Ten Ways to Reduce Your Mainframe Software Licensing Costs

What’s the single biggest cost you have as a Mainframe manager? Software licensing costs – the regular costs required to run software, and to get support if it breaks. This article gives ten ways to bring these costs down to earth.

Check you really need it.
Don’t laugh. This sounds obvious, but it’s only too easy for software that is no longer needed to slip through the cracks. For example, you may have some software that was originally needed for CICS applications that have since moved elsewhere.

You may also have software PR Software licensed for all z/OS images, but only used on one.

Check you really use it.
As your Mainframe workload changes over time, it’s only too easy for the use of a software product to quietly decline without Mainframe managers noticing. You may be paying thousands of dollars for a product that only a couple of people are actually using.

You need to regularly analyse the usage of your software, and schedule the removal of any software no longer needed.

Check you don’t have two products doing the same thing.
You may use all your software, but have two software products performing the same or similar function. You need to fully understanding your software inventory, and exactly how each product is used.

Investigate sub-capacity pricing.
Most software licensing charges are based on the size of each LPAR running that software – the MSU rating. You can find this value from the IBM website or a program to call IBM’s IWMQVS service.

A few years ago IBM introduced another option: Sub-Capacity Pricing. This is where your software licensing charges are based on your CPU usage, not on your LPAR size. So software running on a lesser-used LPAR will be cheaper. It also makes upgrades easier to justify as you don’t get hit by increased software charges with the larger processor.

IBM isn’t the only vendor offering Sub-Capacity Pricing. Other vendors such as BMC and CA are also jumping on the bandwagon.

Reorganise your LPARs.
Many sites now run at least one ‘capped’ LPAR, meaning that the CPU resources available to it are artificially capped using Workload Manager (WLM). Software that is charged on MSU rating is run in this capped LPAR, reducing costs.

Users of Sub-Capacity pricing may consider doing the opposite: consolidating LPARs. This reduces CPU consumption by reducing the overhead of running a z/OS image.

Investigate similar products.
Compare the price of competing products, and consider moving to cheaper ones. For example, SAS users may consider the SAS replacement product WPS by World Programming.

It’s true that in some cases moving to different products can be very difficult and expensive. However it isn’t necessarily so, and many vendors offer migration tools to ease this pain.

Tune your systems.
Tuning your systems reduces CPU usage (good for Sub-Capacity pricing users), and delays upgrades to larger processors.

Move off the Mainframe.
Mainframe CPU resources are expensive when compared with other platforms. So it may be worth considering migrating some of your workload. For example:

Software products such as Tachyon Assembler Workbench and Microfocus Mainframe Express allow you to perform Mainframe software development on Windows and UNIX platforms.
Some products such as Websphere Enterprise Service Bus and CICS Transaction Gateway daemon run on both z/OS and other platforms.

Some workloads may easily be moved to other platforms. SOA and related services now makes Mainframe services and data easier to access from other platforms.

Upgrade your Mainframe.
For the past couple of zSeries processor generations IBM has been providing a 10% MSU ‘discount’. In other words, a z10 processor will have an MSU rating that is around 10% lower than an equivalent z9 processor. This translates to software license cost savings.

Invest in Speciality Processors.
IBM now offers Speciality Processors such as the Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) and Application Assist Processor (zAAP). These special processors cannot do ‘normal’ work, but can be given specific work by normal Mainframe processors. This can improve the performance of Java applications and other subsystems such as DB2. But the interesting advantage is that the work done by these processors doesn’t count towards your CPU usage if you use Sub-Capacity Pricing.

Many new software products are also off-loading work onto these Speciality Processors, including software from BMC and CA.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that implementing any of these ten methods is a large project, and needs to be performed regularly. However you do have some tools to make this easier.

Usage Software. IBMs Tivoli License Compliance Manager (replacing Isogon SoftAudit for z/OS and Ubiquity Dorana) will automatically list all software installed, who uses it, and how often.
Security Software. Mainframe security software has facilities that can help you track software usage. For example, enabling RACF program control to log access to specific programs can tell you who is using a product, and how often.
IBM. IBM provide a free Sub-Capacity planning tool to help you plan for Sub Capacity licensing.
Software Vendors. Ask them for information about software products you already have, and alternatives they may have for your existing software.

Your Systems Programmer. You secret weapon in the fight against software licensing costs. Systems Programmers install and customise all your z/OS software, so they usually know what it does, and possibly who uses it. They can also setup monitoring to determine who is using which software and how often, and will be your scout when looking for alternative software products and freeware.

So there’s ten ways to reduce software licensing costs. Regularly committing time and resources to managing your software licenses will almost certainly pay big dividends to your Mainframe budget.

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