What is IBM® Passport Advantage?

IBM® Passport Advantage (PA) & Passport Advantage Express (PAE or PAX) are IBM programs that use a common set of agreements, processes and tools. They are a bit like a shopping loyalty program and IBM customers can acquire their IBM software licenses & Software Subscription and Support (S&S) through these programs.

It is a relationship based agreement and can have multiple sites under a single agreement; it can also be international in scope. It should offer better pricing for volume purchases over time and is based on customers’ Relationship Suggested Volume Price (RSVP) level. Band Level’s used are BL, D, E, F, G, H; there are also band levels I & J plus Academic (ED) & Government. All sites benefit from RSVP level achieved by aggregate purchases under the agreement and the higher the letter the better the price.

PAE/PAX is primarily, but not exclusively, aimed at smaller customers who expect to conduct relatively few transactions and is a Single Site model. This offering has only one RSVP level which is band level BL.

How do I get a better deal from IBM using Passport Advantage?

The higher the RSVP level the better the price. A RSVP level is determined by aggregating points for all eligible products (EPs) ordered during the Client’s Term (getting technical now, but you need to in order to fully understand PA). The initial Term commences with the Client’s first order after enrollment and continues until the last day of the twelfth full month thereafter (i.e. the initial PA term includes 12 full months S&S, plus if the order was not placed on the first day of a month, the remainder of the first month). On the first day of the month following the end of the prior Term (the Anniversary), the next 12 month Term begins. For each Term after the initial Term, the Client’s RSVP level is reset on the Anniversary, based on EPs acquired by all participating Client Sites during the prior Term. The RSVP level for a new Term will not be lowered by more than one level below the Client’s RSVP level at the end of the prior Term. Got it?

Anyway, the point value of the Client’s initial EP order determines the Client’s initial RSVP level. IBM Client’s may attain a higher RSVP level by placing additional EP orders. The higher RSVP level will apply to orders placed after the higher RSVP level is attained. An SVP level is also calculated for each order, and is based on the point value for that order. If the SVP level for a particular order is higher than the Client’s current RSVP level, the SVP level will apply to that order.

So, in simple terms the more you buy from IBM the better the price they will give you!

Did I hear IBM changed some of the Passport Advantage terms recently?

Yes in 2014 they changed the Program terms so if you want to continue IBM S&S you must maintain S&S for all uses and installations of the software. If you want to renew at a lesser quantity than stated on your IBM renewal quote then you must provide a report that verifies current IBM software usage and installation, and you may be required to provide other compliance verification information too. So be careful!

BTW, this is in place at the PA site level so it’s crucial that your PA agreement and sites are all set up as you need them. For example, they can be set up at a Department level, Project level, Country level or Address level. According to IBM, S&S benefits cannot be used for purposes which they have not been fully paid for. If you do, then you must acquire IBM S&S Reinstatement sufficient to cover all such unauthorized use at then current IBM prices. IBM Reinstatement cost is a penalty cost and can be three times the cost of a renewal. Ouch!

But the good news is that you do NOT lose the right to use the licensed software if you do not have S&S!

What should I do if I have an IBM Passport Advantage Agreement?

Well for starters we suggest you be pro-active and start to understand your IBM PA rights and entitlements better. You are potentially one letter from your next IBM audit. So here are some of the things that we strongly suggest you get a clear understanding of;

  • What IBM PA/PAE/PAX program do I have?
  • Who in my company is the ‘owner’ of this program?
  • Am I getting the best band level price?
  • Am I entitled to Government or Academic band level price?
  • What license entitlements do I own?
  • What licenses have active support on them and what licenses have expired support?
  • What versions am I entitled to use?
  • Are there any expired support licenses that I can reinstate instead of purchasing new licenses? (cost saving of about 50%)
  • Can I migrate any licenses that I no longer require to another part of the company enterprise, thus saving me money?
  • Do I have any active licenses with S&S that I no longer use/require?
  • Are there any licenses that I have sitting on PAE/PAX or an FCT* site that can now be moved to the enterprise-hardened IBM support offering of PA? N.B. The onus is on you to pro-actively migrate your licenses to PA.
  • Are there any licenses that I could avail of for sub-capacity licensing? Nearly all PVU-based products are now eligible for sub-capacity licensing. Only those that won’t run in a virtual machine are ineligible.
  • Do I have access to PA Online?
  • Who else has access to PA Online? Remember, you could still have active access for people that no longer work at your organization; or even a third party company that provided a service to you in the past.
  • Who has downloaded my IBM software?
  • Do I need to grant access to others and how do I set this up?
  • Are my renewal quotes going to the right person in my organization?
  • Are there any media packs that I am entitled to free of charge? N.B. Media packs can cost upward of a thousand pounds.
  • Are there any IBM software bundles that I can avail of instead of purchasing individual products? IBM have some Complete Enterprise Option (CEO) products that may save you money.
  • Do I have the correct number of licenses; PVUs, Users, UVUs, Install, Server, RVUs etc?

These are just some of the questions that you need to know the answers to. Look, no one likes a software audit; they can be aggressive, complicated, invasive… okay, you know where this metaphor is going. The point is that even when you’re finally led drooling from the dentist’s chair not only are you in pain and out of pocket, you’re also still none the wiser when it comes to to understanding the vendor’s licensing metrics. More often than not organizations and end users are not in control during an audit; however, if you know the answers to the questions above then there is a way you can take back some control. So don’t delay; get organzsed and audit-ready today; get control of your SAM estate and get the upper hand on dentists!… Sorry, software vendors!


Many questions arise when thinking about whether or not to make the move to a third-party software maintenance provider for your IBM® estate. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about TPSM.

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