IBM audits: complicated and getting nasty

IBM audits are never welcome, but they are increasingly becoming part of the norm. Why? IBM has targeted software to comprise 50% of its total revenue by 2015– this growth is not from SoftLayer or Watson’s cognitive computing alone.

In the past, long-time IBM customers who have been audited felt that they did well even if they needed to true-up. Things have changed. The settlement process has taken on an adversarial tone with repeated threats of theft of intellectual property, rather than a civil discussion regarding usage and a straightforward cost for over deployed licenses plus two years back support.

IBM insists it could ask for a settlement in excess of current usage if its licensing measurement tool is not in use, and then applies some shady methodology called ‘sharing the burden’. However it’s presented, the settlement amount is in excess of a straight true-up and may include a new license purchase unrelated to the client’s current usage but bundled as part of the settlement. The client is prevented from settling without the new license purchase which by itself could financially exceed the true-up license cost multiple times over.

It may be a company will not be subjected to this new audit method. Or, a company could be a fully compliant IBM customer that runs ILMT or a Tivoli tool, looks at the reports for accuracy, and if a purchase was necessary will make the purchase. If a company is IBM loyal, perhaps there is a deeper understanding of IBM’s licensing language. With all that said, in today’s enterprise, with the vastness of IBM products and its aggressive auditing techniques, it’s not impossible to remain compliant, just complicated.

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