Dealing with the Three Main Challenges of Managing your IBM Estate

The latest industry research shows IBM to be the most prolific auditor of late – (with them conducting 55% of audits in 2012) and we’ve identified three main challenges when it comes to managing IBM estates:

Challenge 1 – understanding acronyms & keeping up to date with license changes

We have seen more and more organizations struggle to stay on top of the complexities of IBM licenses and one of the reasons we have found is the plethora of acronyms they use for their documentation. So to help combat this obstacle, we thought we’d explain the acronyms to help you better understand their meanings;

– Proof of Entitlement (PoE): Written confirmation of the license entitlement
– License Information (LI): Information of the licenses policies
– Compliance Verification: Includes the polices set forth and any attachments
– Complete Enterprise Option (CEO): A group of products to be deployed per user basis across an enterprise
– Software Subscription and Support (S&S): Subscription software and its support
– Passport Advantage Agreements (IPAA): Agreement that governs all distributed software
– International Program License Agreement (IPLA): Information providing the cross country licensing for all software

Each of the acronyms above are documents or agreements that IBM expect you to stay up to date with when using their software and they put sole responsibility on your organization to proactively seek out any changes – so it goes without saying that it’s important you do! You’ll find all of the information you need on IBM’s policy websites – some of which are listed here:

IBM Software License Agreements
IBM Software Policies

Challenge 2 –Disjoined internal license management & procurement strategies

In some organizations each department may have separate tactics for managing their part of the IBM license life cycle, such as Contract Managers using a management system to track and manage terms and conditions, but not communicating these to IT Procurement or SAM Managers who may use a separate internal system or even perform tasks manually. Not knowing which system and strategy is giving the most up to date picture can lead the organization to a state of confusion and non-compliance – it’s therefore simply suggested that all stakeholders align their processes and information into a single ‘central source of truth’.

Challenge 3 – Demonstrating an up to date compliance status

In order to prove the organization is compliant, all the documentation that goes with each license (listed in challenge 1) needs to be kept up to date with the current T&Cs, otherwise it could lead to unexpected penalties. By checking the terms and conditions on IBM’s websites the IT, Procurement and SAM Managers may find it easier to understand the key aspects of these agreements, and if there is a policy change in one of these documents then all relevant stakeholders need to be made aware and the relevant documentation must be replaced with the newer version. As changes are identified your organization’s central contract management system should also be amended so that accurate reporting can be distributed to all the stakeholders in the organization. By tracking and managing all changes in a centralized repository, all departments can view and analyse the data to become aware of any variations. Sharing updates, such as newer software versions, to the technical staff and end users will make everyone aware of the recent activity and help ensure the organization is not only receiving the full value from its agreements but are also in a compliant position.

A one size fits all solution – Improve communication and work together

Communication between different departments is the key to dealing with IBM licensing challenges because as different issues arise, such as new licenses coming into play, renegotiation of existing contracts or amended terms and conditions to software you have in place, each stakeholder will know how to adapt and help the organization stay on top of their intricate environment and overcome any compliance issues. We would recommend your organization holds a quarterly meeting which includes all the key IBM licensing stakeholders from each department to review the IBM T&C’s. All relevant changes should then be communicated as required clearly outlining any actions and the implications of the updates.

As each piece of software needs its PoE, LI, invoice and proof of payment present when IBM request a software audit of your estate, we recommend that as part of the standard license management process SAM managers store each document in a central repository as it comes in, and make the stakeholders aware of where they are stored in the quarterly meetings or monthly emails. By staying on top of all documentation and reviewing it regularly, organizations are making and keeping themselves “audit ready”.

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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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