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6.33 min to readPublisher Advisory Services

IBM’s Passport Advantage Agreement – an overview

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Randy BalSolution Consultant for IBM Software
Publisher advisory

End users typically purchase their IBM software licenses and services against a so–called Passport Advantage (PA) agreement, and that might be the case for you as well, if you’re using IBM software. But do you have a clear understanding of what this agreement is all about? Do you understand its ramifications? Do you understand what you need to know to effectively manage your software licenses? Generally, the information you need to manage your IBM compliance position is found in different places, so do you know what kind of other sources of information should be taken into account?

IBM listed the most common used agreements on the IBM Terms page, but does that answer all your questions? In this article we’ll have a look at the best known IBM agreement: PA and we’ll explain in detail the most important terms and conditions included in it. 

IBM’s Passport Advantage Agreements – different types

End users can order new software licenses, renew Subscription and Support (S&S) and subscribe to IBM Cloud Services offerings through the IBM Passport Advantage Agreements (IPAA).

There are two versions of the IPAA: 

  • a regular version which is relationship based, requires enrollment and is designated for larger and multi-site end user organizations, and
  • an express version which offers the simplicity of a transaction–based purchase designated for smaller and single site companies

Depending on the size and duration of the transaction, enrolling as an IBM customer could reduce cost as you can take advantage of volume discounts. More differences between the regular and express versions can be found here. 

IBM’s Passport Advantage Agreements – associated contractual documents

Independent of how software or service is purchased, each purchase is subject to IBM terms. By accepting these terms, you confirmed that you have read and that you will respect the rules defined in one or more of these agreements: 

In addition, if software has been purchased under IPAA or IPAEA, you also have confirmed to have read and will respect these three agreements: 

And if you enrolled, in a similar fashion, also these three agreements apply:

  • Client Relationship Agreement (CRA)
  • Transaction Documents (TDs) – Containing Statement of Work, Schedules, Invoice which usually apply to the current transaction
  • Additional Attachments or supplemental terms specific for you as an end user  

IBM Passport Advantage Agreement – What is Important?

The below section provides an overview of the five most important terms and conditions that you have agreed upon and which you should take into account when deploying IBM software programs within your organization:

1. You have agreed that you can provide auditable records of your software utilization to prove that the use of entitled programs is in compliance with the contractual terms and conditions agreed on

These records can include:

  • an ILMT audit report when licensing under sub capacity term
  • program specific scripts like db2 license commands
  • LDAP group membership
  • Program screenshots

2. You have agreed that you have subscribed to IBM Support notifications. By making use of support notifications

IBM will notify you of price changes, metric changes or support withdrawal(s). Keep in mind that with every new order or renewal, you are required to review the updated terms.


MQ component “Managed File Transfer Agent” was charged in MQ Advanced V9.0 and became free- of-charge in MQ Advanced V9.1.3. If you have upgraded to MQ Advanced V9.1.3 this will lower the license utilization. For more details, please see the announcement letter.

3. You have agreed that you have acquired sufficient Subscription and Support (S&S) for all software uses and installations

‘All software uses and installations‘ literally means all uses and all installations of a program independent of the version, regardless if a part of the deployments is out-of-support. This is the so-called “All-or-Nothing”-rule.

4. You have agreed that you will allow IBM to verify your compliance and conduct verification on-site during business hours within reasonable notice

IBM may use an independent auditor to assist such verification. 

5. You have agreed that you will inform IBM and acquire sufficient licenses prior to increasing capacity, e.g. adding additional processor capacity or allowing additional users to access the software product

When you receive an update, fix, or patch to a program, you accept any additional or different terms that are applicable to such update, fix, or patch that are specified in its license document.

As an example, have a look at the changes for MQ Advanced v9.1.3 LI-Doc. You should notice a change in “Components Not Used for Establishing Required Entitlements”

The importance of IBM sub-capacity licensing terms

The sub capacity terms and conditions will almost in all cases require you to deploy the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT). As per the IPAA, you have agreed to implement ILMT within 90 days of the software product deployment. Check out our website to find in detail explanations of terms and conditions, benefits and limitations, as well as implementation and maintenance of ILMT. 

The importance of IBM license information documents

The License Information Documents (a.k.a. LI Docs) are the starting point to finding the parameters to review software compliance. A compliance check involves comparing the installed product, component, versions and utilization against your entitlements.

The LI Docs website allows you to search for a program version and provides:

  • A list of components (Supporting Programs) which are included with the Primary Program
  • A list of possible Units of Measure
  • A list of components which are used or not used for determining the number of required entitlements for the program
  • Usage limitations
  • Prohibited component or features

As an example, you can find below a shortened version of the LI Doc of IBM DB2 Standard Edition 11.5.

Supporting Programs:

  • IBM Database Add-ins for Visual Studio 11.5
  • IBM Data Server Driver for JDBC and SQLJ 4.26
  • IBM Data Server Driver for ADO.Net 11.5 
  • and more

Units of Measure:

  • Authorized User
  • Virtual Processor Core

Not used to determine the number of entitlements:

  • Data Server Clients
  • IBM Data Server Driver for JDBC and SQLJ
  • PureScale cluster caching facility (CF)

Prohibited Components among others:

  • If licensing under the Terabyte metric: pureScale clustering technology
  • Q Replication Functionality
  • and more

High Availability / Failover Configurations options:

  • Hot Standby
  • Idle / Warm Standby
  • Cold Standby

The complete LI Doc for IBM DB2 Standard Edition 11.5 can be found here.

Typically, you will be most interested to understand if a specific software component is required to be licensed separately or if it’s part of another IBM software license. Firstly, find to which Primary Program the Component is part of. Verify in ILMT’s software inventory if other programs exist on the same server, ask the owner of the system and use Google to find possible primary programs.

For example: ILMT detected the component “Universal Agent” and the automatic bundling rules bundled it to “IBM Spectrum Protect”. However, you have no license for “IBM Spectrum Protect”.

Once you have found the Primary Program and confirmed that the component is a Supporting Program, a combination of below sources is required to find the final decision if and how the component is charged:


The amount of contractual terms and conditions that you need to take into account as defined in your Passport Advantage Agreement, associated sub capacity terms and associated product and version specific license information documents should not be underestimated. Almost any end user will encounter challenges with controlling and managing its IBM license compliance position, due to the level of detail, knowledge and expertise required.

Statistics show that end users are recommended to outsource their IBM software license management activities. 

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There´s more

Would you like to understand more about our IBM Managed Service offering? Reach out to us.

There´s more

Would you like to understand more about our IBM Managed Service offering? Reach out to us.


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