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How to Succeed With IBM Sub-Capacity Licensing

With today’s technology heading toward extreme measures of virtualization and a variety of different strategies of deploying into the cloud, it has never been so important for companies to understand how to get the most out of IBM’s Sub-capacity pricing option. Easier said than done, right? Because it is so essential for organizations to know how to calculate and maximize their IBM licensing, we are breaking it down to help you understand how Sub-capacity licensing works and sharing a few tips to help your organization move towards success.

What is Sub-Capacity Licensing?

Per IBM, “Sub-capacity licensing lets you license an eligible software product for less than the full capacity of your server or group of servers."

The easiest way to determine the difference between Sub-capacity and full capacity licensing is that consumption/deployment is calculated by:

  • Sub-Capacity = # of cores on the virtual machine (VM)
  • Full Capacity = # of cores on the physical host

Full Capacity vs. Sub-Capacity – Why It Matters? 

Unless you are fully compliant with IBM’s Sub-capacity licensing terms and requirements, you will be charged based on the number of cores on the physical host, NOT the VM.

This means that if the product is installed on a VM that has two cores and that VM sits on a physical hostthat has thirty-two cores unless you qualify for Sub-capacity licensing, you will be required to license all thirty-two cores of the physical host.

This is, by far, the most common pitfall experienced among IBM customers. Every day, we work with companies who could have saved millions of dollars in audit findings and software spend if they had understood IBM’s Sub-capacity terms and what it takes to maintain complicance.

Sub-Capacity Requirements 

To qualify for IBM Sub-capacity licensing customers must:

  1. Install IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) within 90 days of first use of eligible Sub-capacity product.
  2. Produce and retain quarterly reports (ILMT audit snapshot) for at least two years and make available at IBM’s request.

A few extremely important notes of caution

Customers will often interpret the above to mean that all they are required to do is install ILMT somewhere in their environment (doesn’t matter where – just get ILMT installed somewhere). The correct answer is, EVERY capacity-based deployment must have ILMT installed in order to qualify for Sub-capacity licensing. In other words, if a PVU product is deployed on a machine and said machine does not have ILMT installed, it will be counted at full capacity.

Additionally, ILMT must also be maintained as it will be used by IBM to determine consumption/license position during an audit. If ILMT is not maintained, incorrect/un-licensed products will show up as over-deployed (more on this in “Software Classification" section below).

What Is ILMT?

IBM’s License Metric Tool (ILMT) is a FREE IBM-provided software asset management tool designed to help users maintain an audit-ready posture. Although the tool is free, customers are responsible for supplying hardware and knowing how to install it properly or hiring someone that does (cue the applause for Anglepoint).

Exceptions to ILMT Requirement

There are a few exceptions to IBM’s ILMT requirement, these are:

1. Use an Eligible Virtualization Environment that is not supported by ILMT.

Pretty straightforward, if you’re using a virtualization technology that is not supported by ILMT, how can IBM require you to install ILMT? With that said, chances are this exception will not apply to you as we’re unaware of any major virtualization technology that is not already supported by ILMT.

2. Have less than 1,000 employees and contractors AND the total physical capacity of your server environment, measured on a full capacity basis is less than 1,000 PVUs, and you are not an IBM service provider nor contracted with an IBM service provider to manage your environment.

Often time, companies are small enough that they qualify for the 1,000 employee exception, however, it’s unlikely they will meet both the 1,000 employees and 1,000 PVU exception together.

The reason is because the 1,000 PVU criteria is based on counting your environment at full capacity.

For example, let’s say the processor type on your physical host server, where the PVU product is deployed, has a PVU-per-core rating of 100 (more on PVU-per-core ratings below). With a PVU-per-core rating of 100 (very common), you can have one, and only one, PVU based product deployed on one, and only one, machine where the physical host has a max of 10 cores (10 cores*100 PVU core = 1,000 PVUs). Chances are you won’t meet this criteria when calculating at full capacity.

3. The environment is already licensed to full capacity.

Again, this third exception is pretty straightforward. If you’re already counting your environment at full capacity, there’s no need to worry about qualifying for sub-capacity and hence no need to install ILMT.

A few more extremely important notes of caution:

For all exceptions above, customers must still MANUALLY manage, track, and calculate PVU virtual capacity and maintain said documentation for at least two years.

You can use IBM’s template to manually track your consumption. To download the template, click on the link below and expand the “Essentials” drop-down found on the right-hand side of the page. There, you will see the download link for “Manual Calculation of Virtualization Capacity.”

Calculating PVUs

Like we stated above, it’s important that you continue to calculate PVU for at least two years. The formula for calculating PVU’s is:

– Full Capacity = PVU-per-core * # sockets on physical host * # cores per socket on the physical host
– Sub-Capacity = PVU-per-core * # cores assigned to virtual machine

The first variable in both equations is knowing the PVU-per-core rating. To determine your rating, you need to know the processor type, processor model, and the number of sockets on your physical host.

Once you have that information, you can use IBM’s PVU Table to identify your PVU-per-core rating. We have included the link to the table below. Once on the page, scroll halfway down and expand either section 1 or section 2 of the “PVU Table per Core” drop-downs.

IBM’s PVU Table

Calculating Core Counts

The second variable in the equation is knowing your core counts. Again, for full capacity:
– Core Count (Full-Capacity) = # Sockets * # Cores per Socket
For sub-capacity, all you need to know is the number of cores assigned to the VM.

With your PVU-per-core rating and your core counts, you can now manually calculate your total PVU consumption.

How to Succeed with Sub-Capacity Licensing

Now that you have a better view of the difference between Sub Capacity and Full Capacity licensing and how to calculate your consumption, we want to review a few steps you can take within ILMT to be successful with Sub-capacity licensing.

ILMT Install – Quick Overview
There is a lot that goes into installing and configuring ILMT to work properly in your environment. So much so, it is one of our most popular services and justifies the need for an entire team (our Tooling Team) to help customers with this one task.

From a high-level point of view, the ILMT installation process is comprised of eight steps:

1. Make a zero dollar purchase of ILMT in Passport Advantage (PPA)
2. Download ILMT install package(s) (Windows or Linux)
3. Build server(s) for Bigfix, ILMT and databases
4. Install Bigfix and ILMT
5. Deploy agents to servers you want to track for IBM software
6. Configure ILMT to run hardware and software scans
7. Configure VCenter connections
8. Update ILMT with latest Software catalog and PVU Table

ILMT – Health Check
Once ILMT is installed, the first thing you should check, each and every time you login to the ILMT console is your agent deployment health. By managing and tracking your agent health, you can ensure the deployment of ILMT in your environment remains healthy/complete.
Your agent health is comprised of the top three boxes of the ILMT home page (Deployment Health, Scan Health, IBM Capacity Data Completeness):

ILMT Health Check

The target with Agent Health is to ensure all blue hyperlinks within each of the three boxes is showing between 0% and 5%. If you have a percentage that is showing greater than 5%, the error should be addressed and steps should be taken to remediate.

The errors that affect licensing/the errors you will want to pay special attention to are:

– Disconnected (often decommed machines)
– Failed Scan
– Missing Software Scan
– No Scan Data
– No Host Scan Data
– No VM Manager Data (very common)

ILMT – Software Classification
The most time consuming, cumbersome, and difficult part of ILMT is software classification, or what we like to refer to as bundling.

When ILMT scans each machine, it identifies the software components installed. ILMT then makes its best guess as to which product those components belong to/which product is licensed on the box.

More often than not, these default component-to-product assignments are incorrect and are listed as “Pending” software classifications.

Your job is to change each default assignment from “Pending” to “Completed.” To do this, you need to review each assignment and either confirm the assignment is correct, reassign to a different product, or exclude the instance (i.e. DR server).

To confirm:
– Hover on the check-mark drop-down and select “Confirm”

To reassign component to a different product:
– Hover on the chain-link drop-down and select “Choose from Catalog”
– Search for the correct product → Select/highlight the correct product once identified → Click “Assign” in the bottom right-hand corner

To exclude:
– Hover on the X drop-down and select “Exclude Product from Metric Calculation”
– Make sure to add a comment and select “Exclude”

ILMT – Thresholds
Once software classification is complete, entitlement thresholds can be set to alert you when a product is out of compliance. The threshold you set for a product should correspond/match the license entitlements you own for that product.

To set entitlement thresholds navigate to:

Reports → All IBM Metrics → Configure View (gear icon to the far right) → Thresholds Check Box → Submit → Select the pencil icon within the “Threshold” column → Click “Set Threshold” → Enter threshold quantity → Click “Set” in the bottom right-hand corner.

ILMT Thresholds

ILMT – Audit Snapshot
The main requirement to qualify for Sub-capacity licensing is to:
– Produce and retain quarterly reports for at least two years and make available at IBM’s request

The “quarterly report” in reference is the ILMT Audit Snapshot. To generate an audit snapshot, navigate to:

Reports → All IBM Metrics → Audit Snapshot → Include an optional comment (i.e. Q1 2019) → Generate

***Note, if the “Recalculate” button is showing as a clickable option, you first need to click “Recalculate” before you generate the audit snapshot. A clickable recalculate option implies there are changes that you made (i.e. software classifications, etc.) that have yet to be accounted for in the audit snapshot. To ensure the changes are applied, you first need to recalculate.

Understanding Sub-capacity licensing and how to fully optimize ILMT to your advantage is essential to succeeding with IBM licensing. However, as you can see, there are a lot of things to learn and the process can be overwhelming if your organization lacks the manpower and expertise needed. Talking to Anglepoint can provide you with the support you need to help manage the process and ensure your organization is fully optimized and in control when it comes to IBM’s Sub-capacity licensing.

How Can We Help?
Anglepoint has services that can help your organization implement and maintain IBM Sub-capacity compliance. We offer:

– Contract review (ELA, ESSO, etc.)
– Entitlement review
– IBM Baseline
– Quarterly ILMT report generation, bundling analysis, and ILMT ELP report summary
– Annual/semi-annual Non-ILMT deployment summary

If you would like extra guidance or support, please reach out to us and schedule a time to talk with an IBM expert.

Let’s start a conversation.