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A recent article in The Register, highlights changes that IBM made to its Passport Advantage program toward the end of 2014. The article points out that now it is even more important for IBM customers to maintain good records of their IBM software installations and stay in compliance with their license agreements. The Passport Advantage wording now states:

If client’s records are inadequate to determine IBM Subscription and Support or Selected Support charges, IBM’s charges for any excess usage will include two years of associated maintenance and IBM Subscription and Support or Selected Support.

This means that if you are audited by IBM, are found to be out of compliance (“excess usage”), and you cannot produce accurate records for your IBM software use, you could be liable for a full two-years’ maintenance back payment, in addition to the license true-up costs to get back into compliance.

Keeping track of IBM licensing can be challenging. For example, their Processor Value Unit (PVU) license model provides for both full capacity and sub-capacity (virtual environment) licensing. While sub-capacity licensing can save you money on your IBM software, since you don’t have to license all of the processor-cores in the server, it also adds more complexity to the IBM license management problem.

In the diagram below, we see that full capacity licensing for WebSphere Application Server (WAS) requires PVU licenses for 8 cores, while sub-capacity licensing requires licenses for only 4 cores—half the cost, assuming the same type of processor-cores in both cases.

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IT Asset Management

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IBM Full Cap vs Sub-cap Licensing

In most virtual server environments, there are technologies such as vMotion (VMware) in use, that allow you to move Virtual Machines (VMs) from one physical host to another in the cluster. In these server clusters, you have to be able to calculate the so called “high water mark” for IBM PVU licenses—you must license to the most expensive configuration of all the servers in the cluster (see diagram below).

IBM High Water Mark

In addition, there can be “host affinity rules” to also consider. These rules specify which servers in the cluster can be used by a given VM carrying a particular application. You must take these host affinity rules into account when calculating your IBM PVU license consumption.

DRS Host Affinty Rules


Given all of this complexity, it becomes pretty obvious that an automated license management solution is needed. To learn more about FlexNet Manager for IBM, Flexera’s Software License Optimization solution for IBM, please visit our website. FlexNet Manager for IBM is now accepted by IBM for sub-capacity reporting as an alternative to IBM ILMT, TADd and IEM SUA.