IBM Contract Knowledge: The Difference between a SAM Guru and a SAM Rookie

Business software licenses are long, complicated and confusing – which is exactly the way lawyers like it. For everyone else – including software asset managers – IBM software contracts are a complete nightmare. 

The problem is that these 100+ page documents are dense and overlong as lawyers try to cover every eventuality, skewing any additional opportunities in the favor of IBM. As a result, large portions of each IBM software contract can be ignored – at least on a day-to-day basis anyway.

But when administrative mistakes are made, the blame will fall on the SAM or the license manager. Make a mistake, and you look like a rookie.

Knowing business software license details is about more than just saving face though.

It’s a key part of your job

As the individual responsible for maintaining software licensing compliance, the SAM is (rightly) expected to stay on top of contract details. It is not unreasonable to expect you to be on top of the details of your business software

Software asset management is about more than simply ensuring you have the correct license count in place. You must also ensure that software is being used in line with the terms of the license. If your use case or deployment model has changed at all, you should conduct an urgent review to avoid a potential headache during your next IBM license audit.

It leaves your business vulnerable at contract renewal time

IBM software contract renewal time is always a major headache for the SAM. Your IBM account manager (or IBM Business Partner) will be trying to ensure you pay as much as possible for ongoing maintenance, quoting “all or nothing” rules or policies from the latest updated IBM’s International Passport Advantage Agreement. At the same time, you will be trying to bargain a reduction on the initial quote provided.

For rookie SAMs, this is a period of great danger. If you do not know the terms of your existing contract, it will be impossible to tell whether you are being offered a good deal, or if there are any new, punitive clauses being inserted into the contract that may come back to bite you.

The actual renewal passes off smoothly, but you later see an increase in the cost of add-ons, services or even the basic annual maintenance cost or, worse still, it’s what you don’t see – such as End of Service (EoS) dates for products you have just included in the maintenance renewal. A simple, and easily avoided, mistake – if you know your existing IBM software contract terms and the associated product licence information.

Your business software license audits will go badly

Software audits are constant “threat” for your business – eventually IBM will arrive on site to compare actual license usage against entitlement. Faced by a team of auditors keen to identify lucrative shortfalls, it is easy for the unprepared to make rookie mistakes.

It is essential that your routine license checks take account of where software is being used, and whether you have enough licenses to cover that usage. You must also verify that software is being used in accordance with the applicable IBM software contract; without knowledge of the contract details however, you will be unable to make that call.

Only a rookie would assume that the audit is focused solely on license counts. You can be certain that when the auditors arrive on site, they will also be checking every application is being used according to thespecific terms of your business
software licenses.

There’s nothing rookie about asking for help

Perhaps the biggest rookie mistake is to assume that you will be able to “muddle through” licensing problems. Given an infinite amount of time, that may be possible – but your next IBM software contract renewal or audit is certain to happen before then.

The best way to avoid looking like a rookie is to talk to business software license experts who can lend their expertise. Not only will this help resolve software contract queries in advance of an audit, but your own reputation will be enhanced as you discover how to better use existing software assets according to your contractual entitlements.

Learn about the six best practice pillars of a SAM Guru to avoid rookie IBM software contract mistakes, or to get help please get in touch.


Customer demand inspires third-party software support and maintenance (TPSM) provider to extent its proven methodology to a wider range of IBM products.

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