IBM Licensing Expertise

The world’s most comprehensive and independent IBM licence management service with skilled ex-auditors and IBM licence specialists

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IBM Licensing Overview

IBM license management is a unique and multi-disciplinary practice that requires highly specialised processes, IBM licensing, and technical expertise.

This is often an expensive and complex process for organisations to procure and to maintain, one that can end up costing the business even more if not done with the right attention to detail and innate IBM license understanding 

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Manage Risk

We help you to proactively manage and defend IBM audits. Our goal is to help you minimise your financial exposure and optimise your IBM license management. Our clients have worked with us throughout the different stages of the IBM audit lifecycle – so we can help you, no matter what stage you’re at or what problems you’re facing.

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Our skilled IBM license managers are made up of talent from the ex-Big Four. Our IBM licence management services have been designed using technical expertise that’s constantly renewed to ensure absolute alignment with existing IBM license management standards. We level the playing field for you when it comes to negotiating IBM audits and contract renewals.

Contact FisherITS

To learn more how FisherITS can help your organisation review IBM licensing or defend against an IBM audit, contact us today.



    Sub-capacity, the million-dollar question (literally)

    Sub-capacity means only paying IBM for the virtual capacity that you use to run IBM applications (for example, 2 virtual CPU cores), instead of paying for the underlying physical capacity which is often many times bigger (for example, 32 physical cores).

    To put things into context, if you deploy one copy of IBM’s popular DataStage product on a single core virtual server within a 64 core cluster, in sub-capacity terms the cost starts from around £37,000, while in full-capacity terms the cost can be over £2.3 million!

    Unless you meet IBM’s requirements to qualify as a small business deployment, all Passport Advantage agreements state that you must successfully deploy and configure IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) or a solution approved by IBM in order to qualify for sub-capacity licensing terms. So do ask IBM before you take on a new tool that claims to be an ILMT replacement – it can be a million-dollar question.

    Mainframe – the dark cellar nobody wants to go to

    A little-known truth is that IBM mainframes are a compliance hotspot where things can easily go wrong. Although mainframes (also known as ‘System z’) come with a built-in Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT), roughly 25% of applications deployed on System z can’t be captured by SCRT. The sub-capacity and Sysplex eligibility criteria are risky areas that mainframe customers often overlook. Be proactive and don’t let the heat build.

    Mainframes are often not only overlooked, but also misunderstood, especially when it comes to mainframe bills that come in monthly from IBM. Many of these bills are not optimised to the customer’s level or type of licence consumption in mainframe and can be often reduced significantly.

    Discovery tools won’t help you much

    Contrary to common belief, discovery tools’ contribution to effective management of IBM licences is very limited for two reasons:

    IBM’s software signature library (catalogue) is proprietary and no third-party tool vendor has been authorised to use them in their discovery tools. While there are tools that have good software catalogues when it comes to IBM, you’ll still find that many IBM software installs will not be identified or identified correctly by your discovery tool.

    Out of the number of different licence metrics IBM uses to license its software, only a few are related to install counts or CPU ratings (which in theory can be measured automatically by a tool). Software licensed under the remaining metrics require manual management, which very few IBM customers perform. As a result, non-PVU products like Cognos, Maximo or Rational often cause large compliance exposures.

    It is important to understand what IBM licences you own and what licence models they are licensed under before getting busy scanning computers.

    Stay under the audit radar

    The best audit defence is not to have an audit, even if you defended an audit with a zero-exposure outcome, your staff would have probably invested many hours into supporting the audit which ultimately will impact your usual business.

    Avoid complex licensing models and share information with caution during contract renewal negotiations, and don’t forget to get ILMT up and running – IBM can see if you have not even downloaded it.

    Substitution clauses and CBAs are not expensive insurance policies

    Many large IBM customers with SSSO/NGSA agreements would have negotiated Substitution Clauses and Cross-Brand Allotments to allow flexibility of licence increase and licence swapping. Some IBM customers see this as an ultimate insurance against under-licensing or an ‘all you can eat’ package, which we do not agree on.

    Most SCs and CBAs have multiple restrictions on licence types and monetary values, so it is not impossible to go over the limit. Even if you stay within the limit, piling up additional licences may cause no immediate outward cash flow but they will all be priced for Support and Subscription when your SSSO/NGSA is due for renewal.



    As a Manager at FisherITS my main focus is our portfolio of IBM licensing related services. I’m passionate about helping our clients to understand and improve their complex IBM licensing estate and gain confidence in navigating through the IBM universe.

    I started my career as a member of the IBM SAM team where I experienced all parts of everyday SAM operations while taking care of mid-sized and large customers. In recent years my focus has turned to assisting clients that are interested in internal audits to ensure their IBM estate is correctly and optimally licensed, and defending customers going through an IBM audit.

    I also lead the FisherITS portfolio of services around the IBM License Metric Tool to help customers avoid sub-capacity non-compliant surprises.

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