FELiX Blog

Katerina Moltova
Katerina Motlova
IBM Specialist

An Unofficial Explanation On How IBM Charges Non-Production Software Use

An email from a fellow SAM practitioner hit my inbox earlier today, with a question I have been asked over and over again over the years, both by clients and by our junior consultants. The mail reads :

” I am looking for a documents for IBM that clearly states you pay for non production licenses as well as production one’s. Do you know where I can find it?

With our marketing agencies consistently nagging me on the importance of “content” and “SEO” over the past few weeks, something hit me while I was in the middle of crafting my reply. I am going to post my reply on LinkedIn (Sorry Ms K. for turning your question into a shameless keyword grabbing marketing exercise!).

So here it is (with some light editing to make it PR friendly):

Happy to assist with your question but the matter is slightly more complicated, so please bear with my slightly lengthy answer below:


Firstly, there is a “category” of non-production servers, the “standby” servers, that may or may not require to be licensed depending on their definition (i.e. hold/warm/cold standby). Here is a link from IBM with the exact definitions and the licensing impacts:


Then, for an “active” non-production server, such as a test, development or a staging server, the licence requirement varies from “nil”, to a flat rate (say, fixed 100 “PVU” per install regardless how big the box is), then to a requirement of full production licence.

Unfortunately this is always product-specific and you can find out how to licence each (non-production use) by checking their Licence Document via IBM’s database.

An example here is for WebSphere Commerce:

However, as ‘rules-of-thumb’:

  1. If there is no reference (in the License Document terms) on how an “active” non-production instance should be licensed, then you are correct that the default is non-production instance (of this product) needs to be fully licensed.
  2. If IBM sells a non-production licence for a product (XXX Server for Non-Production Environments), then you can pretty much guessed that it needs to be licensed, but only under the often (significantly) cheaper license type.

This is where I ended my reply. However I have to add a few more lines below for any IBM lawyer out that that may or may not be constantly checking on our website:

Views above reflect my own, personal interpretations of the various IBM license agreements. They may not be consistent with IBM’s interpretations of these agreements. This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 21st June 2018.

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