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By Steven Russman, IBSMA.com
IBM announced two changes to its Passport Advantage software licensing program in July 2011 that continue to cause IT managers to stop and take notice. The changes boil down to this: You're going to need the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT). Those who've renewed a software maintenance agreement, or conducted a compliance audit, or run IBM software in virtual environments may consider this old news. If you haven't read the fine print, get ready because this year many corporate license managers will face the fact that managing IBM licenses requires ILMT.
IBM in virtual environments
The first change is that IBM combined what had been a separate agreement for subcapacity licensing, or the terms for running IBM software in virtual environments, with the Passport Advantage agreement. No big deal, you'd think, but it is.
In the case of virtual environments there is the not-so-new obligation to use IBM's free License Metric Tool. Some customers may not be aware of this requirement because they did not take advantage of subcapacity licensing or because IBM did not enforce use of ILMT. Today it's the tool-of-choice IBM defines in the agreement and IBM says it means business. The agreement insinuates that customers—except small organizations that don't qualify under IBM's policy—are to install and use ILMT. Whether or not you're required to use ILMT to meet the subcapacity compliance requirement, you'll still want a tool to track and measure active usage of IBM products across all of your organization's systems just to stay one step ahead of the next compliance review.
Back to virtual environments, customers who want to comply may think installing ILMT agents just on the virtual servers will do the trick. Think again. To demonstrate that IBM software is only running on a portion of your 1,000 servers, you'll need to install ILMT on all servers (or use a suitable tool alternative on the servers not running IBM) so you can demonstrate, when asked, that the software is running in virtual mode on only a portion of the network. Does this sound like extra work and perhaps a bit one-sided in IBM's favor, considering you may have another server-based agent for this purpose and don't want to install a second or third agent? Yes, but it's probably worth it in the end because you will know what IBM and other software is in active use, and pay only for the maintenance and licenses you need.
All or nothing support
The second change, taken at face value, brings its own ah-ha moment: Customers must buy full support for their licensed IBM products in active use, or no coverage. The reasoning is simple and clear to IBM: In most cases it's not possible to pinpoint specific installations covered under maintenance so requiring maintenance on all units of a product in active use eliminates the guess work. For example, if you've got 100 licenses for product A, but only 50 are in active use, at maintenance-support-renewal time you'll need a means to demonstrate this fact to IBM. If you cannot provide a current active-usage report IBM may wonder why you only want to maintain 50 and insist you cover the 100 it shows you own, and assumes are in active use.
The subtle implication facing IBM license managers today is that both changes come with the requirement to track software in active use. The task for customers is having the right tools and processes, and a software license manager to identify licenses in use, and keep track of surplus or inactive licenses, as well as where and when the product is or was last used. Organizations with proactive license management programs are ahead of the game, and for those who don't, IBM is not-so-subtly saying track and manage your software licenses.
For more on IBM's Passport Advantage program, see http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/passportadvantage/about_software_licensing.html#types.
For more on IBM's requirements for the IBM License Metric Tool and Software Subscription and Support, see the International Passport Advantage Agreement: ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/passportadvantage/PA_Agreements/PA_Agreement_International_English.pdf), July 2011.
For additional background on Passport Advantage and managing IBM software in virtualized environments, see Michael Koss' article: http://www.anglepoint.com/Papers/V7%20I8%20Michael%20Koss%20reprint.pdf.
For more information on IBSMA, visit IBSMA.com.
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