As the complexity of IT environments increases, staying on top of licensing audits and reducing over-deployment will save your time and money. IBM’s Software Licensing is infamously complex, with dozens of licensing metrics that generate tens of millions of audit findings. Understanding licensing metrics and compliance requirements for IBM software deployed in enterprise data centers becomes crucial to ensuring you do not spend unnecessary money on IBM licensing fees. As we explore some of the metrics and challenges that accompany IBM Software Licensing, we will be able to help you sort through IBM’s license complexity.

Challenges With IBM Licensing

  • Since IBM has acquired a large number of companies, it has a constantly expanding portfolio of software, resulting in a multitude of licensing models and license information documents you need to keep track of.
  • Understanding the level of detail in your Passport Advantage report requires a great deal of knowledge. You will find many details about your transactions, such as your site number, agreement number, sales order dates, quantities, migrations, metrics, order owners, license descriptions, part numbers, etc.
  • Products license information documents and announcement letters contain the rights and limitations related to licenses, not the contracts themselves. Documents are available online and IBM reserves the right to change them at any time.
  • Reconciliation of support and license transactions.
  • Understanding the evolution of a product over time.

Understanding Entitlement and Product Use Rights

By creating the International Passport Advantage Agreement (IPAA) program, IBM has tried to simplify and centralize its licensing by recognizing the difficulty associated with understanding product entitlements. Unlike individual agreements for each of Passport Advantage’s products, it uses a centralized program with a common set of agreements, processes, and tools. Unmanaged downloads can expose you to over-deployment risks, but Passport Advantage allows you to download products without restrictions. Any legacy purchases must be presented to IBM through a contract or Purchase Order Entitlement (POE).

In order to obtain a more accurate picture of your IBM entitlements, you will also need to take into account product migrations.

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Varied Metrics and Complexity

With increase in the complexity of the IBM licensing structure, managing the vast deployment of IBM products becomes a difficult task, but for the most part, licensing can be classified into three main categories –

  • User based licensing
  • Capacity based licensing
  • and other licensing

However, the biggest challenge is identifying which product belongs to which licensing “bucket.”

Let’s see some of the challenges associated with various licensing models.

Processor Value Unit (PVU)

In IBM words, PVU is a unit of measure used in the license of a program. The number of PVU entitlements required is based on the processor technology and the number of processors made available to the Program. In addition to the number of processors, processor names, server models, socket counts, and processor models, PVU metric calculations are by far the most complicated and include the most changing variables.

Storage Value Licensing

In licensing storage data products, IBM counts deployments by ‘Tebibyte’ rather than the default ‘Terabyte’, which is 90 percent of a Tebibyte. Because this is a nonstandard method of measuring storage, it confuses many customers.

User-Based Metrics

It is common to over-deploy IBM’s user-based software since there is no built-in control to limit usage. Therefore, it is essential to consider the user-based metrics.

Disaster Recovery (DR) Environments

It’s important to be careful around IBM’s classification of “hot standby” systems, which are servers that perform tasks like mirroring transactions, updating files, and synchronizing programs. IBM requires the appropriate software licenses for machines considered to be in “hot standby” mode.

Full Capacity Versus Sub-Capacity Licensing

IBM introduced licensing by sub-capacity in response to increasing virtualization. The product is not licensed based on the full capacity of the server or group of servers, but instead measures the capacity used in the environment. This reduces unnecessary costs as the total number of CPU cores and the total capacity of the servers are not considered when determining licensing fees.

A physical host (or server cluster) must be licensed to run IBM software by default, which means that all processors and cores should be licensed, instead of just a VM or instance. IBM’s sub-capacity agreement must be agreed to in order to grant a customer sub-capacity licensing right.

IBM Sub-capacity licensing is only available to customers who:

These features are certainly useful, but they are by no means perfect. It takes a significant amount of work to properly install and configure ILMT to capture all of the necessary information. To report deployment data to the ILMT license server, an agent must be installed on a target machine, whether physical or virtual. Many customers discover that despite having ILMT installed, their coverage of the environment is incomplete, or that they failed to properly account for bundled software. Scanners themselves may fail due to problems with disk space, compatibility, and credentials.

To ensure that you are aware of the potential pitfalls while using ILMT, consult an All Blue Solutions expert.