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Preparing for an IBM compliance audit of your Notes licences

IBM is a business enterprise and sells software licences for a living (For charity you need to ask a certain gentleman from Redmond). Sometimes there are disputes between IBM's customers and IBM how many licences are in use in a certain company. In the spirit of IBM's 3rd core value - Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships - IBM typically tries to sort this out in collaboration with the customer, but from time to time that escalates into a formal compliance check. It has been reported not to be a necessary pleasant experience since for legal reasons outside audit organisations are used who might not have been tuned into IBM's approach to relationships.
In Lotus land a potential sticky point is the question how many Notes Messaging CALs and how many Notes Enterprise CALs (formerly known as Notes Messaging Licence and Notes Collaboration Licence) are in use. The difference between the two licences in a nutshell: Messaging allows eMail, Discussion, Blog, Reference and Journal; Enterprise allows any database and the use of Domino Designer (Read the full details).
An audit will not accept statements like " yeah, the licences are stated as Enterprise for all, but only X percent actually use databases"
What you can/should do in preparation: add all users you think are messaging only users to a group (or a set of nested groups) and add this group to the ACLs of all databases that are not based on the IBM templates above with -No Access- level. This way you rapidly can figure out if there is any user requiring access to those applications (usually accompanied with a scream about IT messing things up).

Also be clear: IBM doesn't require an online activation, disables software when you alter the hardware or a patch failes or sneaks in controlware to check on your licence status.

And of course the way to smart collaboration is not to downsize your licenses, but to upsize your collaboration using some of the excellent free and commercial applications for Domino (Bonus track for customers in Thailand and Hong Kong: Check out Comware).

Disclaimer: This is not any legal advise or something you can cite in an argument, this are just my thoughts

Posted by on 23 November 2009 | Comments (3) | categories: IBM - Lotus Show-N-Tell Thursday


  1. posted by Henning Heinz on Tuesday 24 November 2009 AD:
    I keep asking myself how many companies that had one of those lovely audits would prefer online activation!? It also is not true, at least in Germany, that you only get audits if IBM does not agree with reported licenses (at least if you have a certain amount of seats). Geneerally speaking IBM licensing is (too) complicated. You compare it to Microsoft and say that IBM sucks less. I compare it to Google Apps and say both IBM and Microsoft fail. I personally never had a problem with Microsoft online activation but do miss an easy way to uninstall a license. Audits are a good way for generating short term revenues. Over a longer period I believe that it does more harm than it helps. By the way, if you do not officially license IBM software at all you will not get one of those lovely audits either.
  2. posted by Matt Buchanan on Tuesday 24 November 2009 AD:
    Will that ACL trick work? I thought ACL access was cumulative - so in this example, if a user is in 2 groups, one with Author access and one with No Access, they will end up with Author access.
  3. posted by Stephan H. Wissel on Tuesday 24 November 2009 AD:
    @Matt: When you are listed in 2 groups you get the access level with the higher priority. -No Access- has the highest priority, followed by Manager. Roles would be cumulative. Of course there are some caveats: Individual name listings trump group memberships and */Org trumps groups as well.

    @Henning: I doubt that a single one would, however I agree, that license tracking and updating needs to be easier.