Settlement Structuring for IBM Audits

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by | February 15, 2017


Software-compliance audits initiated by IBM can be extremely burdensome and time-consuming and can force companies to face challenges that are somewhat unique among major-publisher audits. For one example, a significant component of IBM’s business model is the acquisition of other software vendors and the integration of those vendors into IBM’s product portfolio, which can complicate the task of identifying the appropriate license metrics and entitlements owned. For another example, companies seeking to license IBM products based on processor resources in virtualized environments must use IBM’s License Metric Tool (ILMT) in order to avoid licensing the products based on the full capacity of the host infrastructure. The ILMT question can become a significant satellite issue to explore during an audit, and failure to demonstrate compliance can yield substantial licensing exposure.

However, once all of the data-collection and license-reconciliation tasks have been addressed, IBM’s auditors will generate a final audit report, and IBM will prepare a proposal to resolve the audit findings. At this stage, companies will need to turn their attention on structuring an appropriate settlement framework that definitively resolves all calculated license shortfalls as well as all, underlying licensing concerns that may have contributed to an imperfect outcome.

Here are some important subjects to keep in mind when negotiating the resolution with IBM:

Fair Purchasing Options

IBM’s default audit resolution typically will incorporate a requirement to purchase licenses equal in kind and quantity to any license shortfalls calculated during the audit. Thus, if a company was found to be over-deployed for WebSphere Application Server (WAS) by 1,000 Processor Value Units (PVUs), IBM will require the company to purchase 1,000 PVU license for WAS. In addition, IBM also usually will require the company to purchase two years of retroactive support for the shortfall license quantity. However, there often are a number of opportunities to maximize the value of the audit resolution:

(1) Minimize Retroactive Support.

If the company can demonstrate that product installations associated with license shortfalls were deployed within the two years prior to the audit, then that information should be discussed in order to reduce the amount demanded for retroactive support.

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