To take advantage Sub-capacity licensing and its inherent value, IBM customers are required to: 1) Install either the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) or BigFix Inventory (BFI). 2) Produce audit reporting on at least a quarterly basis, and 3) Retain such reports continuously for 2 years. However, while IBM mandates the use of these tools for Sub-capacity license owners, it does not contractually require that they be used to their optimal capabilities. This is where many customers miss an important opportunity to start down the road toward formalized Software Asset Management.
IBM requires the use of these tools only where sub-capacity software is installed, but if the BigFix agenting is installed elsewhere, organizations can discover other non sub-capacity IBM software instances (and in the case of BigFix Inventory, over 40,000 other software titles from over 9,600 other publishers).
Like many IBM customers, the last company I worked for installed ILMT, and struggled with it initially. Early versions of the tool were hardly perfect, and this gave it a “bad rep” with the IT staff. With perseverance however, we were eventually able to stabilize the application and begin to extract some value from it in the form of software discovery reporting and the requisite audit reporting.
We quickly realized, however, that the value of software discovery data (on their own) is extremely limited. To make sense of the data that were captured, more background information was needed.
Specifically we required a complete understanding of the IBM licensing inventory we held; without which we were unable to accurately bundle products within ILMT or produce even the simplest reconciliation to our Effective License Position.
Once this was compiled however, we found that we were able to better control our software estate, and as an unforeseen secondary benefit, found ourselves well on our way down the path of Software Asset Management (all because we were using a contractually required IBM tool.)
If you are interested in understanding how ILMT can provide additional value and be a ‘Gateway to SAM’ for your own journey, please read the complete article at: //itak.iaitam.org/ilmt-gateway-sam.
Perhaps the most important aspect of fully utilizing IBM’s ILMT (or Big Fix Inventory) tool is to be able to accurately create bundling relationships. For those that are unfamiliar, bundling is the process where users confirm the specific IBM Product that each discovered software instance relates to. In a generic sense, each confirmed bundling creates a record in the database that specifically identifies which purchased license is used to cover each discovered software instance.
Sometimes, however, a software signature is discovered, that is identified in some way as “inappropriate” – as bundling it to a product would falsely increase the amount of licensing required to cover that product.
Reasons for this inappropriateness are varied, and new scenarios can be identified at any time.
Some examples include: • Products that have already been uninstalled – but certain registry or XML signatures continue to scan • Components of an IBM product that are used and licensed by third party software developers as part of one of their products (e.g., Cognos, DB2, etc.) • Components that are discovered on servers that are used exclusively as code repository file systems • Components that are misidentified or in some other way disputed – where an IBM Service Request ticket has been submitted and addressed with no effective remediation recommendations provided. • Certain cases where software installations are in place as Disaster Recovery backup* In these and similar cases, something needs to be done to avoid potential over counting; and there are 2 options available: Exclusion and Suppression.
The function of Exclusion allows the software instance to continue to scan – and show up on reporting, but as a No Charge instance. Suppression on the other hand, effectively removes the instance from being considered for bundling or other tool analytic functions. So, the question really is: which process to use?
Regardless, it is up to the ILMT/BFI tool user to control the implementation of these options – to avoid inappropriately undercounting their software.
To do this, I suggest the following Best Practice rules for use: 1) Use these options only as a last resort. If signature files continue to scan – after uninstallation, investigate and remove them manually (if possible). If you have code repositories – confirm that the software versions are still current – if not, then uninstallation is preferred.
2) Only use the Suppression functionality for the limited case where the discovered signature is truly a “False Positive” – Otherwise, stick to Exclusions.
3) For both functions, you can enter a comment to explain the reason why these actions were taken. Do this for every exclusion or suppression, but do so in the following manner:
a) Identify who executed the Exclusion/Suppression and the Date when it was invoked b) Briefly state a reason – and include the IBM service request ticket number if appropriate. c) If you were able to research online, any “evidence” for your conclusion that the instance should not be counted – include a URL link to that information as well. d) Keep a list of any reasons that will “pop up” again in the future, so you can reuse the same text for future Exclusions/Suppressions e) Take advantage of the “rules definitions” functionality if appropriate
By creating a policy for the use of these functions in a uniform manner, users will maintain control over their ILMT/BFI data and reporting. Also, note that both functionalities can be reversed – in case they were applied in error. The Exclusion and Suppression functionality in ILMT and BFI are there to make your reporting and bundling as accurate as possible, but if used haphazardly or inappropriately, they can be a source of confusion, risk and error. If you keep these well controlled, they are valuable functions that will serve you well.
* See IBM documentation for complete rules regarding Backup licensing
If you’d like to learn more about bundling best practices contact us!
One of the industry’s leading SAM conferences, the International Business Software Managers Association’s SAM Summit is a three-day event focused on tactical software asset management strategies, software licensing, contracting, compliance, and more. It’s a great opportunity to learn from leading minds in the industry and get insight into emerging trends and developments.
“Painless Upgrading to IBM’s Latest License Metric Tool” July 11, at 11:15 CST
“How to Measure Usage with ILMT and Save on Licensing Key Products” July 11, at 1:30 CST
These sessions will focus on IBM ILMT, ways to use IBM BigFix to measure software usage, and how to save on licensing costs and ELA negotiations. You’ll also be able to take advantage of more than 70 other sessions featuring SAM and licensing experts from companies including Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and more.
If your company uses IBM Passport Advantage, you’re probably aware of the licensing requirements. As part of your agreement with IBM, you’re required to implement and maintain the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT), generate quarterly license audit reports, and keep a two-year history on file.
You’re also required to stay current with regular product upgrades, and that’s where things may get tricky. In the fall of 2016, IBM discontinued support of the ILMT v7.2.x platform. Support for another platform, v7.5.x, discontinues on April 30, 2017. If your company uses either of these platforms, you’ll be required to upgrade to ILMT v9.5.x to maintain compliance.
Since this is a requirement to keep your business compliant, we probably don’t have to convince you to upgrade. But ILMT v9.5.x has a few surprises up its sleeve.
An Opportunity for Improvements We don’t usually think of mandatory upgrades as something to look forward to, but with ILMT v9.5.x there are a few advantages you’ll want to explore further. Some of the improvements to look forward to include:
Robust Reporting: Audit snapshots and on-demand reports (based upon user criteria)
Enhanced Software Bundling Capabilities: Easier processes for the bundling of software packages and the inclusion/exclusion of chargeable items
Enhanced Details: Directory signatures for analysis and identification of false discoveries
BigFix Platform: Included endpoint management features that may be purchased for endpoint security, inventory tracking, OS deployments, patching, etc.
Better Performance: Reporting of up to 250K endpoints
Integration Features: Integration with 3rd party tools via exposed REST APIs
And if your company has a large endpoint footprint or a more complex software bundle, IBM will provide processes to migrate existing Virtual Mappings and software bundling decisions to ILMT v9.5.x. That way, the migration process will save you time and preserve the decisions you’ve already made.
Software licensing compliance can get complicated quickly. And with the constant changes in rules, updates, and trends, it’s easy to get left behind. But what if you could get licensing compliance strategy tips and advice directly from the industry’s top companies?
This year, two of our own—Jason Westfall and Bay Van Horne—will be giving a presentation called IBM Sub-Capacity Compliance During Discovery Tool Transition. The focus of the presentation will be on upgrading ILMT, managing licensing compliance during the upgrade, processes to migrate historical data, notable improvements to the system, and strategies for ongoing maintenance.
At Compliance Manager Summit 2017, you’ll also have the chance to hear from other SAM professionals at IBM, Veritas, Oracle, and other companies give presentations, hold roundtable discussions, and dissect case studies to help attendees get a stronger grasp on compliance.
The conference is great for anybody working in SAM, but especially helpful for:
Software and hardware asset managers
IT audit and compliance program managers and staff
Software compliance auditors
Legal, finance, and accounting staff
Executives wanting to start or grow an internal software management program
Topics covered at Compliance Manager Summit 2017 will include:
Preparing for software audits
Reducing hidden audit costs
New trends in IBM compliance
How to successfully challenge audit findings
Legal approaches to reducing audit/compliance risk
Compliance contract terms
If you work in SAM, Compliance Manager Summit 2017 is a conference you won’t want to miss. It’s all happening March 13 and 14 at the Crowne Plaza Foster City-San Mateo in San Francisco, California. To purchase tickets for the event, or to get more information about the schedule and speakers, be sure to check out the Compliance Manager Summit 2017 website. We look forward to seeing you there.
In order to stay compliant with IBM software terms and regulations, clients must use a supported version of ILMT. (If you’d like to learn more about ILMT and why it’s important for your business, check out our blog here.) With that in mind, here are a couple of important dates regarding ILMT updates.
September 30, 2016: This was the end of support (EOS) date for ILMT v7.2. If you haven’t upgraded yet and are using ILMT v7.2 or earlier, you should update immediately.
April 30, 2017: This is the end of support (EOS) date for ILMT & TAD4D v7.5. Make sure you are using ILMT v9.x by this date.
Using a supported version of ILMT is critical to your business. The most important reason is that clients are required by contract with IBM to use supported versions of ILMT. If you do not, you risk overspending on software because you may be ineligible to receive the benefits of sub-capacity licensing.
IBM will accept reports generated from an unsupported version of ILMT, but these reports could be deemed insufficient or inaccurate. This would cause IBM to consider the client ineligible for sub-capacity pricing, and that could translate to a major increase in cost for your business. The other risk you run by not using a supported version of ILMT is that if you discover any problems associated with your software, IBM may not be able to resolve them.
There’s no reason to take chances: Make sure you’ve completed your migration to ILMT v9.x by April 30, 2017. If you need assistance with this process, or just want to learn more about the newest version of ILMT and why it’s good for your business, be sure to contact us today!