Sep 19, 2016

Brandolini's Law is Suddenly FLEXible

Are you familiar with Brandolini's Law? It states that "The amount of energy necessary to refute BS is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

That is why I normally do not bother to refute some of the BS spread by a competitor that has a track record of being FLEXible when it comes to the truth. But not today.

I am frequently asked why my company, Aspera, states that:

"The only two tools for Virtualization Capacity (aka sub-capacity) that IBM accepts are ILMT and BigFix. We recommend using them as a data source for Aspera."

When the Flexera website claims in bold letters:

"Accepted by IBM for Sub-Capacity Reporting"

I thought this little clarification from IBM on their DeveloperWorks forum might be helpful:

"IBM does not certify neither validate [the] Flexera solution."

Getting mixed signals? So did some Flexera customers — which is why Flexera recently added this disclaimer to their website. Scroll down to the middle of the page, or read it here.

IBM’s Acceptance Terms:

"IBM will allow you to install FlexNet Manager for IBM Version 2015 R2 or later as an alternative to the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) to fulfill your reporting obligations under the sub-capacity licensing terms, provided that FlexNet Manager for IBM must be functionally equivalent to the most current version of ILMT and provide equivalent reporting (including without limitation a minimum scan frequency of 30 minutes), and must be properly installed, configured and maintained by you at all times. You are responsible for working with Flexera to ensure that such conditions are met. If additional Flexera Software products are required to meet these conditions you must procure them. IBM reserves the right to verify your FlexNet Manager for IBM installation using the assistance of a third party. This authorization is limited to FlexNet Manager for IBM performing discovery and reporting of processor usage either natively or integrated with IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT), Tivoli Asset Discovery for Distributed (TADd) or IBM BigFix Inventory. This authorization does not apply to Flexera acting as an aggregator/dashboard and reporting processor usage discovered by other third party tools. Except for the choice of system tool, nothing herein will be deemed to modify any other sub-capacity licensing terms and conditions.

The above terms require acceptance by IBM."

To summarize:

  • YOU are responsible that Flexera is functionally equivalent to the most current version of ILMT.
  • YOU give IBM additional audit rights.
  • YOU might have to buy additional products from Flexera.
  • And these are not even IBM's Acceptance Terms but terms that IBM might accept.

This sounds like a whole lot of BS to me. Acceptance terms that have to be accepted for a tool to be accepted is not the same as "accepted".

I am sure that somebody will one day write a book on the backstory that led to this disclaimer. In the meantime, ask yourself if you want to work with a FLEXible vendor or with one that is honest and built to last.



Topics: IBM, SAM Insights

Comments (8):

wrote on

While your comments above are indeed accurate on surface - ie per the IBM Virtual Capacity Q&A website, you are absolutely incorrect about the Flexera claims of being acceptable to IBM. The Flexera claim is indeed true - there is a process that IBM has for customers to follow to be permitted to use Flexera in lieu of the two IBM products. Your claims above are incomplete at best and arguably very much false. I worked for IBM for 12 years in the asset management tool space closely aligned with the compliance group.

I suggest you augment or remove the post as it is misleading and/ or incorrect.

wrote on

Dear William,

Thank you for your feedback, and for confirming that my statement is accurate on surface. If you follow the links in my post, you will actually find that it’s accurate all the way to the bottom.

I am missing the part where you specifically demonstrate that anything in my post is "misleading and/or incorrect". I do not question whether a non-IBM scanner might be acceptable. But there is a difference between "acceptable" and "accepted". Especially if the process to get from one to the other requires the customer to sign terms that are not acceptable. The terms ask the customer to guarantee that the "functionally [must be] equivalent to the most current version of ILMT".

Since you are familiar with the topic you know that this is nearly impossible to do.

If you don’t see the difference I’ve got a beautiful castle in the sky to sell you. It is "constructable", not "constructed" - but there’s a process to get from one to the other. Going through the process costs a lot of money, is painful and when you’re done you will be at constant risk - but don’t worry - there is a process in place!

So if anything should be augmented or removed, it’s the "accepted" claim on the Flexera website.

On a side note: Since you worked with the IBM compliance group maybe you have some insight and can enlighten the audience on what led to the addition of the disclaimer? There is industry chatter that the compliance group found significant inconsistencies in the Flexera output and therefore now requires these terms. Any insight?

Second note: In the voice mail you left me about the same topic, you suggest that you could assist us going down the same path as Flexera to try to achieve acceptability. I appreciate the offer, but until IBM changes their acceptable acceptance terms and shares their full set of signatures, this is not a viable option as it puts the customer at high risk.

Third note: In the same voice mail you mention the possibility of legal action. I believe that would be a great way to give this topic some more visibility.


wrote on

Let me be quite clear - please do not consider my original post as any kind of validation of the overall accuracy your initial statements.

What I find misleading are the statements that the comments below:

(When the Flexera website claims in bold letters: "Accepted by IBM for Sub-Capacity Reporting")

Flexera, when deployed appropriately and per the terms with IBM, is deemed acceptable by IBM in lieu of ILMT or BF Inventory.

Flexera has gone through the rather involved process you reference in the blog -- and has thus met the requirements stated by IBM.

Ignore the industry chatter -- while there may have been a technical issue raised at some point that has been very much resolved - and Flexera is indeed acceptable if the terms are followed appropriately with NO customer risk.

I will not at this time lead you through any IBM validation process.

wrote on

Looks like Brandolini was right: This IS a lot of effort :) Let me try one more time:

You keep on using the word "acceptable" while the Flexera's web site claims "accepted". My point is that there is a HUGE difference.

Aspera went the extra mile and asked the Senior Product Manager BigFix and IBM Endpoint Manager at IBM for his clarification. He responded with exactly one sentence:

"Flexera is no longer accepted by IBM Compliance as alternative discovery tool to ILMT."

Again - I do not question if it is "acceptable" - after signing and following the terms that are impossible to follow. I am sure you are right and "Flexera has gone through the rather involved process" with IBM and I admire the effort - even though from their customer perspective the time probably would have been better spend in improving usability, automation, number of managed vendors and performance of their core product. But I digress...

My point is that using ANY non-ILMT/Bigfix inventory and signing those terms is a BAD choice for the customer. In 17 years in the industry, I have not seen two scanners output the same results. The moment the results are different, IBM can - and will - deny acceptance of the Flexera output and ask for full capacity licensing. Why would IBM not love this?

Based on this, I do not understand how you can claim "NO customer risk" while IBM writes "is at full customer risk". For the customer, this is a multi-million dollar catch and a litigation waiting to happen.


wrote on

Hi above, for the ones of you who do not know me yet, just go Google 'IBM Audit Defence/Defense' and you should be able to find my name on the first page.

Let me try to be Switzerland on this - Flexera CAN be accepted by IBM, but it has to be done on a case-by-case basis. Each case needs to be reviewed by IBM and accepted contractually.

This process always involves IBM's acceptance so Flexera alone can never guarantee IBM's acceptance in each of its install base.

The irony is this, if you do not have ILMT/BigFix and want Flexera to track your IBM PVUs, by asking the question to IBM 'can I use Flexera instead of ILMT' and seek acceptance is like an open invitation to audit : "Dear IBM, I have been running naked without ILMT for years, come and collect millions back dated payment"

Granted - there is a possibility (very slim in my experience) that a customer has fully functioning and compliant ILMT/BigFix set up and want to replace it with Flexera - if you are indeed one of these companies then it make sense perhaps from an agent consolidation point of view to ask IBM's approval.

It is very interesting to see how much ignorance has the noises caused.

Eric Chiu
Director of Fisher IT Asset Consulting

wrote on

Flexera have gone through the lengthy process of getting certification from IBM that their tool *can* be used as an alternative to iLMT if deployed correctly and in accordance with IBMs additional requirements. So they *can* claim that the tool is accepted by IBM as an alternative. I love how Flexera went through this lengthy process and get slated, but you claim Aspera went "the extra mile" and asked one question of a product manager - kudos on that :). Perhaps Aspera should spend less time slating the commendable efforts of a competitor and more time working with IBM to achieve certification for your product

As someone once said "Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do."

Just saying.........

wrote on

I agree Flexera can be used and I have worked with IBM customers who have also got this confirmation directly from IBM. Christofs views are clearly trying to throw mud at his competitors. This is usually not a good strategy. If the reader reviews your article it is very clear that this is just a smear campaign where Flexera Is correctly promoting its products functionality which are much more cost effective than alternatives due to full capacity considerations. So it is worth the investment to correctly implement the options and products correctly.

Whilst I agree you will not get 2 scans the same, this is also true for jus using IBM tools so your argument does not holdup.

Also recommend you remove this article it’s not helping Aspera or you.

wrote on

Dear David,

Thank you for your input. Given the fact that this is a single article which includes source links for every point made, it can hardly be called "smear" or a "campaign". If you don't want to take my word - because I cofounded Aspera, read Eric Chiu's reply to this article (above). His post is well balanced and I don't think I have ever met or talked to him.

A Google search for your name & Flexera however shows that it is not your first time praising the only partner listed on your website []. One of the first hits is you singing the praises next to very critical words from an actual long term Flexera customer stating that "Flexera [is] known for worst customer service" []

If Brandolini would have told me just how much energy is necessary I would have written about, "Astroturfing" [] and the "Streisand effect" [] instead ;)