Monday, August 18, 2008

Domino Licence Renewal Headaches (or the Disadvantages of Passport Advantage)

This is a short (and not entirely serious) post to have a quick whinge about the way IBM Lotus Domino licenses are renewed.

Techie Blindness
So, here I am a SysAdmin for my company wanting to login to IBM Passport Advantage to renew my licensing. As a SysAdmin, I'm happy to be shown C++ code, HTML, you name it - it's all good to me. It's only when non-computing financial terms are mentioned that my eyes start to glaze over.

License Reconciliation
One of the things that happens every year with our renewals is a process of reconciliation. First of all, I try to work out how many licenses of IBM's software I'm using and how many they think I'm using. This often means that I will want to add a license or two because although I try to anticipate growth (and buy additional licenses in readiness) the truth is that the business changes its mind so quickly that sometimes you install more than you've paid for.

Luckily, the extra software usually doesn't get installed until after I've already used up all my "safety planning" licenses. So, come September (renewal time for us) I usually haven't been flaunting copyright laws for very long.

So why does this matter?
Well, the whole renewal process takes a bit longer and a few more brain cells, than I'd like. I'd rather delay an implementation and keep my renewal dates the same than end up with two Domino products with different renewal dates. It just doesn't work for me.

Self Service
I'll admit upfront that I've never been much of a fan of passport advantage - it's just too fiddly for my liking but I figure that even if I can't just go in there, add a few licences and hopefully add some licenses of new products, like Quickr, I should at least be able to tell what IBM thinks I've got - without needing vendor assistance.

Not so...

Sure, when I get to the clients, it's great, I can see exactly how many Lotus Notes clients I have. Servers though... that's tricky. It's hard enough trying to remember the difference between Enterprise and Utility servers (and which one is used where in our organisation) without trying to figure out the whole processor value unit business.

There's a nice little button on the passport advantage screen that says "hide PVU Configuration". I liked the look of this and thought "wow, if I click this it might show me how many instances of the software I have - or at least it will hide those words which are making my eyes glaze over. Must click button.... arrgh..."

Anyway, I'm not sure what clicking that particular button did but it didn't make those numbers go away and it didn't make passport advantage simple enough to figure out on my own.

After a minute all that boring non-IT stuff started swirling and I felt myself losing consciousness. Luckily, I managed to click the [X] on the browser tab just as I slipped from my chair.

I guess there's still a place for the IBM business partners after all.


Lotus Evangelist said...

I got somoene that can help you out if you need it from preferred partners.

Graham Dodge said...

Gavin... Gavin... Gavin...

If only you'd come to me earlier then all of these tears might have been avoided. Let Uncle Graham fix it for you.

BTW: You should stand by for an email from every Australian Business Partner (and a few international ones) offering to do the Passport Advantage paperwork for you providing you put them down as the Partner who is $elling you the licences.

Gavin Bollard said...

My point is that I'm happy to use the partners for development etc, but I really don't see why I should have to go through any partners just to do a little shopping.

It's like going to the shop to buy milk knowing that you've already pre-drunk some (and have to pay for it) but not knowing if it's skim, lite, full cream, soya or one of those weird ones in-between and how much you drank.

You ask the shop which one you had and how much because you know they've kept records and they say you had the lite milk and consumed 279 rels.

Because you don't know what a rel of milk is, you have to then contact someone else to negotiate with the shop for you - even though you could have bought it yourself if they spoke "english".

Eric Mack said...

I stopped selling Lotus Notes as a result with the passport disadvantage program.

I still recommend and influence a large number of sales each year - I believe in the future of Notes & Domino - but I felt that the complexity of the passport program was unfair to me or the client.

The only downside to my decision not to participate in the passport program as a reseller is that IBM has no idea who I am. It seems influence does not matter. If your name is not on the sales ticket or in their quota system you do not exist or merit contact. That's a missed opportunity, in my opinion.

I'll still recommend Notes & Domino and other IBM products everywhere I see an appropriate fit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gavin,

This is the main reason the Business Partners do reselling of licensing and renewals.


It is unrealistic to think that many of the clients could get across all the permutations of licensing models, and the latest changes, and any vendor promotions that could be leveraged.

Well worth having a chat to one...


Glenn Irvine