Using FlexNet Manager Suite to replace ILMT

IT Asset Management version 2019 R1

This release of FlexNet Manager Suite brings sweeping improvements in IBM PVU license management, for those who have a license variation from IBM allowing you to use FlexNet Manager Suite for sub-capacity license calculations in place of ILMT (or other IBM tools) — we'll call this "PVU mode". (If you are not in this group, and either not using IBM PVU licenses at all, or using them but relying on results imported from ILMT, you are unaffected by these changes, and may skip the remainder of this topic.)

If you are in the group running FlexNet Manager Suite in PVU mode, be aware that the upgrade to 2019 R1 brings significant changes:
  1. In the brief hours between the upgrade and your next full compliance calculation (or license reconciliation), the results for IBM PVU licenses (including their compliance status) are not to be used. The change-over from old calculations to the new, nightly reassessment (described below) is only completed with that next reconciliation.
  2. If you have created custom business adapters for importing data with the Business Importer, and any adapters reference the PeakConsumed property of IBM PVU licenses, each affected business adapter needs redevelopment before it can run again. That property is no longer available, because of changes in peak calculation (see below).
  3. For correct consumption calculations, you will need to register your enterprise group locations within the three mandatory IBM regions, and make sure that each device consuming PVU points is 'owned' by the appropriate location.
    Tip: "Correct consumption" here means consumption shown within the three mandatory IBM regions. Meantime, until you complete these preparations, remaining unassigned consumption is shown in a fourth "Unknown region", for which peak consumption calculations are also run and the results included in any reports you archive for IBM. So while your results have not gone backwards, you have the opportunity to improve the structure and detail of your reports archived for any future audit.
  4. It's also valuable now to have a single IBM PVU license per product (or bundle), as below. This may mean some work to merge licenses if, for example, you have previously created separate licenses for each region (although these continue to function until you are ready to make improvements). Finally, IBM PVU license property sheets now look different.
In summary, here are the main changes for PVU mode. These notes will help you understand why the impacts are so far reaching:
  • There is now built-in support for the three IBM-defined regions where peak consumption must be separately calculated (the Americas, Europe/Africa, and Asia Pacific). The existing location type of enterprise group can now be mapped to one of the IBM regions, and as always, locations may be used to mark the Ownership of each inventory device that runs software licensed under IBM PVU. Thereafter, devices contribute only to the separately-calculated peak consumption for their allotted region. Reports also include a separate result for any devices consuming from the license that are not yet linked to an IBM region.
  • You can now set the cadence of your reporting to IBM (for example, once every 90 days from July 1st), and FlexNet Manager Suite automatically rolls over the reporting period to match your reporting cycle. Of course, the reworked IBM PVU License Consumption Report also allows adjusting the reporting period as required, such as for reporting on prior period(s). There's even a separate 'ignore before' setting for those switching to FlexNet inventory in the middle of a reporting period, so that you can use your ILMT reporting up to your switch-over date, and FlexNet results from that day forward. (You must use one or the other, and cannot combine both tools.)
  • Gone is the old method of recording a peak value as a simple high-water mark (and with it, the old manual override of the peak result). Also gone are the separate IBM PVU reconciliations every 30 minutes to update that high-water mark. Hardware and virtualization changes are still discovered on the 30-minute schedule required by IBM, and saved in inventory. From this release, each overnight full compliance calculation completely reworks the regional peak values for the period, with recent changes applied retroactively throughout the reporting period. This means that you can make appropriate corrections, and the entire reporting period is reworked as though all your settings had always been correct. Retroactive changes can include (among other things):
    • Assigning a device to the correct location, so that it is linked to the right IBM region; or linking locations to the appropriate IBM region, which may affect many inventory devices (child locations inherit the region setting of their parent, but you can override any region value as required)
    • Correcting hardware inventory for a device (for example, overriding the number of cores reported)
    • Overriding the current consumption for an inventory device, using the Consumption tab of the license properties (and it would be good to track why with a note on the license!)
    • Adding the FlexNet inventory agent to a device, which makes it eligible for sub-capacity calculations in FlexNet Manager Suite throughout the period (although, of course, it only starts accumulating history from the start of FlexNet inventory, any previous full capacity values are ignored throughout the period)
    • Recording an exemption for a device used only for testing and the like, either by exempting the device role or exempting the device directly on the Consumption tab of the license properties
    • Allocating a license to a particular inventory device
    • Any changes to the license use rights, points tables, or other relevant settings
    • Any changes to the number of distinct products linked to a license (for example, changing from a single product license to a multi-product license, reflecting a software bundle).
    The retrospective calculations also rely on all-new historical data saved from FlexNet inventory for PVU-related devices. This historical data covers hardware and software changes reported by the locally-installed FlexNet inventory agent. You can set how long historical data is retained, with the default being a rolling 180 days (typically two quarterly reporting cycles) – and of course, you should also be archiving your PVU consumption reports for the minimum two years that IBM requires. If you are using a cloud-based implementation in one of the Flexera-hosted instances, historical details of your PVU-related devices and installed software have been logged for you since the previous release, around October 1, 2018. For on-premises implementations, the same history tracking started immediately after you upgraded to release 2018 R2; or, if you skipped that release, it starts after you upgrade to 2019 R1.1.
  • With the need for historical data in compliance calculations comes the need to preserve historical records of decommissioned inventory devices. A new Archived status means the device acts in FlexNet Manager Suite as if it has been deleted, playing no further part in other license management; but its historical records remain available for retrospective PVU calculations covering the time before it was archived. There's also a new Archived inventory view where you can review all these devices. There are three ways for a device to be archived:
    • If, in PVU mode, a device that already has historical data disappears from all inventory sources, the normal automatic data cleanup now archives that device, rather than deleting it.
    • Similarly, if you delete an inventory connection that is the last source of imported inventory for a set of devices, then all those devices that are linked to asset records go into the Awaiting inventory state; ordinary devices that are neither linked to asset records nor linked to IBM PVU licenses are deleted; but those special, non-asset devices linked to IBM PVU licenses are Archived.
    • An operator can select the device in any listing of either discovered devices or inventory devices, and click Delete. Ordinary devices are deleted; but those with historical PVU data are instead archived.
    Once archived, a device is automatically deleted after its archive date is outside your data retention period (default: 180 days), because at that stage its historical data no longer impacts peak consumption calculations. This prevents old and irrelevant data from cluttering up your database.
  • To display all the regional results, the Compliance tab for IBM PVU licenses takes on a flexible new appearance tailored to your situation:
    • If you are not using FlexNet inventory for sub-capacity calculations, it looks pretty much like any other license compliance summary.
    • Once FlexNet Manager Suite has completed a full license reconciliation while in PVU mode, it shows the three regional consumption peaks, and the independent dates when these occurred.
    • If you have devices not yet assigned to any IBM regions, a separate sub-capacity result is shown for that set, both as a default report and as a kind of error bar against the regional results (since that extra number of consumed but unassigned points really belongs somewhere within the IBM regions).
    • If you also have inventory devices on the license that are ineligible for sub-capacity calculations (typically because they do not have the FlexNet inventory agent installed), additional full capacity results are also displayed for the three regions, with another line item possible for unassigned full-capacity devices (if any).
    • Finally, the total of all available rows is shown as the estimated exposure for PVU points consumed. As always, the same tab also shows the worldwide total of recorded purchases of license entitlements, together with the net surplus or deficit.
    • For comparison purposes, the current consumption (as at the most recent reconciliation) is also shown summarized for each region/group, so that line-by-line you can compare the current figure against the peak. (You can check current consumption from each device attached to this license in the Consumption tab.)
    Tip: Both sub-capacity peaks and current consumption figures are now scoped by the data access rights of the operator. For example, an operator permitted to see data from only certain locations sees the same peak dates, but for each date sees only the contributions to the peak from inventory devices owned in those same permitted locations. (Of course, those contributions in other regions may well be zero, if the operator does not have access to data from the appropriate locations.)
  • The Consumption tab for IBM PVU licenses also gets new features:
    • New columns in the column chooser can be added to the list of consuming devices, to show the IBM region, Device status, and Sub-capacity eligibility for each device.
    • The search for inventory devices to which to allocate license entitlements now also displays archived devices (in case you need to correct a historical allocation).
    • Archived devices that were previously attached to the license (before they were deleted) remain visible in the list of consuming devices; but since this tab displays current consumption, an archived device always shows zero points currently consumed, just as you expect.
  • You'll also like the revamped IBM PVU License Consumption report. As well as archiving standard reports for review by IBM, you can now customize the report for your own special investigations:
    • Report on any period
    • Filter to individual licenses
    • Check details for each of the IBM-defined regions
    • See the contributions both from devices eligible for sub-capacity calculations and those that must be calculated at full capacity (which means there's no need for a separate spreadsheet of full capacity devices, as you used to submit back in the ILMT-only days)
    • Identify not only the guest VMs contributing to peak values, but also their hosts; as well as the PVU-licensed software on those devices
    • Understand the full capacity of each host that may be capping the calculation of points consumed by the VMs on that host.

With consumption calculations spread across the three mandatory IBM regions, it's best practice to have just one IBM PVU license for each product (or bundle). This allows for correct calculation of peaks in each region, and the necessary summing operations to get your final consumption figure. One PVU specialization to be aware of is that, in the reconciliation process, the availability of unused entitlements is no longer a factor in prioritizing the choice of one license among many IBM PVU licenses for the same product(s). This is another reason that it's best to have just one PVU license per product set. If you have a strong reason to use multiple PVU licenses for the same product(s) – for example, your history of mergers and acquisitions results in separate billings from IBM – make wise use of either license Restrictions or allocations to scope each license appropriately.

One other corner case may cause a decrease in your PVU consumption at this release. If you have this unusual situation:
  • Device(s) attached to IBM PVU licenses have an Ignored status
  • Nevertheless, you have allocated those ignored devices to their PVU license
  • The allocation should force license consumption for normal devices (either because you chose a Permanent allocation on the Consumption tab of the license, or because you set Allocations consume license entitlements on the Use rights & rules tab of the relevant license)
then from release 2019 R1.1, IBM PVU licenses correctly honor the Ignored setting for the devices, and prevent them consuming. Since, in earlier releases, the allocation forced consumption from all devices, this correction reduces the consumption result by discounting any devices in this unusual situation. (For other license types, the best correction is to remove the allocation from ignored devices.)

Additional information

In this section:
  • Changed prerequisites
  • Configuration
  • Changed rules for [in]eligibility of devices for sub-capacity calculations.
The addition of historical PVU-related data to the compliance database may require scaling up the database requirements for some on-premises customers. On average, for each 10,000 devices in an enterprise, the increase in scale is likely to be as follows:
  • For compliance database data, the first year data requirements are 30 GB (up from 25 GB in previous releases), with no significant change in the growth per year thereafter
  • For compliance database logs, allow 25 GB per 10,000 devices (up from 20 GB in previous releases).
To configure PVU mode, you need to validate all of the following settings in FlexNet Manager Suite:
  • Set the Enable frequent hardware scanning for IBM PVU license calculations check box (navigate to Discovery & Inventory > Settings and scroll down to the IBM PVU scanning section). This is the basic setting that reflects IBM's grant of an amended International Passport Advantage Agreement allowing use of FlexNet inventory. This changed agreement requires checking hardware details every 30 minutes, although the FlexNet inventory agent only uploads a hardware inventory file when it finds changes made since the last check. Selecting this check box is what turns on the new-look Compliance tab — but remember you need a full compliance calculation to see any data in those new fields.
  • In the Rights on virtual machines and hosts section of the Use rights & rules tab of the license properties, select Use sub-capacity license calculations where available. Each IBM PVU license must be individually configured to allow sub-capacity calculations (no matter whether these are based on FlexNet inventory or results imported from ILMT).
  • As always, the last-mentioned setting exposes a check box Allow sub-capacity licensing for sources other than ... (the label on the check box changes, depending on whether ILMT or FlexNet Manager Suite is currently in play as the sub-capacity calculator). This check box should be kept clear, unless your customer has an extremely uncommon approval from IBM to use tools other than FlexNet inventory agent or ILMT for sub-capacity license calculations. When clear (as should almost always be the case), this is the setting that forces 'ineligible' computers to be counted at full capacity. If it does get set, then on the license Compliance tab, inventory devices from those other inventory sources are included in the sub-capacity results, and the full capacity section disappears for both peak and current consumption. Just don't set it, unless you have written authority from IBM to attach to the Documents tab of the license properties.
  • You can configure the reporting period and the data retention period in the IBM PVU sub-capacity calculation settings section of the Licensing tab of the System Settings page.

When these settings are in place, to be eligible for sub-capacity calculations each device must return FlexNet inventory from a current FlexNet inventory agent locally installed, as required in the amended IBM agreement. If a stand-alone device appears only in inventory from another source, it is ineligible for sub-capacity consumption, and is (normally) included as one of the full capacity contributions. An important new corner case is that, when there are multiple VMs on a single host all attached to the same IBM PVU license, and any one of those VMs is ineligible because it is missing a locally-installed FlexNet inventory agent, then all the peer VMs on the same host (and license) are also ineligible. If it happens that the host itself is also independently consuming from the same license, it is also ineligible, and calculated at full capacity. In summary, within each IBM PVU license, make sure that all VMs have their own locally-installed FlexNet inventory agent, because any one or more VMs on the same host missing the FlexNet inventory agent make the host and all its guest systems ineligible for sub-capacity calculations.

IT Asset Management (Cloud)