It can be a struggle to manage your licenses when your software estate reaches a global scale and has hundreds, if not thousands, of users. When dealing with IBM licensing there are a number of license metrics that you need to manage including both Processor Value Units (PVU) and Resource Value Units (RVU). In highly virtualized environments, IBM will license PVU and RVU based on Sub-Capacity, something that most other software tools do not measure.
IBM’s ILMT is an excellent way to monitor Sub-Capacity environments but, while ILMT is an added feature to many IBM purchases, what is it good for? And should you be concerned now that IBM has sold the product to HCL? At MetrixData 360, we have spent many years helping our clients manage their IBM software licensing environments, including their ILMT, so in this blog, we’ll go into what ILMT is and its advantages and disadvantages to you as an IBM customer.
What is PVU Licensing?
Processor Value Units (PVU) were first brought out as a new licensing metric in 2006 and can be described as a license metric that uses the type of processor and number of cores that are available to the product as the key factors to determine the number of licenses that you need to purchase. IBM defines processors by the number of cores that are on the chip itself.
This definition is distinctively different from the definition given by middleware vendors and a few hardware vendors, who define the processor as simply the chip. A specific number of PVUs depends purely on the processing type. There are two types of PVU licensing types: Full and Sub-Capacity. ITAM’s Using Pizza to explain IBM’s Sub-Capacity describes Sub-Capacity like ordering a full pizza and only eating two slices. You paid for the full pie; the full pie is there should you want to eat it later, but you don’t need it now since you’re no longer hungry. When configuring your processors, some technologies allow you to limit the number of cores that are available to be used by the software. The actual cores may be there, but the software prevents it from being used.
According to IBM, Full Capacity licensing simply means you license all the processor cores that are available to or managed by the program, even if the program doesn’t end up using all of them. Sub-Capacity licensing is based on the highest cores assigned to the application within the virtual machine (VM), not the total number of cores that the physical server has.
Due to this difference, licensing Sub-Capacity usually requires fewer licenses and is, therefore, cheaper than licensing Full Capacity. Most inventory or SAM tools do not keep track of the metrics required to measure and record Sub-Capacity use. ILMT allows you to effectively capture your usage and gives you the ability to calculate your cost for either Full Capacity or Sub-Capacity, giving you the opportunity to pick the option that best suits your software budget.
The Advantages of IBM’s ILMT
The only way that IBM will allow you to license with Sub-Capacity is to have ILMT installed and to keep historic usage records. By doing this, they allow you to utilize Sub-Capacity licensing metrics, and the audit records from the ILMT tool gives an accurate depiction of your license requirements for PVU products.
With IBM’s ILMT, you’ll always be ready for an audit since continual use of the product allows for an in-depth examination of your infrastructure. ILMT allows you to prove to IBM that you are organized and have the data to manage compliance with Sub-Capacity licensing. Since audits are more likely to be sent to clients when the vendor has reason to believe that licensing and software compliance are not being effectively tracked, ILMT can be viewed as an audit insurance policy. By demonstrating to IBM that you have a system in place to account for your licensing position, it can decrease your chances of being audited in the first place.
Displays a Comprehensive Software and Hardware Inventory Management
The licensing metric tool also does an effective job of centralizing your software and hardware inventory. IBM Security explains that by having this data at your disposal, you can cut costs by using the licensing metric that is most cost-effective for you.
With your hardware inventory available to you, you can also have access to important details about your hardware infrastructure, including processor make, model and type, operating system, and the hostname. ILMT can also provide a list of all your virtual servers and VMs that are in public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. This data is useful in the event of an audit but can also serve to help calculate the optimal software costs for your software environment.
Offers Other Features Beyond Inventory Management for Better Software Optimization
Although tracking your hardware and software is its primary usage, ILMT can also perform discovery tasks and report on the hardware in your environment.
ILMT can provide you with quality data on your deployed IBM software including the releases and the versions of various software installed within your IT environment. It also allows you to manage security (updates and patches) of the different IBM products and versions in your environment.
It’s a Free Addition to Your Purchase
There are few words that are sweeter than free. ILMT is free of charge, although it needs to be ordered and included via IBM’s Passport Advantage Site Agreement. Many organizations have come to view ILMT with suspicion, thinking that installing ILMT will mean that IBM will receive reports but ILMT is not a ‘Big Brother’ tool, since any and all reports ILMT creates only goes to the customer.
The Downside to ILMT
Complex Deployment and Maintenance
Going through installing ILMT for the first time is a quick way to learn how laborious and time consuming it can be. It may be a free purchase, but your company will still have to spend working hours getting it up and running. It is critical to ensure that ILMT is properly deployed throughout your software environment, it needs to be monitoring either every piece of IBM software or your entire architecture as it may be impossible to establish the difference. Making sure that ILMT has been properly deployed and making sure its reports (which will serve as ILMT’s most critical feature during an IBM audit) are accurate will be the most challenging part.
Even if the issue remains with ILMT as a product, it will be a very difficult case to defend during an audit, as you will have to prove a number of factors, including that you attempted to deploy ILMT and that you tried to contact IBM tech support concerning the issue.
ILMT is Mandatory for Sub-Capacity Eligibility
The main drawback of ILMT is that it is mandatory if you want to qualify for Sub-Capacity licensing. Sub-Capacity is not automatic after the installation of ILMT, in fact it is tricky to qualify for sub-capacity licensing. Unless you qualify for special exception, you’ll need ILMT installed or have everything licensed at Full-Capacity. If IBM finds that you have software that has been deployed for 90 days or longer and you have neither ILMT monitoring for Sub-Capacity or the software licensed at Full-Capacity, then you’ll be facing massive fines from IBM. You could be at risk of losing your Sub-Capacity eligibility if you are confronted with any of the following problems:
- Not generating and properly keeping quarterly reports from ILMT.
- Having an outdated version of ILMT.
- ILMT agents can fail when it comes to agent scans and capacity scans, because of either incompatibility, lack of disc space, or credential issues.
- If you want to selectively deploy ILMT to only servers with IBM products on them, then ILMT might come across issues detecting and identifying which servers to monitor. Anything that is missed will lose its Sub-Capacity eligibility.
- Having any IBM products deployed on Operating Systems that ILMT doesn’t support.
- ILMT can easily struggle with accurately bundling unique software signatures for reporting. To do this successfully requires knowledge of your specific license restrictions and entitlements.
Technical Issues with making sure that ILMT reaches everything that is licensed at Sub-Capacity and is reporting it properly is where we see a lot of our clients run into problems.
ILMT is also mandatory if you would like to avoid an audit, since if you do not have ILMT effectively installed, IBM takes that as an indicator that you are not properly monitoring your software environment, placing a huge auditing target on your back for later.
Under-Reporting and Over Reporting
Even after the hassle of properly installing ILMT throughout your software environment, your next hurdle is to make sure the data that it’s giving you is even accurate. ILMT can fail to give accurate reports due to network, firewall, or agent problems, which will directly affect your calculations.
On the flip side, with ILMT there is also the threat of over reporting, especially when it comes to bundling capabilities, which means you’ll have to manually correct specific scenarios to get an accurate reading.
HCL and What Does it Mean
Recently IBM sold ILMT along with their BigFix product to HCL. What this means is that HCL is taking over all support of both products (along with a handful of other products that they purchased from IBM). ILMT is being integrated into BigFix, which is mostly the same product, but it has different installation and management processes. Although IBM has not stated if ILMT will be the only SAM tool moving forward that allows you to manage Sub-Capacity licensing, we are speculating that IBM will have a certification process for other SAM Tool vendors soon.
IBM’s ILMT can be an effective tool in ensuring your software compliance. IBM is considered one of the heavy hitters in the software industry and their software audits can be quite challenging especially if you are licensing Sub-Capacity and do not have a correctly configured ILMT installation. It is a recommended best practice that you take the steps necessary to be prepared and perform a self-assessment to assess that your data is organized in order to assure that you have ILMT accurately configured. At Metrixdata 360, we’ve helped numerous organizations with ILMT and have defended organizations in IBM audit, so if you would like to learn if you are exposed to an audit, you can check out our Audit Risk Checklist.