5.02 min to readPublisher Advisory Services

IBM terms & conditions – programs & versions

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Randy BalSolution Consultant for IBM Software
Publisher advisory

It is well-known that the IBM Terms and Conditions are complex, and it takes time and knowledge to properly understand them. Going deeper, this time we will explain more about the IBM programs, support, usage and versions so that you understand the practical impact for your business.


IBM is a large software publisher having a software catalog of more than 12.000 different software programs and each of those programs can in turn contain one or more supporting programs (components). These programs can differ in version, edition and each version or edition may contain different features. To complicate matters, each version or edition may introduce different licensing metrics and may come with different components that may or may not be free of charge and may have their own licensing scenarios (e.g. different licenses for production and/or non-production use, disaster recovery licensing). During the course of an audit, all these characteristics of a program are examined. Together with the product lifetime and the duration of "Subscription and Support", things are going to be complex.

Subscription and Support

When purchasing a license for a software program, usually one year of "Subscription and Support" (S&S) is included with the license. While the license permits you to deploy and use the program, S&S allows you to receive technical support and make use of product updates. It is for you to decide to continue S&S after the first year. If you decide to continue S&S for that product, you can continue to rely on IBM support and implement updates. When you decide to cancel S&S, technical support will end and you are no longer allowed to make use of updates, as made available by IBM, after the date until you paid S&S. An offer in between does not exist. The so-called “All-or-Nothing-Rule” requires you to have S&S on all of your deployments, even including product deployments which are not supported anymore, or none of your deployments (Section 3.8 in the Passport Advantage Agreement).

For example, your environment contains two deployments of IBM Security Identity Manager (ISIM), one version 2.1 and the other on 7.1.

  • You use ISIM version 2.1 in your legacy environment
  • ISIM version 2.1 is Out-Of-Support (OOS) per 2018
  • ISIM version 7.1 is in use for current environment

If you want to receive support on your ISIM 7.1 deployment, you are obliged to acquire S&S for all the ISIM deployments in your environment. This includes literally all your active deployments, including the deployments for ISIM version 2.1. This might sound unreasonable since IBM ended support for 2.1 and consequently technical support and fixes are no longer provided. An underlying reason might be that with S&S, you are permitted to apply upgrades and IBM cannot/will not/is not making a difference for a customer which environment they are going to support or not.

Usage and versions

When you purchase a license to make use of a product, you probably want to deploy the latest version. Besides reviewing the technical requirements, you need to be aware of the licensing terms and conditions. These license terms, the specific usage terms and conditions of a product version are detailed in the IBM License Information Documents (LI-Docs). The LI-Docs contain, among others, a list of versions per supporting program and a list of prohibited components and features. Note that a separate LI-Doc exists per version of a product, which could contain different content. Changes to a LI-Doc are usually communicated via Announcement Letters or Support Notifications.

Here are two examples of changes between versions:

Example 1

Starting with MQ Advanced 9.0.2, the Managed File Transfer Agent (MFT) is included free-for-use. If you previously acquired separate licenses for the MFT, you can terminate S&S since S&S for MFT is included with MQ Advanced 9.0.2.

Example 2

With the new IBM Maximo Asset Management 7.6.1, IBM adds a different DB2 version and edition. DB2 Advanced Workgroup Server Edition OEM Limited Use 11.1 versus DB2 Enterprise Server Edition 10.5. Any update would require you to adapt to and comply with the license terms of the new version.


To remain compliant, you do not only need to monitor the deployment and/or usage of the program, but you also need to control versions, editions and features of the supporting programs. Quite often we see that product-oriented teams (e.g. database administrators) deploy and manage DB2 databases without being aware of the license restrictions. Traditionally, the primary task for database administrators is to maintain system availability, which is usually achieved by standardizing deployments and configurations. While this is a good technical practice, it might lead to a non-compliance situation.

Using an unsupported version of a component may lead to a non-compliance situation for all the deployments of a specific program in your infrastructure. The height of the risk depends on various factors. For example: at a minimum you would risk purchasing a single license for the unsupported version of the component and at a maximum you would risk reinstating S&S for every deployment of the programs in your environment.

Let’s assume you have two Spectrum protect 7.1 environments, one in Datacenter A and another one in Datacenter B.

  • You own a total of 10.000 PVU licenses for Spectrum Protect
  • You have no active Support & Subscription (S&S)
  • You can continue to use the program within the terms and conditions defined at the time of the purchase.
  • At time of the purchase, Spectrum Protect 7.1 included IBM DB2 Enterprise Server Edition 10.5 as it’s supporting program.
  • Since you have no active S&S, upgrading the program, primary and supporting programs, is not permitted.

If one would upgrade the database in Datacenter B to a higher version (e.g. DB2 Enterprise Server Edition 11.1), you could be at risk for all 10.000 PVUs. When under audit, you could be forced to re-instate S&S for all 10.000 PVU’s leading to a huge fine.

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We can help!

Our IBM license experts understand the IBM terms and conditions and support various customers globally to achieve substantial cost savings and avoiding non-compliance situations.

We can help!

Our IBM license experts understand the IBM terms and conditions and support various customers globally to achieve substantial cost savings and avoiding non-compliance situations.


A man in a floral shirt smiles for the camera.

Randy Bal
Solution Consultant for IBM Software

Specialist for IBM Software Licensing and IBM License Metric Tool