Mar 23, 2017

Countdown to Savings: How to Save More on IBM Licensing

Most of us are running software in virtual data center environments.

But virtualization can make licensing feel complicated for IBM server software. One of the most common IBM license types is Processor Value Unit (PVU), where the number of entitlements you need is based on the server's processor type and number of cores. In IBM licensing, you have the choice between full and sub-capacity licensing.

IBM full-capacity vs. sub-capacity

If you go with full-capacity licensing, you always pay for the entire physical hardware. Regardless of whether the VM in which your IBM software is running utilizes only a tiny fraction of that particular machine’s processing capacity.

On the other hand, sub-capacity licensing (also known as Virtualization Licensing) allows you to license only those processor cores that are used by IBM software. While this option is much less expensive, it also requires you to use IBM's License Metric Tool (ILMT). Here is IBM:

You must 1) install and configure the IBM License Metric Tool (“ILMT”) within 90 days of your first use of an eligible sub-capacity product in an eligible virtualization environment (or comply with the manual usage tracking requirements if you qualify for such an exception); and 2) produce, on a quarterly basis, the required reports, retain such reports for at least two years, and make them available to IBM upon IBM’s request.

Virtualization is hard to track

The reason behind this requirement is that Virtual Capacity is very hard to track. Virtualization structure can suddenly change without you having any control over it. Imagine what would happen if one of your sysadmins increases the number of virtual CPUs on one VM, or moves the VM to another cluster, not realizing how these changes impact licensing for IBM software installed inside the VM.

This is why IBM charges the maximum virtual capacity (“high water mark”), aggregated for each product on a quarterly basis, and asks for PVU values calculated by one of its own discovery tools.

Learn 5 Secrets to the IBM Licensing Puzzle!

New tool, new opportunities

Up until now, the list of these IBM-trusted discovery tools included:

  • IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) 7.5 and 9.x
  • Tivoli Asset Discovery for Distributed (TAD4D) 7.5
  • IBM BigFix Inventory (BFI) 9.x

However, starting in April 2017, ILMT 7.5 is no longer considered acceptable for sub-capacity reporting. IBM is asking its customers to upgrade old ILMT 7.5 instances to the new version 9.x. Moreover, TAD4D will reach its end of life in April 2017, being replaced by its successor BFI, essentially leaving ILMT 9.x and BFI 9.x as the only options that are accepted by IBM for sub-capacity reporting.

While migrating your data and installing new agents sounds like a chore, there are actually many benefits from upgrading to either ILMT or BFI 9.x.

So, what’s new? ILMT 9.x is a radically new tool, still being the free-of-charge option for sub-capacity reporting. Based on the very same BigFix technology that its more versatile brother BFI is built upon (which comes with a price tag). Some of the most important new features are:

  • more detailed & configurable reports
  • audit trail, with unlimited access to historical data 
  • improved performance
  • extended discovery capabilities, including custom bundling and support for software running in public clouds
  • a new REST API, for easier automated integration with your existing tools

Accelerate savings for your IBM licenses

ILMT and BFI are both great for tracking sub-capacity licensing, but could use assistance with compliance monitoring, license optimization and simulation capabilities.

This is where Aspera SmartTrack comes into play. SmartTrack includes an out-of-the-box connector that directly connects to ILMT and BFI 9.x’s new REST API. This crucial connection automatically extracts PVU values trusted by IBM. These values are then placed directly onto SmartTrack's compliance report, comparing number of PVU licenses needed to the number of IBM licenses you've purchased. SmartTrack therefore works “as an aggregator of inventory data coming from ILMT or BigFix Inventory” – as recommended by IBM.

Besides helping you find compliance, SmartTrack can perform Optimization and Simulation for your IBM licenses. With SmartTrack Simulation, you can stage potential server architectures using an easy node-based graphical interface. By moving databases and other applications around between different server topologies – with no impact on the live systems – SmartTrack helps you to identify the most cost effective way to deploy IBM software in your virtual data center environment.

Upgrading to ILMT 9.x

As a reminder, ILMT or BFI 9.x installation and implementation will be required for all sub-capacity IBM licensing as of April 2017. If you don’t upgrade to this newer version, you may risk your eligibility for sub-capacity licensing, which could cause compliance problems -- not to mention higher licensing costs. If you have questions about managing your IBM licensing, our Aspera team is here to help you navigate these changes and uncover new cost-saving benefits!

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Topics: IBM, License Optimization