IBM licensing can easily overwhelm you, with so many different definitions and rules, it’s like learning a more complicated and even nerdier version of Klingon.

Where do you even begin?

At MetrixData 360 , we pride ourselves in diving deep into complicated licensing issues and understanding even the most complex scenarios. We often help our clients successfully navigate these complex terms. So, in this blog post we will go through a quick overview of IBM licensing for beginners because despite how it looks, software contracts don’t have to be a confusing affair.

Types of IBM Users

There are many different types of users in IBM’s books:

Authorized User

An Authorized User is someone who is given access to the Program. The Program in question may be installed on multiple computers or servers and the Authorized User can access multiple instances of the Program at once.
As an Authorized User, you are not limited to a single device or a single instance of the program. If I wanted to open a piece of IBM software that I was an Authorized User to on every desktop in my workspace at the same time, I could.

Each Authorized User must have their own separate entitlements in order to access the Program in any manner directly or indirectly, such as through a multiplexing program, device, or application server. Authorized User entitlements cannot be shared with other people unless permanently transferred.

However, some IBM programs license devices so that they are considered users. In which case, any device that “requests the execution of or receives for execution a set of commands, procedures, or applications from the Program or that is otherwise managed by the Program” must be licensed as if that device were a person.

Takeaway Points:

  • Authorized Users can access the Program from multiple computers and can access multiple instances of the Program at the same time.
  • Authorized Users cannot share their entitlements with another person.
  • In certain programs, devices that interact with the program must be licensed as if they were a person.

Concurrent Users

A Concurrent User is defined as any person who is accessing the Program at any given time. A Concurrent User may access the Program multiple times, they still only count as one Concurrent User.

While the program may be installed on multiple servers, what‘s important is that you license your program based on the maximum number of Concurrent Users that have accessed the program.

So, if you have 1,000 employees — 500 working days and 500 working nights — as long as there’s no way they could overlap, then you only need to license for 500 Concurrent Users.

Just like with Authorized Users, there are programs that are licensed so that devices are considered users. Any device that “requests the execution of or receives for execution a set of commands, procedures, or applications from the Program or that is otherwise managed by the Program” needs to be licensed as if it was a person.

Takeaway Points

  • Concurrent User metric is based on the number of users at any given time
  • A Concurrent User can access the program multiple times and still be considered only one Concurrent User.
  • For some programs, devices that interact with the Program will need to be licensed like a person.

Floating Licences

A floating license is connected to either a hostname/ID or a machine’s address.

A Floating License is for a single software product, which can then be shared between team members, with the number of concurrent users not allowed to exceed the number of floating licenses you have.

To use the floating license, you need to have a floating license key, which then any user of the organization can use to access the product at any given time. The server will then respond to the request of the key and then grants access based on the number of licenses the organization has.

A Floating User is a unique person who can access the program in question from a variety of different points, however, to simultaneously access the program from multiple points will require separate entitlements.

Takeaway Points

  • Floating licenses can be shared between users.
  • If the number of users matches the number of licenses the organization owns, anyone else wishing to use a floating license must wait until one of its current users has logged off.

Resource Value Unit (RVU) and Processor Value Unit (PVU)

Resource Value Unit (RVU) is a unit of measurement with which IBM licenses its Programs. RVU Proofs of Entitlement revolves around the number of units of a specific resource that is used or managed by the program in question. Each program has specific RVU entitlements and in no way can you exchange, interchange, or aggregate RVU entitlements with that of another program.

Processor Value Unit (PVU) on the other hand is a unit of measurement used to determine the cost of licensing IBM middleware products, based on the type of processor that is on the server where the software is held.

The number of PVUs required is unique to the specific server and is based on the processor’s technology and the number of processor cores on a chip in the server. It is used for licensing at Sub-capacity, which brings us into our next topic.

Capacity and Sub-Capacity: ILMT and Me

IBM’s Sub-capacity licensing is an excellent way for businesses to save money. Essentially, using a PVU count will allow you to only partially license a server with an IBM product installed on the server. You will only need to license the individual processors that the product will use, based on the number of chips that each processor carries.

However, in order to make sure that the product doesn’t cross that invisible line and is installed across the whole server, IBM makes it mandatory for those using sub-capacity licensing to have ILMT installed.

ILMT is a tool designed to help companies conduct inventory and maintenance of PVU-based software that is licensed at sub-capacity. ILMT is a delicate dance and failing to play by all the rules when it comes to ILMT will leave you being licensed at full capacity during your next IBM software audit:

  • You need to have ILMT installed within 90 days of the first use of products eligible for sub-capacity licensing.
  • ILMT must be maintained and up to date in order to determine consumption. If ILMT is not maintained, not fully or incorrectly deployed across your products, then you could lose your sub-capacity status.
  • You need to generate and keep quarterly reports from ILMT.
  • ILMT also has its limits on the accuracy of its reporting capabilities.

More information about ILMT and IBM Software Audits.

Common IBM Licensing Mistakes

As confusing as IBM licenses its products, it no wonder that there are a few common slips ups people always fall into, such as:

Messing up Sub-Capacity Licensing

Sub-Capacity Licensing proves to be one of the easiest mistakes for IBM customers to fall into. Sometimes customers do not realize they need to have ILMT installed in order to use sub-capacity licensing or if they have ILMT installed it is easily not accurately deployed or not deployed in all the areas it needs to in order to keep your company safe during an IBM audit.

Underestimating the Complexity

This article only covers the tip of the IBM licensing iceberg, with so many licensing types and metrics, it can easily get overwhelming, which is why it is important that you don’t give the management to these licenses to just a single person, or worse yet, a single person who is already has a full-time role.

To effectively get the job done, you’ll need someone who can fully own the project (or a team depending on the size of your company).

Related: Hire a Software Asset Management Expert or Do it Yourself? The Pros and Cons of Each.

Get Your IBM Licensing Under Control

IBM licensing can be a tricky business but as confusing as it can be, it is important to understand these licensing requirements in order to adhere to them to the best of your company’s ability. Of course, there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed because this isn’t a one-person job.

Software asset management, especially for companies of larger sizes, can easily become the full-time job of a team of people.

At MetrixData 360, we’ve helped our clients out of the toughest software related issues, IBM being only one of our major successes. To learn more and find out how we saved one of our clients nearly 20% of their IBM budget, you can check out our IBM page.