How to efficiently manage IBM software licenses
Based on your experience, what are the most difficult aspects in managing the license portfolio of IBM products?
I can think about three main difficult aspects in managing the license portfolio of IBM products, especially in large companies:
1. Having a global knowledge of contracts, products, bundles per version and metrics;
2. Having a clear awareness on license rules and risks;
3. Monitoring regular inventories and getting an accurate view of the products installed in a complex technical infrastructure when environments are mutualized in datacenters.
Among all the IBM products, the ones which are based on the license metric “PVU” (Processor Value Unit) need to be carefully monitored. The PVU metric is based on different factors, such as the processor model, the number of sockets and the number of cores (physical or virtual). The Sub-Capacity rule (in case of virtualized environments) can significantly reduce the license consumption. However, the tool ILMT (IBM License Metric Tool) must be installed and reporting must be produced regularly.
What are the most common mistakes that companies do regarding IBM license management?
The first mistake a company can do regarding IBM license management is not to read the IBM contract: this is indeed crucial in order to check general conditions, check customer responsibilities and check licensing information. Then, we can often notice that the information provided by the sales when negotiating a new contract or renewal are not challenged: people rely on IBM statements (oral or written) without checking the license agreement and its general conditions.
A common mistake can as well be not to include people who have a deep knowledge on IBM products in the commercial negotiation with Procurement, so that nobody can challenge IBM on licensing, on ILMT report, on full capacity vs Sub capacity and can ask for more details and guidance on proper license management.
The last common mistake regarding IBM license management is not to follow the software consumption when the products are hosted on IBM Datacenters. It is important to remember that the client is fully responsible for the license compliance, even when products are installed by IBM workforce and hosted on IBM hardware.
What would be the key recommendations and best practices about IBM license management that you would share with the community of Software Asset Managers?
The first step is to establish a structured governance to monitor IBM contracts. One of its aim would consist in implementing a compliance control process on a regular basis. Then, communication is required in order to raise awareness and train people and stakeholder on IBM licensing rules and compliance risk. Finally, it is important to periodically monitor the usage of products based on the active maintenance and terminate support related to unused products.
Specific actions and solutions can be implemented in order to prevent license overconsumption. For instance, delimited and identified clusters in big Datacenters are strongly recommended to avoid an uncontrolled migration of the virtual machines, and therefore a consequent potential risk of non-compliance mainly for PVU-based products.