Mar 16, 2020 - Michael Karampalas    

How we’re improving self-managed billing

GitLab is introducing Seat Link in our 12.9 release to make renewals easier for our self-managed customers.

2020-04-01 UPDATE: Based on feedback from the community, we have provided a way to disable Seat Link. Thank you all for your feedback and for helping to make GitLab a better product for everyone.

GitLab is excited to announce that we'll be introducing Seat Link in 12.9 to help our self-managed customers add more users to their GitLab instance as their companies grow along with their user base. Historically, our renewal process has been overly complicated and confusing for one reason: True-ups.

The trouble with true-ups

What’s a true-up? A true-up is a one-time charge at the time of renewal that accounts for the users added to an instance above the original subscription amount. As an example, if a company's subscription was originally for 100 users but the company grew to 125 over the course of the year, at renewal the company would owe for 12-months of usage for the extra 25, regardless of when in the year the users were added.

True-ups were required because GitLab could not collect current information about self-managed user counts and growth. Our team could not determine if a customer had added users; when those users were added, and whether the customer is within their license. As a result, with each renewal customers had to pay for the full 12 months of users added since their previous renewal. We realize this is not ideal.

We had no way to prorate these charges, and the process relied on customers providing user counts, which is additional, manual work and has led to errors and confusion in the past.

Seat Link is our solution

That’s why we are excited to introduce Seat Link with our upcoming 12.9 release.

Seat Link is our first step toward providing self-managed customers with more transparent, prorated charges for user growth throughout the year. By using Seat Link, GitLab can automatically charge a prorated amount each quarter for users added to a self-managed instance.

Seat Link means our customers no longer have to pull out the calculator for confusing math when their subscription renews, and there will be no more surprises, and most importantly, no more true-ups!

Each day, Seat Link sends GitLab a count of all the users in connected, self-managed instances. The daily count means we have the information necessary to automate prorated reconciliations. By automating the user count process, we shift the burden of accounting for all users from our self-managed customers to GitLab. These data will be sent securely through an encrypted HTTPS connection:

  • Date
  • Historical maximum user count
  • Active user count
  • License key

See an example of the POST request in our docs.

Seat Link will be minimal and non-configurable, making it simpler for as many customers as possible to use. However, air-gapped or closed network customers will not be able to use Seat Link at this time, and we will continue using the existing true-up model.

Seat Link will be available in GitLab 12.9, but we will not start processing prorated charges until a future date, with a tentative target of 12.10.

Questions? Concerns? Please join the discussion and contribute to our epic.

Cover image by Modestas Urbonas on Unsplash

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