Tivoli Storage Manager: Insights & Best Practices into IBM Licensing

May 2, 2017
Quincy Johnson


Quincy Johnson

Digital Marketing Specialist at SoftwareONE | Linkedin


Whenever a customer asks me how to license a certain IBM software, such as IBM’s backup solution – Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), I ask two questions in response:

1: “What is the exact software program name?”

This is due to the fact that within the current TSM v8.1 there are approx. 30 different TSM entitlement types and five different license metrics available in that name alone.

2: “Which version of the product do you use?”

This is because the licensing rules apply to a dedicated version, release, and FixPack level. IBM licensing is version agnostic and the licensing rules are subject to change with each and every version.

It’s also important to note that TSM was rebranded as Spectrum Protect in September 2015, but most customers still refer to the solution as TSM so for the purposes of this blog I will continue to refer to it as TSM.

So how is the Tivoli Storage Manager licensed?


One of the most widespread editions of TSM is the TSM Suite for Unified Recovery (TSM SUR). The suite is comprised of various TSM components including the Tivoli Data Protection (TDP) client for backup databases, mail, or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Always remember that pending a release of the dedicated version there may be different components included in the TSM Suite for Unified Recovery. The Suite is licensed on a capacity-based model based on backend Terabyte (TB), meaning you need to determine the size of your primary storage pool. From a software asset management (SAM) perspective this is the preferred licensing model as the compliance can be measured and maintained quite easily..

From a commercial perspective entitlements are packaged in so called Terabyte tiers with a gradually decreasing price, dictated by increasing data volumes.


A similar model is the TSM Suite Front End model that was introduced by IBM in 2014. Similar to the TSM TB backend model it is a suite consisting of several TSM server and client components, however, entitlements are needed for the amount of protected data at the source. Compared to the backend TB model it doesn’t matter how many copies are in the Primary Storage Pool – IBM only counts it once in/at the frontend.

However, you don’t always need to license an entire bundle of TSM products. For example, if you backup a small Domino environment with the TSM, it may make more sense to license dedicated TSM components on a basis.


It is very important to understand that within the PVU-licensing model you need to license both:

  • the managing server – the TSM server and the;
  • managed servers (for example your SQL database)

If we take a basic example of needing to back up your SQL database and several workstations then you will need the following entitlements:

  • For the TSM Server: TSM or TSM Extended Edition PVUs
    (Extended Edition is needed if you need more than 4 drives / 48 slots)
  • For your SQL database: TSM (EE) entitlements and TSM for DB entitlements
  • Workstations: TSM client entitlements

From a commercial perspective please consider that one TSM SKU includes 10 PVUs and not 1 PVU.

Further, if you license the TSM per PVU you will need to license the entire physical capacity of the server on which your TSM server and TSM client is running, per default. You can, of course, reduce licensing costs if you run the TSM in a virtualized environment, but only if you use the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) to measure the virtualized capacity. Although the IBM License Metric Tool has received bad press over the past several years I do agree that there is value to the ILMT. First, there are potential savings due to less entitlement needs, and there is also the possibility to track deployments in today’s dynamic IT environments. Lastly, putting the data collected by the tool into SAM is knowledge that ultimately leads to optimization of your IBM investments.


A within is the fact that customers are not aware of the additional TSM for Storage Area Network (SAN) entitlements that are needed within storage area networks. Customers need to realize that if they license the TSM via the Processor Value Unit they need a TSM for the SAN entitlement for each TSM server that is sharing a library and/or that performs Local Area Network (LAN) free operations. This is also true for all managed servers if the backup is done LAN free.


There are, of course, additional licensing options available – including but not limited to the TSM Entry Edition, licensed per managed server with dedicated restrictions, e.g. max. 2 TSM server are allowed, that is suitable for smaller environments. Call SoftwareONE and we will help you figure out the optimal IBM licensing model for your business needs.


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