IBM’s IASP: What You Need to Know in a Nutshell

IBM’s IASP

What You Need to Know in a Nutshell

IBM’s IASP: What You Need to Know in a Nutshell

  • 09 February 2021
  • 4.3 minutes to read

The IBM Authorized SAM (Software Asset Management) Program is an IBM Partner assisted self-reporting program. However, the details of the program and how reporting is managed are very strictly defined by IBM. In this program, customers sign up for services with one of a very select few IBM approved partners (Anglepoint, KPMG, EY or Deloitte) to become their IASP Service provider. IBM touts the supposed benefit of limiting IBM audits if the customer remains active on this program. According to IBM, the intent of the IASP is to provide customers with a verification alternative. However, there are arguably no commercial incentives when compared to more flexible Software Lifecycle Management (SLM) programs of the customer’s choosing.

Evolved with Time and Still Battling to Survive

IBM has attempted similar strategies in the past with its License Management Option. Both this former program and the current IASP never reached broad customer adoption as both were only available to IBM’s largest customers with enterprise-level agreements. Then, in 2019 the IASP was re-positioned via marketing claims by IASP partners as “a friendlier, non-punitive approach to compliance”.

Beginning in late 2020 a further announcement was made by Anglepoint claiming additional benefits related to the IASP by allowing additional tools for sub capacity reporting like Aspera, ServiceNow, and Snow, in addition to Flexera without the need for ILMT. Flexera has long been a possible alternative to ILMT via signing a special addendum, and it is expected that use of these additional tools will require a similar special agreement. Interestingly, none of these “secret” agreements are available in the public domain. Further, IBM labels such agreements as “highly confidential”. One must ask, just what is it that IBM is hiding from public view?

The impact of these updates in the program – made only to increase customer interest – are yet to be seen. So far, the IASP continues struggling for its very existence. Thus, constant noise attempting to promote the program appears to be having a negative effect.

Pros and Cons

While IBM and its IASP providers tout only positive aspects of the program, advantages to the program are strongly tilted in IBM’s favor. Even the pros are not necessarily pros to an informed customer. Each has either a very long “string” attached to it or it’s simply not as beneficial as claimed.

Pros

  • Claim: “No formal audit letter.”
    Reality: Notice that this does not preclude an audit.
  • Claim: “Sub-capacity licensing with no full capacity charges regardless of historic ILMT status.”
    Reality: Such charges are generally not probable whether via the IASP or with a formal SLM program from a quality provider. The reason is that all new deployments are discovered within the 90-day contractual widow and resolved.
  • Claim: “No audit fees, back S&S or punitive charges.”
    Reality: First, IBM does not charge audit fees. Further, back S&S applies to only the amount of time a quantity of a product is out of compliance. Whenever issues are identified within the 90-day window, and further resolved during the next 90-day period, there is no retroactive S&S to collect.
  • Claim: “Access of industry leading expertise on IBM licensing knowledge.”
    Reality: As it should be. However, you get this same benefit with any quality SLM program but without the IBM bias.

Cons

  • The IASP is a perpetual audit.
  • It is strictly defined by IBM’s terms with no flexibility for the customer.
  • Shifts audit cost to customer effectively putting more money in the pocket of IBM.
  • IASP partners are all auditors for IBM, and the customer must agree to allow these auditors to provide details to IBM without the customer’s review and approval. These are huge conflicts of interest.

IASP Not for Everyone

The IASP program is not open to all customers and has been based on invitation only to a selected few. These are mainly large, dynamically changing, and complex organizations who have multiple sites and sub-entities as part of a larger portfolio of business. These are customers who have complex environments and represent potential opportunity for IBM to sell more of its solutions around Hybrid Cloud, Cloud, Application Modernization and Digital Transformation which are key to IBMs future growth strategy.

Confusion in the Marketplace

IBM has also recently launched another free tool called License Service to measure usage of IBM products within containerized environments. It is now mandatory to install this new license service within 90 days of deploying applications in a container to be eligible for sub-capacity licensing. For a holistic view across hybrid and cloud environments with both containers and virtual machines, both ILMT and License Service can be readily integrated with IBM Cloud Pak for Multicloud. This functionality is not available in any other tool in the market today.

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