Sub-capacity licensing lets you license an eligible software product for less than the full capacity of your server or group of servers.

Sub-capacity Overview

Sub-capacity licensing lets you license an eligible software product for less than the full capacity of your server or group of servers. It provides the licensing granularity needed to leverage various multi-core chip and virtualization technologies.

The sub-capacity software licensing terms are documented in the International Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express Agreements (IPAA).

A summary of sub-capacity licensing requirements follows.

Sub-capacity Requirements*

*Visit Container Licensing for Information about eligibility and reporting requirements for container licensing.

Customers who obtain eligible sub-capacity products for use in an eligible virtualization environment must obtain entitlements sufficient to cover all activated processor cores* made available to or managed by the Program, as defined according to the Virtualization Capacity License Counting Rules and

Note: ILMT Lite configuration deployment with ILMT Disconnected Scanner is pre-approved when number of target VMs/LPARs in scope of virtualization capacity is less than 500.

In lieu of ILMT, approved validated tools are

  • HCL BigFix Inventory versions / releases / updates
  • Flexera One with IBM Observability IT Asset Management and Flexera One IT Asset Management

* An Activated processor core is a processor core that is available for use in a physical or virtual server, regardless of whether the capacity of the processor core can be or is limited through virtualization technologies, operating system commands, BIOS settings, or similar restrictions.


Eligible Sub-Capacity Products & Technologies

Products priced on a per-core metrics listed below are supported for sub-capacity pricing and shown in the left column. IBM License Metric Tool requirements for each metric are listed to the right.

Metric* ILMT Mandatory**
Processor Value Unit (PVU) Yes
Resource Value Unit:
Managed Activated Processor Core (RVU MAPC)
Virtual Processor Core (VPC) Yes
(See VPC Policy Change below.)

Updated 10 May 2022

*For PVU, RVU and VPC metric definitions, please go to Commonly used license metrics.

**IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) supports license tracking for the “Install” metric out-of-the-box as well as for various other metrics on a program-by-program basis.

Virtual Appliances (such as OVA booted from VMware ESXi) are supported using sub-capacity licensing. All compute must be charged using sub-capacity counting rules. These environments must use eligible operating systems and virtualization technologies as well as approved tooling (e.g., ILMT) as per standard sub-capacity requirements. Support of ILMT scanners are on a product-by-product basis. Check your product documentation or with your IBM representative to ensure your Virtual Appliances are compatible.

VPC Policy Update

With the release of IBM Passport Advantage v11, for all new customers as of February 1, 2023 and existing customers as of May 1, 2023, sub-capacity reporting policies that previously only applied to eligible products deployed on PVU and RVU metrics now apply to those deployed on the VPC metric. See Section 10: Full Capacity and Virtualization Requirements of the agreement for more information on these reporting requirements.

Expand section to see historical updates to VPC Policy

VPC Polity Update Prior Notice: July 13, 2022

Effective May 10, 2022, IBM now requires all Virtual Processor Core (VPC) software licenses utilizing Sub-Capacity licensing to deploy the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) or other approved validated tools. Manual capacity counting will no longer be permitted.

Container Licensing terms are not included in this policy change.

Required Customer Action

For Sub-Capacity usage of software utilizing the Virtual Processor Core (VPC) metric, Client agrees to 1) install and configure the most current version of IBM's License Metric Tool (ILMT) or other approved validated tool within 90 days of publication of this letter (and no later than January 1, 2023) and/or Client's first Sub-Capacity-based VPC Product deployment, 2) to promptly install any updates to ILMT that are made available, and 3) to collect deployment data for each such EP (Eligible Product).

ILMT (or another IBM-approved tool) must be installed for all Sub-Capacity products. (No longer valid: See Policy Update for February 2023).

Failure to comply with the above will result in charging under full capacity for the total number of physical processor cores activated and available for use on the server.

If you have questions about what this means for your software deployments, please contact your IBM representative.

Ineligible Sub-Capacity Products

The Parts listed below are ineligible for sub-capacity licensing:

Part #s (Lic., Spt., Reinst.) PID# Description
D571FLL, E02DTLL, D571GLL 5724A39 WebSphere MQ for HP NonStop Server
D564PLL, E0287LL, D564QLL 5724A38 WebSphere MQ for HP OpenVMS

What happens when OS or virtualization technologies are no longer supported?

When an operating system (OS) or virtualization technology approaches "End of Support"/"End Of Life", IBM announces plans to remove it from the list of sub-capacity eligible technologies as well as from ILMT support.

Typically, this happens 180 days after the end of support announced by the technology vendor.

All such plans and actual technology removals are announced in the Schedule of removing items from the list of sub-capacity eligible technologies Tech Note. In order to be notified of the latest plans of removal of virtualization technologies and operating systems from the list of sub-capacity eligibility, customers need to subscribe to My Notifications for ILMT product.

Additionally, technologies being removed from ILMT support are announced with each ILMT release.

Requirements to continue using virtualization technologies that are no longer supported are outlined in Passport Advantage Agreement v11 - Section 10.2.e: Client's Reporting Responsibilities. These include submitting a migration plan, continuing to maintain the supported version of ILMT, and generating reports. See the IPPA for more information.

Virtualization Capacity License Counting Rules

Generally, for any Eligible Product installed in an Eligible Virtualization Environment, you may license to the lower of:

  • The maximum number of virtual cores in the virtual machines (VMs) available to the Eligible Product at any given time or
  • The physical capacity of the Server where the VMs are hosted when the Virtual Capacity exceeds total physical capacity of the server

The total number of cores would then be applied to any conversion ratio:

  • For PVUs: You can determine the correct number of PVUs per core by referring to the PVU table
  • For VPCs: 1 VPC equals 1 virtual CPU (vCPU)
  • For RVUs: Use the License Information document of the Principal Program to determine the number of RVUs required to license the number of processor cores available to that Principal Program. All License Information documents are available on the IBM Terms website

SMT/hyperthreading ratios are not adjusted for with sub-capacity licensing. When the total number of virtual cores reaches the physical capacity, no additional cores are counted.

The materials below contain the Virtualization Capacity License Counting Rules and counting scenarios, which are intended to assist you in determining the correct number of cores required to be licensed. These rules are applicable for servers located within the same ILMT Region. ILMT Regions are based on global continents and are defined as follows.

ILMT Regions:

  • Region 1: North America & South America
  • Region 2: Europe & Africa
  • Region 3: Asia & Australia

License Counting Scenarios:

PVU Calculator

Use the Processor Value Unit calculator to determine required number of PVUs based on your environment. Please fill-in the required fields for each server configuration and enter your processor core quantity(s) to calculate "Total value Units"