Date: 
July 20, 2018
Author: 
Tomás O'Leary
Date: 
7.20.2018
Author: 
Tomás O'Leary

As the Dalai Lama once noted, “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” Although he may have been talking about relationships between individuals, the same principle actually applies to business relationships too – including those between businesses.

IBM licensing is a source of major distrust for software asset managers – often because they are not completely sure what their rights are. Complex language, very long documents and general unhelpfulness when dealing with older software create an overall lack of transparency in contracts.

But cutting through the obfuscation (that’s BS to you and me) may not be as hard as you think.

Ignore the legalese

Software contracts are notorious for being complex, not least because of the complexity of the language used. In an effort to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’, lawyers can easily create agreements that no one fully understands. Even huge multinationals like brewer AB InBev (the makers of Stella, Budweiser, Becks etc.) who employ their own in-house legal teams struggle to make sense of their software licenses – often at great cost.

But when it comes to IBM licensing, the basic principles are the same:

  • Always ensure you have enough licenses to cover your active users.
  • Do not copy software.
  • Do not use applications outside their original intended purpose.

None of this is rocket science – despite the best efforts of IBM’s lawyers. Common sense is probably one of the best tools you have for maintaining compliance with the terms of your IBM software license.

Know your headline rights

Despite being many pages long, the most important details of your IBM licensing agreements take up little more than a few paragraphs. The remaining legalese has little bearing on the duties of the software asset manager.

Again, your headline rights are typically fairly easy to understand, and will be common across most IBM software licenses. You are permitted to:

  • Operate software indefinitely – even after official support ends.
  • Redeploy licenses – even across different sites.
  • Reinstall software as and when required – so long as you have sufficient licenses in place.

IBM licensing is perpetual – any licenses purchased are yours to use until they are disposed of or sold (if you are in the European Economic Area). You do not have to upgrade licenses just because a product version is retired.

Just make sure that any new deployments conform to any specific use case terms in the software license.

Use the tools provided

Every new software IBM customer is given access to the Passport Advantage portal. This incredibly useful resource is where IBM records details of every product your business has ever purchased, along with a full license count for each.

The trouble is that many software asset managers have inherited their job – but the necessary login details for Passport Advantage were never passed on. The Passport Advantage portal is an essential tool for IBM software licenses – this is the single point of reference that IBM auditors use when assessing usage across your sites.

If you do not have the relevant login details, speak to Origina. Navigating the complexity of the IBM software world is our domain, and being able to see details of licenses is a crucial aspect of overall transparency.

You're not alone - Get help

Most day-to-day IBM licensing issues are fairly straightforward. But when a licensing question does come up, even your IBM account manager will struggle. With hundreds of different applications and versions, each covered by its own specific licensing agreement, it is impossible for one person to stay on top of all the possible permutations, so you may find yourself receiving bad advice, even from IBM themselves.

As third party IBM software license experts – Origina – offers a credible alternative. We maintain a database of every software license for every IBM application version so even if we can’t remember a specific license clause, we can look it up, and provide transparency advice too.

The reality is that by combining common sense with Passport Advantage and third party assistance, licensing transparency can be relatively straightforward. If you are worried about the threat of an IBM audit at some point in the future and would like to know exactly where you stand, please give the Origina team a call.

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