Silver Bulletin

10+ Ways to License Spectrum Protect (TSM)

Posted by: Stephen Allison

We’ve talked about licensing on the blog before, but that was way back in 2013, so it’s about time we revisited it. Why are there 10+ ways to license Spectrum Protect and what are the benefits and pitfalls of each?


Spectrum Protect has evolved a long way from its roots, to what has been rebranded to Spectrum Protect and brought into the wider Spectrum brand or bundle of software defined offerings from IBM.

So let’s list the different ways to license Spectrum Protect:

  • Processor Value Unit (PVU)
  • Processor Value Unit (PVU) Sub Capacity
  • Capacity Bundle (backend)
  • Capacity Bundle (frontend)
  • Spectrum Suite
  • ASL Capacity backend
  • ASL Capacity frontend
  • Enterprise License Agreement (ELA)
  • Spectrum Protect Archive
  • Spectrum Protect for Protectier
  • Spectrum Protect Device License

There are simply too many to cover in detail here. The important thing is that each has positive and negatives dependent upon the characteristics of the environment in which they are deployed.

Clearing the complexity

Let’s try to demystify these and give some insight into them and when you might use them.

From experience I hear people complaining about Spectrum Protect as being complicated and too big a challenge to master. It’s not and it doesn’t have to be.

The best way to approach licensing is to start by asking a few questions:

Do I store a lot of data? Do I have a small number of servers or a large number? And one very important one. Am I using the features of Spectrum Protect that make life easier?

It boils down to this: a ratio between servers and capacity. If I have lots of data and only a few servers I need to license the server. If you have a small amount of data and a large amount of servers, you need to license the capacity.

That then steers you in the direction of one model or another. It’s a steer, but not the final destination.

Customers tell me that one of the biggest issues is compliance. IBM are auditing more and more and if you are using PVU’s, tracking, controlling and governance is not simple. I’ve lost count of the number of customers’ who upgrade their server estate and forget about buying more software to cover the new, bigger, faster processors. Customers’ deploy VMware clusters and get caught out by spiralling PVU counts. Customers’ who forget to install ILMT and if you don’t know what ILMT is, it’s painful.

For some, even if PVU’s are cheaper, they still convert to a capacity model to do away with the management overhead.

When you are on a capacity model you need to think in a different way. It’s easy, it’s great but now you have a new set of concerns. You no longer care about software deployment, you are entitled to install and use every Spectrum Protect tool, as detailed here. You can install wherever and whenever you want without the need to track servers or how many cores of what type is in every server. And no more ILMT. The only thing you care about is that all important number of TB in the Primary Pool: simple.

Oh and data growth!

You can manage this effectively. Things to think about are

  • Am I using dedupe?
  • Have I switched on compression?
  • Have I cleaned house and removed all the stuff I don’t need?
  • Can I put more data on disk?
  • With access to all the TDP’s have I setup incremental’s on VMWare?

As a business partner who has deployed container pools and tracked the result via our management and automation solution, Predatar, we see an average of 4:1 data reduction. It is possible to get even better reductions, but each account is different and we want to set expectations correctly. The key point here is that Spectrum Protect is licensed post the data reduction. This can flip the PVU vs Backend Capacity model debate firmly in the favour of a capacity model.

It’s fair to say that I favour capacity models over PVU.

Now I have nailed my flag to the mast it’s worth focusing on two of the most common capacity models: IBM’s Suite for Unified Recovery (SUR) Backend Capacity and ASL.

The first thing to be clear about is that the software code is exactly the same. These are two different ways to access the same software.

What is the difference? The quick answer is that ASL is Opex and SUR is Capex. One is via IBM PA and one is via an IBM Business Partner.

Do you want to rent or to buy?

Buying is nice, we are all used to this, but buying IBM software isn’t a one off fee. Although you buy the software once, after the initial (normally) three-year period, every year IBM asks you to pay for support on the software. This enables you to keep up to date with the software and access support, if you need.

What if the cost of that software support was the same cost as the ASL rental? In my experience the ASL rental can be cheaper. You avoid the upfront Capex expenditure and get the same product for less that the annual IBM PA renewal.

Why is this the case? You are buying ASL at the Business Partners price banding not yours and the majority of cases the Business Partner has a better banding – because they’re buying larger volumes for multiple customers.

ASL was designed to enable Business Partners to ‘aaS’ solutions. This means that you need to buy additional support offerings from the business partner. This doesn’t have to mean cloud or a managed service. My customers just need to use Predatar, or buy a number of Service Units.

Even with this element, I have written a good few business cases that show a customer can get a Fully Managed Service to proactively manage their estate and all the ASL software AND do so for less than the annual IBM PA Renewal and projected new license spend.

So why isn’t everybody doing this?

I really believe more should. As more organisations adopt a pay as you go, or utility mindset, it will become more popular.

One of the reasons I see people not going for ASL is a sense of being locked into a particular Business Partner. That is considered a risk and one that outweighs the financial benefits. Another is that IBM sellers do not recommend it. As a cynic, the revenue is associated to the Business Partner not the end user, so does not go towards individual’s targets. IBM sellers do get paid on it, but they don’t all know that or know how to claim it. This is one of the reasons we’re running sessions with our IBM contacts to help them understand this better.

Adding up the licensing options

As I said at the start, every model has positives and negatives. Each option can be easily modelled with real numbers and one size does not fit all. There is no need for guess work.

What I always encourage my customers to do is review their options regularly. There are always ways to reduce software costs, the broader question is, are the benefits worth the cost of change?

If you want to review your Spectrum Protect licensing model, Silverstring have experts who can help you analyse your licensing and ensure you’re getting the best possible value from your business recovery platform. Don’t hesitate to email on or call to organise your initial free licensing review to see if you can save costs, or get better value from your existing implementation.

For an updated version of this licencing blog, please visit our latest post on this topic. It can be found here.

Posted by: Stephen Allison on January 27, 2017

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