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IBM ILMT: the good, the bad and the complicated

An increasingly common topic of discussion when we’re talking to clients about their IBM deployments is the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) or, to be more specific, the importance and value of using it.  There is no getting round that fact that ILMT can be extremely complicated to install, let alone configure. As a result, many organisations struggle to understand the tool’s true benefits, with few making its implementation a priority.  Here we take a closer look at ILMT or, more specifically, why just having it is not enough. We also consider some of the common pitfalls to avoid should you decide to deploy it.


ILMT isn’t compulsory, but it is nearly always crucial

The most obvious advantage of ILMT is that it enables you to license your IBM products in virtualised environments in an efficient and optimised way. By signing up to use ILMT, you are able to license your PVU software at a sub-capacity level. If you opt out of ILMT, you are required to purchase licenses covering the whole of the host capacity, which is clearly going to be much more expensive, as it requires you are buy licenses for capacity you don’t use or need. In the most extreme circumstances, you may even be required to license 64 cores when you are in fact only using two.  IBM software is not cheap and the commercial impact can be significant.

Furthermore, it allows organisations to create and maintain an up-to-date inventory and measurements of their PVU and RVU MAPC software deployments. As you will be recording and reporting on your license usage in IBM’s preferred format, you are in a much better position to defend an audit.

In short, ILMT will help with compliance as well as save you money. But that’s only if it’s managed correctly, and here lies the tricky part.


ILMT’s many ‘gotchas’

The most common ILMT-related complaint we hear is around reporting. When facing an audit, IBM requires its customers to provide two years’ worth of quarterly usage reports yet the ILMT tool isn’t pre-configured to produce these reports. That IBM’s approved tool isn’t able to automatically generate information in IBM’s approved format is a major source of frustration to many of our clients.

Indeed, many of the tool’s capabilities aren’t automated and require a high-degree manual intervention to get right. This doesn’t just apply to generating reports in readiness for an audit. The installation process is particularly cumbersome, while each and every time the environment changes – with more products or deployments added – the tool must be manually assessed and re-configured. If someone forgets to make the necessary changes, or makes an error during what is a complex process, then reports become inaccurate, audits become more onerous, and compliance becomes even harder to validate.

ILMT management has a big hit on in-house teams, who are required to spend time and resources on activities their employers would never consider mission critical. Furthermore, installing, integrating and configuring ILMT is by no means a routine task. These processes require highly specialist skills; skills that few organisations currently have, or have an appetite to invest in.

Once installed, configured and working correctly, the next task is to ensure the tool is reporting accurately on the software it finds across your environment, and what it finds is in line with the software you are entitled to use. This is no mean feat; many organisations find this process particularly labour-intensive and time-consuming. It often takes close collaboration between application, server, purchasing and SAM teams to make sure everything is classified correctly; with the amount of IBM products and metrics, this is often likened to the ‘dark arts.’

Another hidden risk of ILMT – and one that few organisations realise – is that not all technologies and operating systems are eligible. Software that is out-of-support – for example, platforms like Windows 2003 and Redhat 5, or hypervisors like VMWare ESX 5.0 and below – simply can’t be licensed at a sub-capacity level. In this scenario, even if your organisation’s licenses correspond exactly with your usage, you would be non-compliant because IBM stipulates you must have licenses to cover the full capacity.

When managed correctly and on an ongoing basis, there is no doubt that ILMT can be an effective business enabler – allowing organisations to optimise their software estates as well as improve their audit posture. When it’s not, it’s an added complication and drain on resources.



Paul Matarazzo, IBM Licensing Lead and Principal Consultant

Paul has worked in the IT industry for 17 years, the last 5 years being in the SAM space, with an extensive background in IT Infrastructure and Service Delivery, now an SME in IBM Vendor SAM and Audit, currently leading the IBM & RedHat Licensing Consultancy within Derive Logic, specialising in IBM Licensing Compliance Services, including ILMT installation & configuration.

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