During the year 2006 it was IBM that introduced an innovative license metrics known as Processor Value Unit or PVU. It is basically a kind of unit of measurement which streamlines IBM licensing policies and contracts. It has been found out that subtle changes in IBM licensing jargon and calculations appears to be very confusing especially for IBM customers, business partners and software sellers. Prior diving into how PVU is exactly calculated and affects an individual as IBM consumers, one should at first understand some of the basic terminologies.

  • Core: In basic understandings, core is basically a plausible execution unit on which any programs or software runs. Sometimes, known as a processor core.
  • Chip: It is referred as a physical integrated circuit of a particular computer. Whereas, multi-core chips (i.e., dual-core and quad core chip) generally have more than one processor core on the chip.
  • Sockets: Socket is known to be a physical connector that is present on the motherboard and it accepts only a single physical chip. At times, motherboards have multiple sockets, which in turn can seamlessly accept multi-core chips as a whole.
  • Processor: A corporate house like IBM defines Processor as a core on a chip, whereas many middleware and hardware vendor like Intel and AMD define processor as a chip in itself.
  • Processor Value Unit or PVU is basically a unit measure, generally used to differentiate licensing of software on various distributed processor technologies (which are defined via processor vendor, brand, type and model number as a whole.)

PVU License Types

At times, entitlements can be sometimes of Full Capacity or Sub(virtualization) capacity. Prior, jumping into full capacity or sub capacity, it is very crucial to define “activated processor core”.

In basic terminology, an activated processor core is mainly used on a physical or virtual server, and regardless of capacity of the processor, more often it is limited through virtualization technology, operating system command, BIOS settings and similar restrictions as a whole.

Thus, in order to obtain full capacity licensing, a licensee should obtain PVU entitlements that are well enough to cover all kinds of activated processor core, which are made available and fully managed by the program itself, as defined according to the virtualization capacity licensing rules.

In general, most of the IBM customers are fully subjected to fully capacity licensing. It means they need to upgrade the license of all activated physical processor cores, regardless of whether the IBM software actually uses all of the cores. Whereas, in a virtualized environment, IBM customers only need to procure PVU entitlements for those processor cores that are mainly available to IBM software.

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Calculating Processor Value Unit

The PVUs that are required are solely based on the processor technology, and the number of the processor cores are already available for the IBM software. On the other hand, the number of PVUs assigned to a processor is mainly defined in the PVU as per core table.

The respective information should be available in order to determine the corresponding PVU value:

  • It is the server vendor type and manufacture type, and model of the processor
  • Quantity of processor Core that are available

If you assume, that you are an IBM customer trying to particularly procure IBM MQ series and IBM WebSphere application server for Dell Power Edge server with 2 Intel Xeon 3400 processor sockets, each consisting of eight cores as a whole.

Thus, the formula to calculate PVU appears to be very simple by nature, and it is as follows:

“Total Number of PVU=Number of Processor Sockets X Number of Cores/Processor Socket X PVUs/core PVU table”

The first example talks about the Full Capacity on a physical server

In the very first example, as one can witness, the environment itself is not virtualized. In other words, it will result in a full capacity license, and it is counted as the largest number of PVUs on the server, whereas software is particularly installed. According to the PVU table for above processor configuration, 70 PVU core is already assigned. Thus, the below tabular format showcase how full capacity licenses are calculated for MQSeries and WebSphere Application Server (WAS). Thus, an assumption is made for Price per PVU.

The second instance talks through a diagram about Sub Capacity on two virtual machines

As shown in the example the above-mentioned virtual machines two in number includes that of VM1 and VM2 are mainly deployed on a physical server that has two Intel Xeon 3400 processors, each coming with at least eight cores. In the VM1, MQ and WAS installed, and VM2 only comes with an MQ. As both MQ is installed on both the virtual machines, still it has access to 16 cores. As a result, the following table projects sub capacity license for MQSeries and WAS.

In conclusion, it can be said that from the above two examples, sub-capacity licensing does reduce licensing costs for IBM customers. PVUs often appears to be an afterthought, when you think about licensing, and it is also crucial to understand the need to maintain a current count in both product and non-product environments or risk a large penalty if you are audited. However, moving managed servers across hosts in virtual environments or modifying their hardware characteristics can impact the license position in cases where the PVU is based on active cores available in those managed servers. Thus, staying in license compliance is not going to be easier.

Is your IBM software being compliant in accordance to the PVU Sub-capacity licensing? If not, then contact us, our experts will help you to get your software being compliant in accordance to the PVU Sub-capacity licensing.