IBM Grants After License Amnesty For Software Maintenance
February 23, 2015 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Unless a Federal judge overturns* the deal, IBM is going to be granting amnesty to customers using Power Systems iron who have let their Software Maintenance, or SWMA in IBMspeak, lapse. This maintenance service is available for the systems software, compilers, middleware, and related core software that is used by IBM i or AIX shops, and there are a lot of customers who have falling off the SWMA wagon. IBM wants to get them back on.
In an announcement letter sent to business partners, the Power Systems division and the U.S. Technical Support Services unit of Global Services are jointly sponsoring the amnesty that will allow customers to get back on SWMA without having to pay the after license fee, or ALF. This fee is essentially a charge for back maintenance that gets customers current. According to the business partners that I have spoken to, the ALF charge is tacked on for every month a system software stack has been off SWMA, and the amount of the charge is roughly equal to one month of maintenance for that stack. IBM grants a 30-day grace period for SWMA if customers lapse by accident, but after those 30 days run out, the ALF charges kick in. It is not clear where the caps are on ALF charges, but IBM says it can be as high as two yearsâ€™ worth of maintenance to get current. The partners that we spoke to generally only work on P05 and P10 class machines, and they have never seen the ALF charges go above one year’s worth of SWMA.
According to the announcement letter, which is number CC1502-034 and which is not accessible without a password, this ALF amnesty program will run from February 16 through May 31, so customers who have let their SWMA lapse will have to act fast if they want to get current. Customers have to sign their contracts on or before May 31, so there will not be any extensions beyond that as far as we know.
There is a list of 50 different programs for Power Systems machines that are eligible for this after license fee amnesty program, including i5/OS, IBM i, and AIX operating systems. Many of the tools are aimed at high performance computing clusters, including parallel programming environments, compilers and such, but PowerSC management, PowerHA high availability clustering, and PowerVM hypervisors are also covered by the amnesty. The full list is here, with IBM ID numbers that are different from the license program product numbers I know and love:
In a letter to customers, IBM put some caveats on the deal that were not part of the announcement letter:
“Other terms, conditions and restrictions apply to this offer and IBM reserves the right to alter or withdraw it any time. This waiver is not applicable to all Power Systems software products. IBM’s proposals and price quotes expire in accordance with their terms. IBM reserves the right to assess the ALF in cases of lapsed coverage on any software products (including those subject to the one time waiver offer described here) in the future. Your acceptance of this offer serves as your confirmation that this offer does not conflict with any applicable law, regulation, or agency policy.”
As far as I know, this amnesty deal is only being offered in the United States, but it could be–and should be–worldwide. As best as I can figure, there are approximately 30,000 IBM i shops that are on SWMA, and the remaining 120,000 or so have let their maintenance lapse. This is a huge base of customers that should be encouraged to get current and keep current. The health of the IBM i community depends upon it, and IBM is to be commended for working with customers to help cushion the economic blow of getting current.
* Joke compliments of our resident chief propellerhead Doug Bidwell of DLB Associates. He’s here all week, don’t eat the fish.