

    At MetrixData 360, we have your back throughout every step of this process. We can help you conduct a self-audit to create an accurate depiction of your deployment and usage, we know how to talk to Oracle so that you don’t feel pressured throughout these seemingly one-sided negotiations. We will teach you how to keep your head above water in the event of an Oracle audit.

    If you would like more information on how MetrixData 360 can help you through an Oracle ULA Certification, you can visit our Audit Defense page.

    Tips for Surviving a Microsoft EA True Up

    Tricks for your Microsoft EA True Up

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft, then you are probably familiar with the EA’s annual True-Up. It’s a straightforward way of condensing a year’s worth of headaches and frustrations around purchasing software licenses into a short period of only 90 days (although hopefully, you’re preparing earlier than that!).

    Since these true ups amount to such a large investment for enterprises, it is important that you remain in control of the situation and know what you can and can’t do. Often companies can feel trapped or chained to their chairs in these agreements but with MetrixData 360, we have helped many clients truly harness the potential of their EA. We’ve helped our enterprise clients cut down wastage in their EAs (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars have been removed from EA agreements), and we know how to dance this dance with Microsoft.
    So in this blog post, we will share some tricks from our experts.

    And don’t forget. At any point in reading this article, you would like some further explanation, check out our downloadable EA True Up Guide below:

    Tricks for your Microsoft EA True Up

    If you have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft, then you are probably familiar with the EA’s annual True-Up. It’s a straightforward way of condensing a year’s worth of headaches and frustrations around purchasing software licenses into a short period of only 90 days (although hopefully, you’re preparing earlier than that!).

    Since these true ups amount to such a large investment for enterprises, it is important that you remain in control of the situation and know what you can and can’t do. Often companies can feel trapped or chained to their chairs in these agreements but with MetrixData 360, we have helped many clients truly harness the potential of their EA. We’ve helped our enterprise clients cut down wastage in their EAs (sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars have been removed from EA agreements), and we know how to dance this dance with Microsoft.
    So in this blog post, we will share some tricks from our experts.

    And don’t forget. At any point in reading this article, you would like some further explanation, check out our downloadable EA True Up guide below:

    You Don’t Need to Fill Out Every True-Up Form that Comes Your Way

    If you have a reseller supporting you with your EA, then you may receive True-Up forms quite frequently — some of our clients report that they receive them on a monthly basis. You might feel compelled to fill each one of them out, either because your reseller encourages you to do so, and they know best, or because you’d rather not go up against Microsoft. However, unlike your annual True-Up, which will require a mandatory Update Statement (even if you haven’t added to your counts this year), these monthly True-Up forms are completely optional features that you don’t have to fill out.

    You Can True-Down to your Original Count…Or Zero!

    If this is not your first True-Up, you likely noticed that adding counts to your EA is easy – encouraged even – however, it can be very difficult to true-down or reduce your counts in any way. While it may be difficult, it is not impossible if you are following these steps:

    Know Your Data

    The first step of Truing-Down is to know what you are truing down to.
    There are many ways to check your counts:

    • in your Active Directory;
    • in your SCCM or your SAM Tool (only useful if you’re trying to find your Qualified Device Count); or
    • in your HR Systems and Email Accounts (only useful for finding your Qualified User Counts).

    You can also guess based on your number of employees, but while this is something most companies are forced to resort to, this is not something MetrixData 360 advises.

    Create a Value Gap

    Knowing your data will also allow you to create a Value Gap, and build your argument for truing down based upon cold, hard data. At MetrixData 360, we have built our tools for this task, which can significantly cut down your workload and your guessing.

    Start Preparing for Your Microsoft EA True Up Early

    You can True-Up pretty much up to the last second, but if you want to True Down, you will have to be prepared well ahead of time and adhere to the deadlines outlined in your agreement. Microsoft will only let you reduce your counts up until 30 days before your True-Up date, so you will have to be ready with your data and your arguments for Truing Down long before then.

    Check Your Original Counts

    When you are trying to reduce your counts in your EA, there are two things that really prove to be determining factors on how low you can go: if the product is an enterprise-wide purchase and if it is a subscription or a perpetual license.

    If you have an enterprise-wide purchase, the only way Microsoft will allow you to reduce your counts is by scaling back online service subscriptions down to their original number that you started with. For example, if your original EA asked for 500 subscriptions and the following year you grew to 1,000, the lowest you can reduce your count to is 500. However, if your purchase is not enterprise-wide, it is possible to reduce the counts, so long as the minimum requirements are maintained.

    Check Additional Products that are Available as Subscription Licenses

    There are a few different products which are included in the EA, such as Enterprise Products, Enterprise Online Services, Additional Products, Additional Products Online Services. Additional Products that have subscriptions can be reduced to a count of zero! We’ve pulled such a move before at MetrixData 360, which resulted in our client saving $800,000!

    Watch Out for Complicated Products

    While Microsoft may have products that are easy to use, there are, of course, the challenging ones that are difficult to wrap your head around, let alone manage. Make sure to pay close attention to your deployment data around these products, ensuring that you have a strong understanding of your contract’s language and deployment data. Some of Microsoft’s more complicated products include:

    At MetrixData 360, we put extensive effort into understanding both products and have a wide collection of material to read and tools to assist you in gaining a strong handle on these two products in your software environment.

    Need Help Getting Ready for Your True-Up?

    With your True-Up approaching, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Closing such deals could mean the difference between optimizing your spending and spending copious amounts of money that you don’t need to.

    The Microsoft reps may be nice, but there is only so much that they will be willing to help you save when their job is to make sure you do exactly the opposite. That is why you need someone who can support you and have your back during this engagement.

    MetrixData 360 is here for you. We have many Fortune 500 customers who we have helped to minimize the impact of their EA on their software budget.

    If you would like to learn more about getting ready for your Microsoft True-Up, you can download our free booklet, Preparing for a Microsoft True-Up.

    Properly Sizing Azure for Your Organization

    The Many Complexities of Azure Cloud Sizing

    Moving to Microsoft’s Azure can be an exciting experience, with so many services including File Storage and Machine Learning Analytics, SQL Databases, and Data Transfer, to name just a few. With so many infrastructure options in one place, moving to the cloud is becoming the obvious option for IT departments. Correctly sizing Azure is a vital first step to maintaining your IT budget. It’s like getting a new pair of shoes; you don’t want to waddle around in clown shoes, but you also will need something that doesn’t pinch your toes.

    Unfortunately, Azure is a large and complex system, meaning correctly sizing for your organization’s needs is no simple task. At MetrixData 360, we have provided our expert advice to many companies hoping to gain insights into how best to size their Azure environment. As a result, we have helped them maximize value from their Azure purchase. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to think about when purchasing the right Azure size for you.

    Different Azure Sizes for Your Virtual Machines

    Microsoft has 11 different Azure Series available, from the entry-level A-Series to the far more robust N-Series. Within each series, there are also multiple sizes of virtual machines (VMs) available, pushing the number of offered virtual machine options into the hundreds. Some of these options types include:

    • General purpose (ideal for testing and development)
    • Compute Optimized (great high CPU-to-memory ratio, only available in Fsv2)
    • Memory Optimized
    • Storage optimized (only available in Lsv2)
    • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) Optimized
    • High Performance Compute

    Each option comes with a variety of different sizes and different pricing metrics. In such a complex environment, how are you supposed to know how to properly size your organization’s needs when moving to Azure?

    That is where we come into the picture. We understand the complex nature of Azure and their licensing structure. With our custom-built tool set, we can accurately determine your sizing and computing needs, ensuring your IT department avoids over-licensing fees, costly true-ups, or being under-equipped. By collecting the most accurate data we can from your environment, our specialists are able to make well informed decisions regarding your needs. Microsoft has provided a basic Azure Pricing calculator of their own, though it is a convoluted tool to use.

    Provisioning Virtual Machines

    While finding the perfect Azure size is critical for your cost saving efforts, Microsoft’s unique way of calculating cost can make it difficult to size correctly, thanks to a little something Microsoft calls ‘provisioning’. Provisioning refers to a payment method where you pay based on a fixed capacity. This capacity could refer to memory capacity, bandwidth capacity or any other type of capacity. This capacity doesn’t reflect actual usage but instead is merely a fixed amount of space that you are paying for at any given moment, provisioning for less than you actually use could lead to your VMs struggling to cope with their tasks. This fixed capacity also doesn’t account for the changes in demand over a given year. However, it is more likely that you will pay for more than you use, which means you are wasting money on things you don’t use.

    Determining When to Puchase Reserved Instances

    Strategic purchases of Microsoft’s Azure Reserved Instances (RI) can provide you with great discounts compared to the pay-as-you-go model – 36-47% cheaper for a one-year term; 60-72% cheaper if you sign up for a three year term; and potentially up to 80% cheaper if you combined it with the Hybrid Benefit. The fact that you can pay either a single upfront payment or monthly payments also offers a simpler solution when you are trying to budget your IT expenses. The process of purchasing your RI is as easy as selecting your Azure region, the virtual machine type, or how long you’d like your term to be (one year or three years) and you’re good to go. It is easy to exchange and cancel your reserved instances as you choose. However, it is important to note that a Reserved Instance is not an actual instance, it’s more like a coupon you can use when your instances are billed. Microsoft gets a guarantee in your business, and you get a discount. There are, however, still some drawbacks to purchasing reserved instances:

    • You’re locked in with the payment system once you’re signed up for it, and a lot of the costs, if not all of them, are upfront.
    • It’s not as easy to scale up or down compared to the Pay-as-You-Go system.

    Thinking about your Move to Azure?

    While significant changes to any department can cause a struggle, the same goes for the transition into Azure’s environment. Employees will have to be trained on managing the new platform and there needs to be management of both your on-prem and Azure assets. It may even be a smart idea to hire someone to look after your Azure platform.

    At MetrixData 360, we provide our clients with the knowledge and the tools they need to manage their transition to the Azure’s platform successfully, which is why we have made a whole guidebook around the subject. If you would like to learn more about Azure, you can download our guide to Azure Licensing here.

    Understanding Software Contracts

    How to Go Through Your Software Contracts Before a Negotiation

    You’ve been handed a software contract in the wake of a negotiation with your software vendor, and it’s an inch thick with tiny font and a lot of words you’ll need a dictionary to look up. Now what? How can you tell if there are any saving opportunities that can be utilized in this agreement? Or (in the case of a software audit) how can you tell if you’re as far outside of compliance as the auditors say you are? The answer lies in understanding software contracts and how they function.

    The preparation right before conducting software negotiations is a very important step that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if you have a strong relationship with your vendor, you need to ensure that you’re not placing the fate of your software environment into their hands. No matter how nice they are, their goal is to have you buy more licenses, regardless of what is best for you. Don’t rely on the software vendor to tell you what you need, only you can do that. So, how do you scan your contract to see if there is room for savings? To the untrained eye, it can seem like a daunting task consisting of hours on hours of mindlessly flipping through seemingly useless information. If you know what you are looking for and depending on how organized your software environment is, it may only take you an afternoon.

    At MetrixData 360, we have ripped into contracts that we’ve never laid eyes on before and have been able to pull out hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. So, in this blog post, we’ll show you some of our methods.

    Details, Goals, and Additional Documents

    When reviewing your contract, take the time to highlight any date or specific numbers (when does this contract begin? If you have a discount, how much is it for and how long will that discount last? etc.). Next, make sure that you have at least a basic understanding of what your contract is trying to accomplish. Is it a new count to your software environment? Are you trying to reduce the licenses? What will you have after the license is enacted as far as new software licenses? Are there any additional documents that you need to have with you to fully understand the document, such as a Product Use Terms document. Knowing what you’re looking at and the details surrounding it will be the foundation of your understanding.

    Related: Dealing with a specific Microsoft software contract? Check out our articles for more tailored details: Microsoft SPLA Contracts Explained and Getting Ready for a Microsoft True-Up

    Check Your Software Contract for Fees and Additional Expenses

    Now that you have the basic outline of the contract, what it is trying to do, and what other documents you’ll need to consult to understand it, the next thing to do is find any mentions of fees, costs, or price increases over time. Find anything relating to the schedule of payment; is the contract asking for a lump-sum payment or installments? If so, what will your annual payments look like? Make sure you have a clear distinction between your purchase of the software and any payments needed to maintain the software. Make sure you consider all these additional costs to the software, as sometimes the software vendors can add on additional fees that make the overall product cost more than it’s worth.

    However, it’s important to remember that your goal is to cut costs, not to shoot yourself in the foot and take away from value through undermining services. Maintenance is a good example of this, since most software companies charge 20% for maintenance which means over the course of five years, you can very easily end up paying for the software twice. Maintenance is the bread and butter for software companies, so they will be keen for you to simply passively renew your maintenance, but it is important you challenge this to weigh costs against benefits.

    Look up the Definitions

    Your goal is to reduce what you don’t need but before you can do that, you will need to examine the definitions of the contract since this entire process may involve a lot of slogging through the intricate and confusing language of the software contracts. Just remember though, you’re not looking at this from a legal perspective, so there are whole paragraphs in this contract that will be of little value to you. While it might be useful to know definitions like ‘Confidential Information’, and ‘Documentation’; and paragraphs like ‘Representatives/Services’, it doesn’t serve the purpose of this exercise, so it will just be extra homework for you. What you’re looking for is anything to do with:

    • How you count your licenses
    • How you pay
    • When you pay
    • What you pay


    So, terms like ‘System’, ‘User,’ ‘Disaster Recovery,’ ‘Dev/test licensing,’ and ‘Invocation’; and paragraphs like ‘License Fee, Taxes and Expenses’, ‘Hardware’, ‘Master Software Support and Maintenance,’ and ‘Audit Rights/Compliance’ should be things that catch your eye. As you read, make note of any terms with similar definitions. For example, let’s say you notice ‘Web Users’ and ‘Occasional Users’ have strikingly similar definitions when it comes to the number of hours your users have to run the software and the privileges they need in order to qualify. If that is the case, investigate if it is cheaper to be considered a Web User or an Occasional User, and see if your company’s Users could be counted exclusively as the cheaper option.

    The good news is that within the contract you will find whole pages filled with nothing but legal jargon that you can just briefly skim over to see if you can find any words like ‘license’, ‘user’, or ‘price’. While the document may be over 50 pages, skimming in this high manner should result in you spending maybe an hour reading.

    Consider Next Steps

    Alright, you’ve read through your contract and you’ve pulled out all the necessary information, so what do you do with it now? There are a few things that you can do with this data:


      • Compare Your Deployment Data:

        Now that you have a clear understanding of what you have and what you’re signed up for, compare it with what you have in your software licensing environment. You may find usage that doesn’t match what you’ve paid for; it may be either too high or too low. You may also notice a consistent pattern in the usage, for example maybe there is a spike in usage for the last half of the year and so you have purchased licenses to account for that spike, but you are paying all year round. Data patterns like this would suggest that investigating a licensing type to accommodate for this fluctuating usage (for our example, a subscription license would be perfect) would be well worth the effort.


      • Check Your Ammendments:

        Make sure you also consult any amendments your company has made to the contract in the relevant years. Just like with the definitions, you are looking for things revolving around payments and licenses, examples of relevant amendments would include increasing or decreasing licenses or maintenance. You will also want to look for any amendments that alter the definitions of the contract, especially if the definition is involved with users or licensing types.


      • Holes in Your Contracts:

        With all this careful scrutinizing and confusing legal jargon, you may find that you have questions that your contract doesn‘t answer. Is there a term missing? Are there grey areas around what you can and can’t do with this license? Are there True-ups and have they been clearly defined? Seek clarification in any areas where the rules are not laid out clearly. If you are in the middle of a software audit, grey areas might prove useful to you. Depending on the exact wording of the section in question, you may be able to make the case for ‘it’s open to interpretation and this is how we have interpreted this’.


    • Start Prepping for Your Negotiation:

      Now that your investigation has concluded, you can compile the information you need to conduct a successful contract negotiation. You understand your software contract, its amendments, its supporting documents, and you can point out any grey areas. You know what is deployed in your software licensing environment, you can see what you’re using and how it compares with what you’re paying for, which will allow you to spot cost-saving opportunities. Create a list of questions and talking points based on the facts. You can now focus your attention and budget on what you need instead of guiding yourself by guesswork and good intentions.

    Still Confused?

    It’s not like these contracts are the stuff you curl up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon to read with a cup of tea, but if you want to cut costs in your software environment, if you want to be prepared for an audit or a software contract negotiation, you’ll need to understand what makes your software contracts tick. At MetrixData 360, we provide our clients with all the heavy lifting when it comes to understanding their software contracts, we usually act as our client’s secret weapon, telling you what you need to say to the software vendors and how you need to say it. If you’d like to learn more about how MetrixData 360 can help you get the best software contracts for your company, you can check out our Contract Negotiation Page.