IT Management

z/VM Licensing and Pricing

2 Pages

“Virtualization” is the IT industry’s hot new buzzword, and with it comes increased interest in z/VM, IBM’s leading virtualization technology for System z. IBM has responded to this increased interest by enhancing and extending z/VM with new technologies and features, many of which make running Linux-based workloads on the mainframe easier and more cost-effective.

One of these new enhancements isn’t technical, however, but deals with the way IBM licenses and charges for z/VM. Starting with z/VM Version 4, IBM licenses z/VM under the terms and conditions of the IBM International Program License Agreement (IPLA). Under the IPLA, which is similar to the license agreements found on “shrink-wrapped” software packages, there’s now a one-time charge for z/VM and its optional, priced, features (i.e., DIRMAINT, RACF and the Performance Toolkit). Complete IPLA text appears at

IBM also offers an optional enhanced support package, Subscription and Support (S&S), which provides for annual maintenance, including telephone assistance and access to new updates, releases, and versions of z/VM without additional charges. While the S&S offering is optional, it’s highly recommended. S&S is the default and, if not wanted, must be explicitly declined when ordering z/VM Versions 4 and 5.

Based on U.S. pricing figures, the one-time charge for z/VM Release 4 was $45,000 per engine, regardless of engine type: standard or Integrated Linux Facility (IFL). Each additional engine licensed was $45,000. A z/VM V4 license for an eight-way System z server would then be 8 x $45,000 or $360,000, a  significant chunk of change. With the introduction of z/VM Version 5, however, the pricing structure has dramatically changed: z/VM is now licensed based on Value Units (VUs), which vary, depending on the number of engines being licensed to run z/VM V5. The more VUs licensed, the less expensive they become. Engine-based VU pricing of z/VM V5 is different from MSU-based VU pricing available on other IBM software products.

The Rules

IBM has defined a set of rules to follow when counting the total number of engines in a processor.

Rule 1: When ordering z/VM V5.2 (or optional features) to operate on any of the standard engines in a system, z/VM must be licensed for all the standard engines in the processor.

Rule 2: When ordering z/VM V5.2 (or the optional features) to operate on any of the Linux-only IFL engines in a system, z/VM must be licensed for all the IFL engines in the processor.

Rule 3: The number of engines can be aggregated across processors that are part of an enterprise for licensing purposes.

Rule 4: Standard engines and IFL engines, because of the different workloads they’re meant to address, can’t be combined in a Logical Partition (LPAR). An LPAR must have either all standard engines or all IFL engines. This segregation by engine type in LPARs ensures that the proper workloads are dispatched on the proper engines.

2 Pages