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Your Sentrian Invoice Explained

We understand that invoices are notoriously difficult to understand, and while we try to make ours as clear as possible, they too can be confusing. For that reason, we have put together the following guide to help you understand your Sentrian invoices.

Sentrian One Subscription

The bulk of our clients are on some form of Sentrian One Subscription. The Sentrian One Subscription is purely for any item that incurs monthly charges; usually subscription-based services. You should receive these around the middle of each month.

Sentrian One Subscriptions will commonly include things like:

• Service Desk (Your access to IT support help desk and engineers + workstation patching)
• Hosted Servers (For when you have your servers hosted in our data centre)
• Backup Storage (For backups hosted in our data centre – this can be backups of your on-            premise server, or backups of the servers you have hosted with Sentrian)
• Microsoft licensing (365 subscriptions)
• Sentrian Desktop Security (Monitored anti-virus and anti-malware products)
• Server Maintenance & Monitoring (After hours server patching and rebooting + backup              monitoring)
• SSL Certificates (Maintaining your SSL security certificate for web based services)
• Internet Connectivity (Your internet connection if provided by Sentrian)
• IP Telephony (Your phone system if provided by Sentrian)
• Hosted Users (The users on your Remote Desktop Server, usually hosted with Sentrian)
• Sentrian Multi-Factor Authentication (Access to the DUO MFA package)

For an understanding of how we calculate some of these items, please read the appropriate section below.

Service Desk

Service Desk numbers are calculated via an automated process. One day each month a process runs whereby any user account that has been active within the last 30 days will be added as a active user, and charged accordingly. From time to time this will report users who have recently left, but were active within the last 30 days. Of course, by the next invoice, they will automatically be removed. Please understand that while this can appear as though you are still paying for a user who no longer exists, we do not charge for the first month of a new user being onboarded. As our billing is (for the most part) in advance, any new user will often not appear on the Service Desk list until a month after they started. Ultimately this all evens out.

Hosted Servers and Server Maintenance & Monitoring

Servers that are hosted in our data centre are generally made up of a few components. They have a base set of components that we refer to as an “instance” and can then have additional components added to them to make it suit your specific needs. These will appear as “Additional RAM – 1GB”, “Additional CPU” and “Server Storage – 50GB”.

Again, we have an automated process that counts the number of servers (instances) you have, and any additional components against them, and automatically adjusts the billing accordingly. This allows us to temporarily increase the processing power of the server when you need it most, but then remove those extras when you no longer need them. With COVID-19 issues, this was handy for our clients using Remote Desktop services.

The Maintenance & Monitoring figure is also calculated on the count of servers found.

Server Storage and Backup Storage

If you have hosted servers, you’re naturally consuming storage. And regardless of if you have on-premise servers, or servers hosted in our data centre, they need to be backed up. While “Server storage” and “Backup storage” is charged at a different rate, the mechanics for recording that usage is similar.

Server storage is provisioned in such a way that when you add more storage to accommodate growth, simply deleting files will not shrink your usage. It’s a little like outgrowing a t-shirt. It may stretch out to accommodate you (as unflattering as that may be), but losing weight does not mean the shirt will miraculously reduce down to a good fit. While there is a process that will allow us to reclaim that “free space”, it requires downtime and engineering to do this. Given the associated costs, it makes significantly more sense to simply manage your storage in such a way that what you have, is definitely required. Therefore, you are only paying for storage you legitimately need.

For those who use Sentrian backups, these are stored in one, or several of our data centres. Unless we have made explicit changes, we will retain the last 30 days of backups. Again, for both backups and server storage, an automated count will occur one day each month, and the highest count of your storage for that month is what you will pay for. This is charged in 50GB blocks. So, if you were to have 500GB of backups, or 500GB of server storage, you would be charged for 10 x 50GB blocks. As space is allocated in 50GB blocks, we will always need to round up. Therefore, if you had 475GB of backups, you will still be charged for 10 x 50GB blocks.

One key difference is that backup storage will actually shrink should your backups shrink. This is due to the nature of the storage we can store backups on. Should your backups reduce significantly for any reason, your usage and charges will decrease accordingly. Please keep in mind that since we keep the last 30 days of backups, something deleted will still consume backup storage for the next 30 days, so you may not see that reduction on the next invoice.

Microsoft Licensing

Microsoft’s 365 licensing is probably one of the more confusing components of our invoices. This is largely due to the fact we are trying to keep our charges as low as possible. When you purchase 365 licenses directly from Microsoft at the same rate as from Sentrian, you must commit to a minimum 12-month term. Alternatively, you can pay a higher rate, and you will be on month-to-month. When you purchase through Sentrian, we actually break it down to per day. This means that if a license is consumed for only half the month, you will only pay for half the monthly fee. The confusion comes in how that can appear on your invoice.

As we are billing in advance of the next month, a count is taken, and may come back with a figure of 15 active accounts. However, one of those accounts is a new user who has only been onboard for a number of days. So not only will you see 15 active accounts, but you will also see another line item for that user with a lower charge. This is to cover the few days the account was already used. This can look like you are paying for 16 accounts when you only have 15, but one of the charges is only for the “gap”.

If we now look at what can happen when a user leaves, that can potentially be more confusing. If a user leaves the day after the count is taken, they will of course show up on the invoice even though you have since requested it to be removed. Since you are essentially paying for the next month, this can seem unfair. However, the next time the count is taken, not only will it find that this account is no longer active, it will also see exactly when it was removed. This means that on the next invoice, you will see a prorated line item that is essentially a credit. So again, it may not be until the following invoice that you will see the credit, but it will be there. In short, while it may take a little time to even out, you will never pay for additional licenses that are not being used. This of course relies on you notifying us to cancel any accounts.

Sentrian Desktop Security

In most environments, we have prepared certain processes so that any new machines that are added to the network will automatically have our monitoring agent, along with our anti-virus and anti-malware packages installed. The last thing you want is unprotected machines on your network. An automatic count is taken each month for machines consuming these licenses, and any machine that goes offline for more than 30 days is automatically retired and removed from the count. The 30 days is in place so that if a staff member goes on leave for 2 weeks, we don’t inadvertently retire that machine. If they happened to be on extended leave, they may get retired, but when the machine is activated again, the aforementioned policies will ensure the packages are deployed again.

While the item appears as Desktop Security on your invoice, the same item is used to cover your servers also. So, while you may only have 15 workstations, you may see Desktop Security report as 17, and that would likely be due to you having 2 servers.

Hosted Users

Certain servers require “per user” licensing. The Hosted Users item on your invoice covers the Microsoft license that allows a user to access those servers. Most commonly, these will be Remote Desktop Servers (RDS), but can cover other servers too. While it is rare, this may also be relevant for clients who have on-premise servers, however, this licensing is more often than not purchased outright as opposed to rented on a monthly basis.

In some instances, you may also need to pay additional licensing if your hosted user requires access to the Microsoft suite (Word, Excel etc) on the RDS. This will depend on other licensing you are consuming, and Sentrian will ensure your approach to this is the most cost-effective.

It’s important to note that this item is not prorated. This means that regardless of how long a license is used for in a month, you will be charged for the entire month. For this reason, there can be circumstances whereby the number of Hosted Users will be different from other items you could expect to align, such as Service Desk or Office 365 licenses. As the Remote User item will show the maximum number of licenses you used at all during that month, the totals can vary.

Sentrian Multi-Factor Authentication

The Sentrian Multi-Factor Authentication package is for the licensing and management of your DUO MFA package. Much like Hosted Users, this is a minimum monthly fee, and you are charged for the most number of licenses you have consumed that month.

Other Sentrian Invoices

Apart from Sentrian One Subscriptions, you may from time to time receive other invoices. These should only be for items that do not have ongoing charges, such as a piece of hardware, or some services that are out of the scope of your agreement. These are generally easy to understand.

Engineering Charges

In most instances, we charge for “variable engineering”. This simply means that you pay for what you use. Depending on the type of job, we will always make best efforts to warn you of what engineering costs can be expected. If we are approaching the estimated time, and we suspect it will go over by any considerable amount, it will be raised with you to approve the additional work. Often, we will complete the work in less time than expected, and again, you are only charged for the time used. This is the same for both in hours, and after-hours work.

If you have been quoted for hardware, and engineering is required, an estimate will appear on the quote alongside the hardware. However, invoicing is kept separate. Sentrian will invoice for the hardware once you receive the goods. The engineering will then be invoiced once the job is complete.

If you would like to discuss this further, or perhaps there is something else on your invoice not mentioned here, please get in touch with your Client Services Manager.

Project Invoice

While the above details on variable engineering are usually still applicable to Project invoices, there are certain circumstances where these are invoiced differently. These unique situations will be discussed and clearly explained prior to the project starting.

Additional Notes

Sentrian is committed to providing you with a top-quality service. We will endeavor to deliver this service in the most cost-effective way possible, but it’s important to know that this responsibility is shared. Simply stopping using a service does not always mean you will stop being charged for it. Not all products can be automated in such a way. For this reason, it is imperative that you notify Sentrian when you are no longer using a service so we can decommission it as soon as possible. The same goes for any staff member who is leaving. Informing us of that departure will see that we shutdown all services related to that user as soon as possible. Not only does that minimise security concerns, but it also minimises any costs you might incur.

If you would like to discuss this further, or perhaps there is something else on your invoice not mentioned here, please get in touch with your Client Services Manager.

Updated on May 1, 2020

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