IBM Drives AIOps Into License Management
March 23, 2022 Alex Woodie
IBM last week announced an expansion of its partnership with Flexera that will see IBM’s AIOps solutions integrated with Flexera’s software asset management software. The integration will give customers more insight into customers’ software licensing and SaaS subscription entitlements, from the cloud all the way to Power servers and mainframes, IBM says.
The new integration specially targets IBM’s Turbonomic application resource management (ARM) software and the Flexera One offering from Flexera. According to Dinesh Nirmal, general manager of IBM Automation, the integration will close the gap that existed between what software and SaaS solutions customers are entitled to run, which is provided by Flexera’s asset management software, and what they actually use, which is information provided by Turbonomic’s observability software.
“Flexera gives you a complete view of your software and software assets and it gives you a management capabilities of that software, visualization, the past — all those things,” Nirmal tells IT Jungle. “But there is a completely different aspect where you need observability to figure out how your application is using that software. Let’s say you have 10 Oracle licenses. Is your application using all 10 Oracle licenses, or they’re only using five? So that correlation of application and software license management becomes very critical . . . . That’s what we can bring with observability.”
Trying to match a customers’ actual application usage with their license entitlements today is primarily a manual effort, Nirmal says. The volume of applications customers use today, the lack of control in the IT department, and the wide variety of usage patterns — i.e., on prem, in the cloud, hybrid deployments, using VMs, using containers, etc. — combine to make the task of determining compliance exceedingly difficult, he says.
“The complexity of managing software licenses and correlating with your application and optimization is not that easy. If anything, it’s practically impossible,” Nirmal says. “So you need some level of automation and machines to come in to say ‘This is how you can optimize it, this is how we can help you with compliance, this is how we can help you with resource management with your licenses.’ Otherwise it’s really hard to do it.”
The advent of abstraction layers like virtual machines and containers and container orchestration systems, like Docker and Kubernetes, respectively, only magnifies the difficulty, Nirmal says.
“The software companies are trying to manage it and figure it out, and that’s why I said that compliance and the complexity only increases as these applications run between a hybrid model of VMs and containers,” the IBM GM continues. “Nobody has moved completely to containers and nobody is still sitting just on VMs. So it’s a totally hybrid view and how do you manage that hybrid view successfully so that your enterprise can manage both VMs and containers?”
Making matters worse (er, better), many companies are looking to further tear down the old IT monoliths by breaking up their applications into individual microservices that run in containers, giving users the ability to spin them up and down and update them on an individual basis. This is the consensus view of the future of modern IT at this particular point in the game, and is the direction that many in IBM i-land are taking. But it does raise a whole host of other issues, including the thorny issue of license management.
“It’s a truly hybrid computing model and it will take some time for customers and software vendors to completely adopt the new model,” Nirmal says. “Unless you have taken your application and completely rewritten it for microservices–where we can completely track every single application services that’s running as a microservice on top of the container on the pod–[but] I don’t think many software companies are there completely yet. Even if you look at the public cloud, public cloud is 10, 15, 20 years old, so they also are running on VMs for the most part. They haven’t moved into the total container space.”
IBM supports the ability to gather data application usage data from PowerVM running on Power, as usage data from applications running on IBM Z, Nirmal says.
“i, p customers, Z customers — they all have a wide variety of software that’s running, so it becomes very critical being able to peek into your complete infrastructure and be able to understand how things are working and how things are managed,” he says. “Whether it’s the i customer, p customer, Z customer from an IBM landscape or a x customer, they all need to see how things are working and very critical tool for them to do that.”
IBM acquired Turbonomic in early 2021 for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was designed to complements its earlier acquisition of Instana for IT observability.