Why might IBM licensing seem challenging? As one of the world's largest software providers, IBM has over 30,000 software products, each with its own licensing structure. There are over 100 license metrics and complex algorithms that change per usage situation — it's a lot to remember.
During an IBM license audit, these challenges can have a high cost. Your Software Asset Management changes as IBM’s product portfolio grows with more software acquisitions. This makes your IBM licensing and software license compliance like a maze where the walls are always moving.
A long list includes user value units (UVU), resource value units (RVU), million service units (MSU), storage capacity units (SCU), and processor value units (PVU)
The metrics for PVU rules are based on the virtualization type and kind of topology, as well as their hardware information
Metrics like RVU, UVU and SCU require specific data like connectors, printers and storage in terabytes to calculate against the numbers collected
IBM is a big software vendor, with a wide array of contracts, complex metrics, product offerings, and entitlements. This scope can feel challenging when you respond to a software license audit. Let’s talk about how your processes and people can help.
Processes! To be effective for audit response, your management of IBM licenses needs to control how much data is being used and understand how you’re allowed to use the licenses. It’s important to set up processes that let you check this usage.
People! Have a dream team ready to go: technical lead, project manager, application manager, legal officer, and procurement person. Together, they can internally review your data for missing records or errors, validating your software license position before it goes to the IBM audit.
Did we mention tools? Using a professional Software Asset Management platform can set up your success. In addition to ILMT and BigFix, a SAM tool can pull together the required IBM data quickly and accurately. This data is documented and verifiable, so you can react and negotiate from a position of knowledge.
A helpful guide for key IBM licensing concepts:
IBM License Metric Tool: The ILMT tool is required by IBM to determine your licensing requirements for full and sub-capacity PVUs. Your goal is to ensure the tool gets a complete view of your licenses.
Passport Advantage Agreements: IBM has two PPAs that offer licenses, subscriptions, upgrades and support in a discount group. If you take a Passport option, it’s important to watch your compliance data, such as accounting for legacy product licenses.
Passport and non-PPA: Passport Advantage gets a bit trickier when the account doesn’t recognize the license purchases made outside of it. You will want to consolidate all of your Passport and non-Passport records into one system.
Portfolio changes: IBM is rapidly acquiring other companies. As they transition a product, you need to proactively track its name change and versioning. Under the Passport Advantage contract terms, you’re required to trace today’s “transformed” license back to the original Proof of Entitlement (PoE).
IBM Value Baskets: IBM offers an “all-you-can-eat” account, in which you can buy licenses until the account is empty or give back licenses to refill it. Just pay attention to what’s in your basket so you don’t go over the pre-paid amount.
Non-production servers: Each IBM product has different licensing for non-production servers. Some are free, some require full licenses, and some can use a fixed, reduced license. It’s important to look individually at every server situation.
As an alternative to virtualization licenses, you might opt for IBM’s sub-capacity licensing, which is more affordable but takes some insight to implement.
Sub-capacity licensing requires you to install ILMT and submit quarterly reports to IBM for two years. The plus side is you can partition your virtual servers, which reduces your license costs. Of course, there are challenges too. ILMT can be difficult to install and might accidently show you as non-compliant. This can be costly if left unmonitored.
A Software Asset Management tool can connect to ILMT to verify its findings and accurately report your compliance – they work together to maximize your IBM software license investment.
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Need help with your Software Asset Management program? Our in-house experts can manage some or all of your software licenses, and find the best costs at the lowest audit risk. Ask about our Managed Services for partial outsourcing or our full-service package of License Management as a Service (LaaS).
The success of this project is the reward for designing a large-scale process of change. Alongside significant time and cost savings, we succeeded in raising awareness for software license management in the group.
Hirsa Navid, License Manager, Business Development Austrian Federal Railways BCC IT GMBH