Jul 4, 2018
Tomás O'Leary
Tomás O'Leary
Tomás O'Leary

IBM software contracts and licenses are
notoriously complex – and deliberately so. The reason is simple – the more
complicated a license, the harder it becomes for customers to define exactly
what they are (and are not) allowed to do with the application.

Arguably, IBM licensing complexity helps to
keep customers locked into the perpetual software upgrade cycle. But for the
customers themselves, IBM software contracts in their current form are bad for


1. Unclear usage terms

When IBM end support for a particular product
version, are you still able to use it? Or if you upgrade, are licenses for the
old software version invalidated? Can you continue to use software without an
IBM maintenance contract in place?

All of these are valid questions – and none of
them are easily answered. You could ask your IBM account manager, but don't
expect a straight answer. Assuming they know the answers (there’s a very real chance
they don’t), you will be actively dissuaded from continuing to use
– doing so will reduce IBM’s earning potential from your

If you can’t get the answers you need, the
only “safe” option is to buy more licenses, or to upgrade your platform – both
of which may involve unnecessary operational disruption and cost.


2. Unclear costs

As digital transformation efforts get
underway, your operations team will begin to test the limits of what they can
do with your applications. Push too far in the wrong direction however, and you
could incur unexpected additional costs for using software and APIs outside the
terms of your license.
Sounds crazy? Don’t forget that IBM often
reserves the right to change your contracts unilaterally – and without spending
too much energy on bringing those changes to your attention. Worse still, IBM
assumes that by renewing your maintenance contract you also accept those
These place two additional burdens on the SAM.
First, they must fully understand the terms and conditions of their IBM
licensing. Second, they will need to be included in early discussions about
future projects to prevent API or license misuse. Use example Josh forwarded on
about how IBM changed the bundles software depending on the SW version. When
they upgrade to a new version, they potentially/unknowingly need extra SW.

Without the ability to understand potential
costs, it is impossible to budget for them. The operations director could
foreseeably exceed their budget – and the SAM may end up taking the blame.


3. Wasted time and resources

The ambiguity of IBM licensing terminology is
a resource drain. Every hour spent trying to understand what you think the
contract means is an hour that could be better spent on strategic projects.
The same is true of IBM® software contract
renewals. The process takes months to complete because of the constant
to-and-fro between parties seeking the best possible outcomes. Again, the time
and resources sunk into renewals because the contract is fiendishly complicated
could be better spent on improving your own products and services.


through the noise

As stated previously, IBM have no interest in
making their licensing easier to understand, particularly while maintenance
renewals represent an important revenue stream for their shareholders. But in
order to meet the strategic goals of your business, you must be able to
properly understand what you can, and cannot do, with the licenses you own.
By far the easiest way to get the answer you
need is via an independent advisor. As an IBM third party support provider we
have in-depth knowledge of the licenses for many IBM products. The fact is, our
knowledge is on par if not better than that of your account manager at IBM.

We can help you understand your entitlements,
and how they are best applied to your future projects. And by helping to extend
the lifespan of your software assets, we can also reduce disruption to
operations, and your running costs.


To learn more, please

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