Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know!

Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know
Flexpoints and Cognos What You Need to Know
Written by Heather L. Cole, August 25th, 2022

Are you an IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics or SPSS client and purchased your IBM licensing as flexpoints?  If so, you must know there are changes to the flexpoint program!

What is an IBM Flexpoint?

Years ago, IBM introduced a new consumption model, called Flexpoints.  With Flexpoints, products within the platform are valued at a number of Flexpoints.  You could purchase packs of 1,000 Flexpoints to use across the products in the IBM Analytics portfolio according to your needs.  Because clients’ needs change over time, Flexpoints enable a flexible consumption model for Cognos, Planning Analytics and SPSS.  This allowed clients to deploy Flexpoints on specific products like Cognos initially, and then later change their user mix to leverage their points on other products like Planning Analytics/TM1.   (IBM Reference) 

The Challenge with Flexpoints

The challenge with flexpoints was that it was up to the client to ensure they were in compliance and that they weren’t accidently changing their user mix to use more flexpoints than they had licensing rights to.  Since flexpoints were sold in bundles of 1,000, but each different license type had a different value, this could leave clients either not utilizing all their flexpoints or going over their IBM licensing. 

Here’s an example of some of the Cognos Flexpoint values for your reference.

IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS ADMINISTRATOR - 18,810 Flexpoints
IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS EXPLORER - 3102 Flexpoints
IBM COGNOS ANALYTICS USER – 1661 Flexpoints

So, if you had 2 Admins, and 100 users, you would need 203,720 flexpoints. 

Our Thoughts

Candidly at Lodestar Solutions we were never a fan of IBM Flexpoints as we believed it opened the client up to potentially failing an audit.  The clients were rarely familiar with the number of points each license cost.

Recently, Lodestar discovered IBM is trying to move people off Flexpoints for Cognos. 

Update on Flexpoints

Last month an IBM Cognos client reached out to Lodestar Solutions to discuss having us help them with the upgrade of their Cognos system to the latest version.  As we do with all upgrades, we investigated their current IBM licensing so that we did not inadvertently upgrade them and put them out of compliance with IBM.  Also, to see if there was a more optimal IBM licensing option that could save them money.

When we pulled the Cognos client entitlements, we were surprised to see they owned flexpoints.  This caused us to investigate the current IBM licensing rules and point values for each Cognos license type the client was using.

Candidly, if was difficult to find someone in IBM that knew about flexpoints for Cognos.  But when we got to the Cognos Flexpoint expert, we were informed the client did not have access to download the current version of Cognos. 

What?  This meant the client was paying for support and would not be able to get on the latest version.  I almost fell off my chair. 

We were informed that the client would need to modify their IBM licensing to the regular on-premise licensing at time of renewal and then they would have access to the latest version.   Our challenge was that the client had just renewed their support with another what we call, “paper pushing” partner.   These are partners that just process renewals, they don’t discuss changing in IBM licensing, or new functionality with their clients.   

FYI, Lodestar has never been and never will be a paper pushing partner!  Every year at minimum we discuss changes in the software, and licensing with each client.  If you would like us to do this for you, email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

The Flexpoint Resolution

Clearly, we had an issue!  The client did not want to wait a full year to upgrade their Cognos system, and there was no way to undue the other partner’s mistake.  So, IBM to the rescue!  The IBM Flexpoint expert was fabulous to work with.  They proposed that IBM provide the client a Cognos Admin term license for one year at the cost of $.01.  This would allow them to download the latest version and get upgraded.

At Support Renewal Time

Next year when the client is up for renewal, Lodestar Solutions, will help move them off the outdated flexpoint licensing to the licensing mix that is optimal for their needs. 

Lessons to be Learned:

  1.  If you are on Flexpoints with IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Planning Analytics or SPSS licensing, you are at risk of not getting the latest software.  So, contact Lodestar Solutions and we will help you sort out your licensing.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.
  2. If you use a Paper Pushing Partner for Renewals, you might run into issues!  Boutique partners, that specialize in licensing knowledge, like Lodestar Solution can save you money and reduce your risk of failing an audit.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help.  Email Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

Year-End Values on IBM Analytics Licenses (Cognos, Planning Analytics)

Year-End IBM Analytics Licenses Deals
Written by Heather L. Cole on December 1st, 2021

Are you an IBM Analytics client that might need more licensing?  Well, it’s that time of year when software companies like IBM are scrambling to make or break their sales numbers.  What does that mean for you?  Year-End Values on IBM Analytics Licenses.

But like any good year-end sales promotion, you need to know where to shop and when to shop to get the best value!  So, Lodestar Solutions is going to gift you the knowledge of how to get the best value on your IBM Cognos or IBM Planning Analytics software.   

Year-End IBM Analytics Licenses Deals

Why Buy IBM Analytics Licenses for your Team?

 Before we share the secrets to when and where to buy your IBM Analytics licenses let’s talk about why you should buy them now.  Your organization has committed to becoming more analytically astute, haven’t they?  We want to empower people in all departments to leverage data wisely and efficiently.  But to do this they need the right tools! 

Stop Using Outdated Analytic Tools

Stop Using the Wrong Tools for Analytics

Too many organizations are still relying on outdated tools to handle their analytics, scenario modeling and budgeting.  Don’t get me wrong I love Excel, but if you want to get massive results and identify opportunities quickly, you need a more robust solution.  As I tell our clients, using Excel for scenario modeling is like mowing your yard with a weed whacker.

Talent will Quit if They Don’t Have the Right Tools for Their Job

But here’s the bigger concern!  The Great Resignation is real! (See our previous blog on Finances and The Great Resignation.) If you give your team subpar tools to accomplish their jobs, make them work long hours when updated tools like IBM Planning Analytics could cut their work time in half, they will quit.  That’s right, talented team members are no longer accepting work environments that don’t provide the right tools to efficiently do their jobs.

When to Buy IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Licenses 

I mentioned earlier that there are Year-End Values on IBM Analytics Licenses.  The reason is that IBM is a publicly traded company that must report earnings to Wall Street.  So, like almost every software company that has a fiscal year end of December they give special deals at the end of the year.  Additionally, for some clients they have a use it or lose it budget rule, so if you have extra funds you want to use them.  Finally, we anticipate that the cost of software for next year will be higher.  Isn’t everything more expensive?  Therefore, December is a fabulous month to buy software. 

However, don’t wait too long!  For IBM to approve a great discount, it must go through a few layers of approval and that takes time.  Additionally, December is a vacation and time off month for everyone.  So, if you wait too long to get the quote, your own purchasing people might not be around to issue the PO.

So, I recommend you identify the licensing you will need in early December and request a quote.  When you get the official quote, don’t waste time, generate the PO so you don’t get caught under a sea of out of office messages.

Where to Buy IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos Licenses 

IBM Partners Can Add More Value

IBM sells their licensing directly or through 3rd party software resellers like Lodestar Solutions.  Your natural instinct might be to go directly to IBM, thinking you will save money.  But this is not the case!  IBM authorized resellers can offer you the exact same price as IBM, but sometimes they throw in some extra services or goodies.  For example, clients that purchase licenses and renewals from Lodestar Solutions are invited to our private user group that is just for our clients where we share inside secrets on the technology and network with peers.  Additionally, we offer complimentary license reviews and quarterly client check in calls.

More importantly, Lodestar Solutions, focuses on putting you in the optimal licensing mix for your current and future needs.  This sometimes means changing your licensing model which can be a complex process that we specialize in. 

Take Action!

You know it’s the best time to buy IBM Analytics licenses!  You know where to buy them, Lodestar Solutions.  So, the next step to realize year-end values on IBM Analytics Licenses is to contact us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com or 813-415-2910 and let’s explore how you can give the gift of IBM Cognos Analytics to your team this year.

How to Negotiate the Best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing

How to Negotiate the best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing
How to Negotiate the best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing
Written by Heather L. Cole, September 9th 2021

Can you believe it’s September already?  A season of change with kids returning to school, fall colors arriving and time to get ready for the winter!  But do you know what else happens soon?  END OF QUARTER for IBM!  Yes, October 31st is the end of IBM’s quarter which also means, a fabulous time to purchase IBM Analytics licensing!  But I also think it’s time for a little refresher course on How to Negotiate the Best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing.

As many people acknowledge the best software negotiators are prepared!  Top software negotiators recognize that understanding the licensing options, timing and the hidden motivations and needs of the other side are all integral in getting the best price and building a fabulous relationship with your vendor.  So today Lodestar Solutions will share insights in to all these areas so you can become a better negotiator and get the best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing.

1. The End of Quarter is the best time to buy IBM Analytics Licensing

IBM is a publicly traded company and therefore they must provide quarterly earnings reports.  Why is this important?  Because when numbers are reported quarterly, software companies like IBM become very anxious to get deals done at the end of the quarter.  The result of the need for good quarterly numbers is that IBM and other software companies have created an environment where they will provide bigger discounts at the end of the quarter, so that they hit their numbers and smart buyers know this.

Frank DeSalvo of Gartner stated in a blog,  Quarter's End Bedevils Software Business“By delaying a contract signing until the end of a vendor's quarter, customers hope to get discounts as software companies scramble to book enough sales to meet their quarterly goals.  Companies can get 5 percent to 10 percent discounts on software at the end of a quarter from sales representatives eager or desperate to hit their quotas for the year.”

2. Be Careful Waiting Too Long

Timing is everything but you must be careful.  If you wait too long to ask for a quote and want to negotiate too close to the end of the quarter, you may run out of runway.  IBM Analytics sales team members need time to plead your case to help get you the best deal.  This can take time because the best deals require more levels of approval.  If you are just adding on a small number of IBM Analytics licenses to your existing licensing mix, the deal size may not be significant in IBM’s eyes.  So, I recommend you start talking to Lodestar Solutions, or IBM sales rep in mid-September to start the process.

3. Are you In the Optimized Licensing Mix?

The first question to answer is what quantity and type of IBM Analytics licenses you need?  On the surface this seems like an easy question, but the best software negotiators do their homework.  They research if the software vendor has updated their licensing models and offer new bundles of software.  Over the years IBM Analytics licensing options have changed many times.  So, if you originally purchased IBM Analytic software 10 year ago, there might be a better licensing mix.  Or maybe you want to explore a cloud option.  To start learning about various options check out our blogs.  

What the Heck Do I Own?

Lodestar Solutions provides a free licensing mix consultation to organizations looking to evaluate their IBM Analytics Licensing.  We call our program, “What the Heck Do I Own?”  It only takes about 90 minutes, and we will explain what you own, discuss new functionality you own, and make recommendations if you would benefit from moving to a different licensing model.  We will also inform you if we see anything that could be a red flag for IBM auditors.  We share some of the information in our blog: What to know before IBM Audits Your IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Licenses

For details on a complimentary, What the Heck Do I Own? session email Sales@lodestarsolutions.com.

What the Heck Do I Own - IBM Analytics Licensing

4. Become and IBM Advocate for Greater Savings

Here’s a little secret… IBM and other software companies are always looking for great references and clients willing to be advocates for IBM Analytics.  IBM advocates are people that will provide their customer story, speak at events, take peer-to-peer calls, be a reference in proposals and participate in discussion with analysts like Gartner.  Being an advocate can help you secure even greater savings on IBM Analytic purchases.  At Lodestar Solutions, when we ask for a special discount for our clients, we always include information on how they are IBM advocates to help them maximize their savings.

Want to learn how you can become an IBM Advocate?  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and watch our YouTube video on Testimonials

5. Showing Growth and Competition

The final point you want to communicate to negotiate the best deal is to show that your organization will grow their footprint of IBM products.  IBM loves clients expanding their use of Cognos Analytics, Planning Analytics, SPSS…  By buying licenses every 6 months or annually you can show growth.  But you also could benefit for communicating that you evaluated the competition.  Today most companies have 2-3 business intelligence tools.  So, if you can say something like, “our marketing team uses Power BI which we evaluated but determined that the latest version of Cognos Analytics provides the full breath of reporting the organization requires.”  This can also help secure discounts.  When you combine that IBM Analytics beat the competition with becoming an IBM Advocate it’s like a one two punch.

Time to Take Action

You now have some of the secrets on How to Negotiate the Best deal on IBM Analytics Licensing.  But for you overachievers you might want to check out my Negotiation video where I share the negotiation tips I share with top CFO’s, Heatherized Negotiation Skills.  Now, it is time to act.  Knowledge doesn’t create results, ACTION does.  So, take one simple step, and email us today to set up your complimentary consultation on your licensing.  Sales@lodestarsolutions.com

Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About an IBM Audit (Part 2)

Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
Four More Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
March 26th, 2021

If you use IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics you are subject to an IBM audit. You might not have realized when you purchased your Cognos you agreed to the terms of the IBM International Program Licensing Agreement.

You were agreeing to allow IBM to Audit your Cognos and Planning Analytics software usage.  Last week we shared Six Things Every Cognos and Planning Analytics Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits.  This week here are four more things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about an IBM audit.

1. IBM requires many Cognos and Planning Analytics clients to order and install a tool to monitor core processing usage (ILMT Tool).

If you have Cognos Analytics or Planning Analytics in a virtualized environment and your licensing includes Processor Value Unit licensing (PVU) you will be required to install the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).

Over the years IBM changed their agreement and introduced the requirement to install their IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).  This happened when more clients moved to virtualized environments.  And if you think about it, it makes sense.  In a virtualized environment it is easy to allocate more cores to your environment to increase performance.  Since the PVU licensing is by core, IBM needed a way to monitor the core usage to ensure people who had PVU licensing were not exceeding their licensing.

See our earlier blog ILMT Tool Questions and Answers for more details on the ILMT.

What’s the Penalty?

If you have virtualized your Cognos environment and are only using a fraction of the cores for your Cognos or Planning Analytics solutions, then you fall under IBM’s sub capacity rules.  The IBM contract language states that if you do not install the ILMT then IBM reserves the right to charge you the full capacity of your environment.  That can be HUGE!

Lodestar Solutions has seen well intending IT professionals increase the cores used for Cognos and Planning Analytics only to cause the organization to fail an IBM audit.

Candidly IBM did not do a good job of informing Cognos and Planning Analytic clients of this new requirement, but it the client’s responsibility to ensure they do not accidentally become out of compliance.  Ignorance of the rules is not a defense.

How Do I Know If I Have the ILMT Installed?

First look at your Proof of Entitlements and see if you have the ILMT listed as a part you own.  If it’s not on your entitlements, you would not be able to download it.  If it is listed, then check with your IT team to see if it was actually installed and if they are downloading the reports at least every 90 days.

Lack of having the ILMT tool installed is a primary cause of audit failure.

2. Upgrading Your Cognos or Planning Analytics environment could affect your Cognos licensing needs.

When you upgrade your Cognos or Planning Analytics environment it is recommended to put the new environment on new hardware.  This could result in the PVU rating of your machines to increase from a 70 rated machine to a 100 PVU rated machine.  (To see the latest machine ratings from IBM check out Processor Value Units)

If this happens you will need more PVU licensing to have the same number of cores assigned to our Cognos system. 

Additionally, clients moving from older TM1 or BI versions to the latest may find that they need additional cores assigned to the new Cognos environment.  Remember if you are on the PVU licensing and you allocate more core processing power, you will need to buy additional IBM Cognos licensing.

Lodestar Solutions fully appreciates how confusing the PVU licensing can be.  Here is an earlier blog on What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU?  Just know you don’t have to figure this out alone. Lodestar is here to help.

Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we would be happy to share our PVU calculation tool so that you can ensure you are not overusing and subject to failing an IBM audit.

3. Many clients are in an outdated licensing model which may result in paying more than you should for IBM support.

Over the years IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics licensing has changed many times.  Some clients purchased their licensing many years ago but have not updated their licensing.  As a result, they could be paying more than they should for their Cognos or Planning Analytics system. 

Cognos Express Licensing

Lodestar Solutions has helped many clients that have smaller deployments under 100 users move into the Cognos Express and Planning Analytics Express licensing model which is designed for mid-market clients and smaller deployments. The Express licensing is the same software just a different licensing.

Moving Cognos Analytics clients from Authorized Users to Processor Value Unit Licensing

For other Cognos Analytics clients who had a lot of casual Cognos users and owned authorized user licensing, Lodestar moved them to a PVU licensing.  The PVU licensing model for these clients saved the Cognos client significant support dollars and allowed them to add more users at no additional cost.  Typically, this is an option to be explored when a Cognos Analytics client has over 500 Cognos authorized users. 

Moving Planning Analytics clients from server plus user licensing to PA Advanced

The majority of IBM Planning Analytic clients are on a server plus user licensing model.  This model does require PVU licensing for production and non-production along with individual user licenses.  A few years back, IBM introduced a new license called the Planning Analytics Advanced licensing that has two flavors; PVU based, or Users based.  This is a fabulous and more simplified licensing that Lodestar recommends all Planning Analytic clients evaluate.  The best time to migrate your licenses is at renewal time.

If you want to discover what your licensing option are, Lodestar Solutions is here to help.  Email us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to set up a free Cognos licensing consultation.

4. Cognos clients cannot maintain support on a portion of the authorized users installed and in service.  It is all or nothing.

Cognos and Planning Analytics clients that want to decrease their user counts can do so, but there may be a hidden penalty.  If you are currently paying below IBM list price for your Cognos or Planning Analytics support, and you want to decrease your user counts, you may see a greater uplift on the ones you keep.  This is because you are no longer qualifying for the same IBM volume discount.

The second thing to know is that if you decrease the number of users you are paying to support, you MUST delete the unsupported users from your system.  You are not allowed to pay for support on a portion of your licenses and keep using all your original licenses. 

For example:  If you owned 2 Cognos Administrators and 100 Cognos Analytic users but at renewal time you wanted only to renew 1 Cognos Admin and 50 users, you must remove the 1 admin and 50 users you discontinued support on.

It’s important to know that if you have on-premise, perpetual licensing, it is an asset.  And you have a legal right to use your Cognos licenses indefinitely without support.  Although Lodestar does not advise that.  However, IBM does not allow you to try to cheat the system and pay support only on a fraction of your licenses and use all the licenses originally purchased.

Lodestar’s recommendation is to always keep your Cognos and Planning Analytics users under IBM’s support and maintenance program.  This ensures that if 3rd party software sends an update that breaks connections to your Cognos, you will be able to get the fix pack.

Summary

We realized our list of ten things every Cognos client needs to know about IBM audits may have just created more questions.  Oh, if you missed the first 6 things you need to know about an IBM Audit, click here to see our earlier blog.  

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you answer all your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytic licensing and IBM support questions.  But you should also check out our recent webinar on How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.  This is now available on our Lodestar Solutions YouTube channel.  You might want to subscribe to our Lodestar Solutions YouTube Channel   while you are there.

Call Lodestar

For your complimentary What the Heck Do I Own Cognos Consultation and to ask questions you may have, reach out to Sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910. We are here to show you a better way.

Six Things Every Cognos Client Needs to Know About an IBM Audit (Part 1)

Six Things Every Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
Six Things Every Client Needs to Know About IBM Audits
March 19th, 2021

If you use IBM Cognos or Planning Analytics you are subject to an IBM audit.  You might not have realized when you purchased your Cognos you agreed to the terms of the IBM International Program Licensing Agreement.  You were agreeing to allow IBM to Audit your software usage.  Here are six things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about IBM audits.

1. Any Cognos client can get audited, even small deployments.

Just because you have a smaller deployment does not mean IBM will not audit you.  Lodestar Solutions has had Cognos clients with less than 20 users subject to an IBM audit.  IBM hires an outside firm to handle their audits and to the best of our knowledge they appear to be random.

2. IBM does not warn you when you are using too many Cognos licenses.

Neither IBM Cognos nor Planning Analytics have license keys.  Therefore, there is no warning when you set up too many users or when you add core processing power to your Cognos virtualized environment and accidentally exceed the Cognos licensing you own.  It is the responsibility of you as the client to ensure you do not exceed what you own.  Note that SPSS licensing does have keys, so it helps to maintain your users within your Cognos licensing. (See our blog for more information on IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options SPSS).

3. IBM uses outside firms for Cognos audits, and they do not care that you have been a client for decades.

Many clients have the false belief that since they have been a client for decades that if they were audited IBM would be lenient on them.  This is not true!  IBM uses outside firms to handle their Cognos and Planning Analytics audits and their job is to discover when a client is using more Cognos licensing than they own. 

Think of it this way.  If you went to the farmers market and purchased 3 watermelon, but when you were loading your car you put 6 watermelon in your trunk, would you have stolen 3 watermelon?  Software is the same way.  Whether you intended to exceed your licensing or whether you did it unknowingly, you still are stealing in IBM’s mind.

It’s important to know that typically when clients fail an IBM audit, IBM charges them full list price for software they are using for which they don’t own Cognos or Planning Analytic licenses.  Sometimes, IBM also charges the client back support on the Cognos software licensing that was not owned but used at the time of the audit.  So, no they are not lenient on Cognos clients that have used the software for years.

4. You must purchase licenses for your Cognos and Planning Analytic consultants.

Many clients do not realize that the IBM Cognos licensing requires a license for every user that accesses, or logs into their system.  This includes consultants, even IBM consultants.  If you hire a freelancer or a firm like Lodestar Solutions to help you with your implementation you typically will need an Administrator or Modeler license for your consultant.  For more information on this see Lodestar’s earlier blog, What to know before IBM Audits Your IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics Licenses.

5. Most non-production environments need to have licenses, they are not free.

A common misperception by Cognos clients is that you only need licensing for your production environment and that the non-production or test environment for Cognos or Planning analytics does not count.  This is NOT true! 

Many clients have licensing that require additional licenses for their non-production environments.  If you own IBM Express or IBM Planning Analytics or Cognos Analytics licensing with PVU licensing, you will most likely need a non-production environment.  The exception to this is the Planning Analytics Advanced PVU licensing.

If you are unsure, reach out to Lodestar at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and we will answer your specific Cognos Licensing questions. 

6. If you do not pay support, they can still audit you.

If your organization has decided to move in another direction and you did not renew your Cognos support, but you are still using the Cognos or Planning Analytics software while you migrate, do not think that prevents you from being audited.  IBM can still audit you!  They will look at is the quantity and type of licenses that you purchased support on the last time you renewed your support.  They will then audit your licensing and look to see that you are not using more licenses than you last renewed. 

Example:  You once owed 2 Cognos BI Administrators and 100 Cognos Analytic Users.  Your company was bought out and you are moving to Power BI.  So last year you renewed only 2 Cognos administrators and 20 Cognos Analytic Users with the plan to end support on them when you fully migrate all your reports.  IBM sends you an IBM audit letter and during the audit they determine that you still had 50 Cognos Analytic Users and 2 Cognos Administrators in your Cognos system.  You will fail the audit and IBM will send you a bill for the 30 users you did not renew support on.

Keep Your Cognos Licenses Supported

Lodestar’s recommendation is to always keep your users supported with IBM support.  This ensures that if 3rd party software sends an update that breaks connections to your Cognos, you will be able to get the fix pack.  There are several other reasons we recommend renewing your Cognos licenses.  See our blog Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support for more information.

IBM Audit Summary

We realize our list of six things every Cognos and Planning Analytics client needs to know about IBM audits may have just created more questions.  In fact, look for our next blog where we share even more information you should know before an IBM audit on your Cognos licensing. 

You are not alone!  Lodestar Solutions is here to help you answer all your licensing and IBM support questions.  We recently hosted a webinar on How to Avoid Failing an IBM Analytics Audit.  Which is now available on our youtube channel and provides a lot more details and client case studies.

Don't Wait!

Don’t wait until you get an IBM audit letter.  Learn what you need to know before you get audited.  Act now.  Contact Lodestar for your complimentary What the Heck Do I Own Cognos Consultation.  During our meeting you can ask the questions you are too afraid to ask IBM. 

Contact us today at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com or call 813-415-2910.  We are here to show you a better way!

When IBM Partners Work Together the Clients Win

Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
Benefits of an IBM Teaming Agreement
January 14th, 2021

IBM Teaming Agreement Program allows IBM Partners to Work Together for the Benefit of the Clients.

Last month I received a distressed email from one of Lodestar Solutions’ longtime IBM Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics TM1 clients.  They were desperate to find an IBM Guardium expert because they recently had a system issue and when they called IBM support, they were told they would not help until they upgraded IBM Guardium to a currently supported version.  The client knew Lodestar was not experts in Guardium, but they trusted that we had connections with other boutique IBM Partners that were experts in Guardium.  In May 2020 IBM launched a new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that allows IBM Partners to work together for the benefit of the clients.

Why You Might Need an IBM Teaming Agreement

If you are an IBM reselling business partner and you specialize in a specific area, your clients may approach you asking for help with another IBM software product that you do not typically support.  Maybe the client has a question or needs support on IBM Security software licenses like Guardium, but you are not the expert on Guardium and not authorized to sell it.  You have a few options.

1. You can call IBM and have them handle it.

You could turn to IBM to connect them with the client but if you have strong relationships with your clients like we do, the client may say they want to buy it from you.  Additionally, if they were rejected by IBM support, like our client was, for not being on a supported version, they may want to work with someone they know and trust.

2. You can scramble to get your IBM certifications for the new product family.

You can take the steps to get your IBM certifications and add a new product to your IBM Business Partner Agreement.  But this can take a lot of time and may not be in your business growth roadmap.  Here’s more information on IBM certifications. 

3. Sell the licenses to the client at list price.

A while back IBM changed the rules and now allows IBM partners to sell software and support that is not in the category or brand family that they are certified to sell.  The problem with this is the margins are very low and even worse you can’t get a special bid to help save your valuable client money.   At Lodestar Solutions, we pride ourselves on getting the best value for our clients and would rather tell the client to buy from someone else then lose their trust in our commitment to getting them the best price.

4. Enter an IBM Teaming Agreement with another Partner to serve the client. (NEW)

Historically IBM did not allow reselling partners to buy IBM software from another business partner and sell it to their client.  If you did not have the certification for the brand family you are trying to sell, you could not buy it from anyone other than your value-added distributor (VAD).  

But in May 2020 IBM launched the new IBM Teaming Agreement Program that was designed to empower two boutique partners that are specialists in their specific niches to partner together, get the best price for the client and work together to solve the clients’ issues.  This change was huge!  Too bad they forgot to tell anyone it existed!   

What is the IBM Teaming Agreement Program?

Lodestar Solutions recently discovered that IBM now allows partner to work together if they sign an IBM Teaming Agreement.  The agreement consists of two IBM contracts that are signed by the two partners that want to work together.  By signing the agreements and submitting them to IBM, the IBM Business Partner that has the product expertise can sell the software and services to the Business Partner with the client relationship.  Without the teaming agreement in place, I believe it is still a violation of IBM partner channel rules for one partner to sell software to another that is planning to resell to the customer, but I defer to IBM on this. 

Benefits of IBM Teaming Agreement

The IBM Teaming Agreement Program offers several benefits to both partners, the client and IBM. 

The benefits to the clients:

  • The clients get to work with a partner they have a long relationship with and trust.  
  • The partner that will sell them the software is already an established, authorized vendor in their procurement system.
  • The client and the partner may already have a Master Service Agreement in place and any new services can be provided under a new Statement of Work, saving time going through legal review.
  • The client will still get the benefit of any promotion or a special bid offering a discount on the software.
  • The client will have an improved customer buying experience by purchasing multiple IBM Products from one BP.
  • The clients will benefit from the higher service level they get from boutique partners that choose to focus on a specialized area, and therefore higher level of expertise.

The benefits to the partners:

  • The IBM Business Partner with the close relationship with the client is viewed as the trusted advisor that can connect the client with other boutique partners.
  • The two business partners can create a profit-sharing agreement to be rewarded for their efforts.
  • The partners may qualify for all IBM CVR margins available including engaged/solutions as long as one has the correct IBM Certifications.
  • Both IBM Partners benefit from growing their businesses by sharing their clients.

How Does the IBM Teaming Agreement Process Work?

Candidly discovering how the IBM Teaming Agreement process works, was painful for me.  I spent hours talking to several IBMers and Ingram Micro team members, but I believe we finally were able to put all the parts together including CVR, registration, legal documents…  Now that we know the process, we are shocked how easy it is when you have a checklist of the process, which Lodestar created.

Call to Action – Connect with Lodestar Solutions

Now that we discovered the process, Lodestar is looking for other IBM Business Partners to create Teaming agreements.  We have fabulous connections with our clients, and we are happy to introduce boutique partners that are passionate about adding value to clients!  If you are experts in any of the IBM software portfolios we want to connect.  To learn more about us go to our website.

Maybe we will share the details on how the program works in our next blog…  email me at hcole@lodestarsolutions.com to start the conversation.

How to Get the Best Value on Your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals

Support Value
Support Value
August 27th, 2020

We all know the best price is not always the best value when shopping and it is true of IBM Support Renewals as well.   If you are looking to renew your IBM Cognos, Planning Analytics (TM1) or SPSS support you want to make sure you get the best value.  You might be thinking, my support is the same if I buy it from IBM or a partner.  But that is not always true! Today we will share secrets on, “How to get the Best Value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.”

IBM Support Renewals Process

Let’s start by reviewing the IBM support renewals process.  When you purchased your initial licensing for Cognos, Tm1 or SPSS you received one year of support with the purchase.  After that you are provided a quote for support from IBM annually. This support allows you access to patches, upgrades and the ability to contact IBM directly for support.  Here’s a link to IBM information about renewing support.

Keep Current on IBM Support

Lodestar Solutions recommends all clients keep current on their support.  It’s not worth the risk of being unsupported.  (See our blog, Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support)  And of course we resell IBM support as do many partners.

Partners Sell Support Cheaper Then IBM

In the past, IBM partners like Lodestar Solutions were often able to sell support renewals to clients cheaper then IBM could sell it.  The way we provided aggressive quotes to clients was by giving up some of our margin, which we called the Lodestar client discount.  But what makes Lodestar unique is that in addition to very competitive quotes, Lodestar provides clients with an annual license check-up where we discuss what you own, what changes IBM has made in the licensing and the software and offer recommendations based on your unique situation.

What the Heck Do I Own - Cognos, TMI, SPSS

Our clients have found Lodestar’s IBM Support Renewal checkups and “What the Heck Do I Own” sessions for Cognos BI, Cognos Planning Analytics (TM1), and SPSS very beneficial.  Every client that renews with Lodestar receives a free customized, “What the Heck do I Own” session where we review your licenses and educate you on functionality you did not even know you had.  We talk about your challenges and how other clients have overcome similar challenges.  This is a very beneficial session. It’s not uncommon for clients to tell us the one-hour session taught them more than a week at an IBM event.   Our reviews have saved our clients huge amounts of money.  (Check out our blog: How an IBM Cognos User Reduced Support Costs by $30,000!)

IBM Changes to Renewals August 2020

Well, in August 2020 IBM changed the partner renewal program and significantly reduced the margins that partners could make. As part of the changes IBM decided they wanted to protect partners that sold the renewal last year, by giving what they call the incumbent partner more margin than other partners.  

Personally, I disagree with IBM’s changes because I believe in competition.  Not all partners offer the same value for the renewal.  I believe the recent move may hurt clients as it does not create an incentive for true value adding partners to reach out to help clients that may be confused with their licensing.  If you renewed with a partner last year that just gave a fabulous quote and did not add value, and this year you want help with licensing and clarification as to what you own, you may find that as you reach out to other IBM partners, they may not want to even provide a quote because they can’t make enough money to justify the work.

Case Study for Value Added Renewals

For a long time, Lodestar Solutions had a client that regularly reviewed their licenses with Lodestar.  Then 5 years ago the executives at the client decided to move all their support renewals to what we refer to as a license consolidator.  Consolidators are large companies that can renew almost every software brand and give discounts due to volume.  The client’s goal was to save money. 

The Cognos BI and TM1 power users were very upset as they loved all the value added services they received throughout the year from Lodestar Solutions.  But the decision came from the top.  Lodestar still worked with the client for services but did not provide licensing recommendations or the annual renewal review. 

Then late in 2018 IBM made changes to the licensing of Enterprise Planning Users and the changes put some clients that move to TM1 at risk of failing an audit.  (See Video for details)  So, Lodestar Solutions reached out to all clients we thought were at risk due to the changes, even those that moved to consolidators.  Well, it turns out, the consolidator did not educate the client on IBM license changes or do annual reviews and the client failed an audit a year earlier costing them almost $1 Million.  When we reached out educating them, they may again fail an audit they realized that the consolidator wasn’t saving them money it actually cost them a bundle!  Yes, the client returned to work with Lodestar for their renewals.  But the moral of the story is, the best price is not the best value.

IBM Changes Not in Clients Best Interest

As I stated earlier, I do not believe IBM’s recent changes to their partner renewals program benefits the clients, but it did cause me to look in the mirror and ask myself how Lodestar can add even more value!  You see, I hate telling the clients their “Lodestar client discount” is being significantly reduced.  But, due to IBM changes we cannot offer the same level of discounts, so instead we are upping our value.  Effective September 2020 all clients that renew their support with Lodestar Solutions will receive the following:

Lodestar Support Client Bonuses

  • Annual licensing review to ensure you are in the optimal licensing mix
  • A “What the Heck do I Own” session where we discuss the new functionality of your unique licensing mix
  • A forward-looking discussion to create a roadmap and recommendation of 3rd party tools that might help you realize your vision faster
  • Access to Lodestar’s private client only collection of videos to educate you on new functionality
  • Periodic no charge check-ins to address your challenges
  • Presentation coaching to help you gain the support and resources you need to success
  • Lodestar Virtual Semi-Annual User Group Meetings
  • Invites to Lodestar exclusive events and offers

NEXT STEP TO GET MORE VALUE FOR YOUR IBM SUPPORT RENEWAL

Lodestar Solutions is here to help you get the best value on your Cognos, TM1 and SPSS Support Renewals.  Value is not just price.  When you evaluate who you work with, don’t you want someone that understands licensing, can navigate the IBM red tape and helps you succeed?

If you want to get the most value from your IBM Support renewal, contact us today at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and set up a time to chat.

Why IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner

IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner
IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner
August 6th, 2020

Are you a mid-market company using IBM analytics tools like Cognos, SPSS and TM1?  If so, you might be frustrated that IBM has a revolving door of account executives managing your account.  We understand your pain and so does IBM.  That is why IBM recommends working with an IBM Business Partner. This is particularly true for smaller, mid-market organizations.

IBM Structure

IBM’s structure is complex.  They have many people assigned to each account all with unique roles designed to help you and sell more software.  A typical mid-market account will have an account executive that manages the entire IBM relationship, two analytics reps to cover different products in the portfolio and a renewal rep whose job is to get you to renew.  That is a lot of IBMers.  But sometimes clients needing help feel like they are just spinning within the IBM land, not knowing who to call. That is why IBM recommends working with a business partner.

In addition to the above roles IBM also breaks down clients based on an account classification.  They have strategic accounts which are typically very large companies.  IBM led accounts which are large companies that IBM is focused on servicing.  Finally, the smaller or mid-market companies fall in what is typically called BP-Led for business partner led. 

What is BP-Led?

IBM realized that they cannot focus on every market.  Logically IBM wants to focus on the large enterprises, so they strategically planned for mid-market clients is to leverage skilled, certified partners.   Certified IBM business partners, like Lodestar Solutions, provide huge value to clients.  For over 16 years Lodestar Solutions has helped our clients with licensing, renewals, training, and providing consulting services.

Note that not all firms stating they provide IBM Cognos, TM1 or SPSS services are certified authorized business partners.  Certified partners that are authorized to sell IBM software and provide services must obtain certification and are held to a high standard.  To find certified, authorized partners check out IBM’s site.

Benefits of Working with a Partner

For Midmarket IBM clients, partners are fabulous because often you can get your answers from one person instead of bouncing around IBM structures like a pinball.  Experienced partners know how to cut through the red-tape and are with you for the long haul.  Since partners not only sell licensing and renewals but also implement they are like one-stop shopping.

How to Leverage a Partner

Licensing

As an IBM analytics client have you ever wondered what the heck you really own?  Wondering if there is a better licensing model to save you money or provide more functionality? 

IBM’s licensing models have changed a lot over the years and partners can ensure you are maximizing your investment.  Lodestar offers a session called, “What the Heck Do I Own - IBM Analytics” where we walk you through what you own, how clients use the various components and advise you on money saving techniques.  Email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a session.

Lodestar Solutions has identified that some IBM Cognos and TM1 clients are on outdated licensing models

While others could benefit from new subscription options of the software like SPSS Statistics Subscriptions.  

Renewals

IBM certified reselling partners can also help you with your renewals.  Lodestar Solutions offers clients a complimentary annual license review and new functionality discussion.  In this discussion we address challenges, educate clients on licensing changes and warn of potential landmines.  Our clients love these sessions and leave motivated and empowered. 

Additionally, if you are receiving multiple support bills throughout the year, Christina our renewal specialist can help consolidate your bills, so that you get a single bill for all your IBM Analytics support.  This will make your planning and budgeting for Cognos a lot easier.

Yes, you can just renew with IBM, but did you know that the renewal specialist does not know if your licensing would pass an audit. Their only job is to renew your licensing.  But with Lodestar you get a deep dive review, and you will never pay more than you can buy it from IBM.

Blogs for your benefit

The first step is to make sure you understand what the heck you own with your IBM Cognos licensing. The second step is to make sure you have access to talented people when you need help.  

Let's schedule a time to chat.

Now you know Why IBM Recommends Working with a Business Partner.  Lodestar Solutions wants to be your go to partner.  We are offering a complimentary 1 hour session to discuss your challenges and to provide a “What the Heck Do I Own” session where we will discuss your specific licensing.  If you have specific product questions you can email them in advanced of the meeting.  In our virtual meeting, we will also make recommendations if there is a better licensing alternative to save you money.   The trick to saving money is to review the licensing before your next renewal, so we need to act quickly.

Email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com today to schedule a complimentary discussion.

IBM SPSS Stat Licensing Options

IBM SPSS Stat Options
June 3rd, 2020

Options for Buying IBM SPSS Statistics

Are you an IBM SPSS Statistics user or looking to buy SPSS Stat?  Then you must read this because IBM has changed their licensing model over the years, and you might be on the wrong licensing model!  There are many options for buying IBM SPSS Statistics.  IBM offers SPSS Stat as a subscription often called a SaaS model or the traditional on-premise licensing model.  Below I will explain the difference and things you might want to consider. 

Click here for more information on SPSS Stat.

IBM SPSS Stat as Subscription or On-premise Licensing

The SaaS, subscription model is really a hybrid SaaS approach.  You download and install the software on your machine, but your user access, entitlements and features are managed in the cloud.  The benefit is that it eliminated the need for authorization codes.  Since the software is on your machine you do not have to worry about your data being in the cloud, as it does not leave your machine. 

Benefits of SaaS SPSS Stat

Get Updates Faster - There are several benefits of SPSS Stat as a SaaS offering.  In addition to not having to deal with authorization codes, the updates are made more frequently and will be downloaded to your desktop.  So, you can get the enhancements sooner than if you had the on-premise licensing. 

Multiple Users - If you have multiple users of SPSS Stat the subscription licensing model may be a better fit.  You can enable as many users as you need for your team.  Where it makes life easier is that if you have a change in team members and need to reassign a license.  With the SaaS model you have user management features that simplify this process.  You can also easily move your subscription to a different machine. Check out this article for reference. 

Manage Devices

SPSS Stat Add Ons - Do you use advanced statistics, complex sampling and testing, or decision trees?  No worries, with SPSS Stat subscription you can add on the additional modules.  For help with the functionality including the various modules, email services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will provide you an easy to use cheat sheet of functionality.

How long do I get access to SPSS Stat? - In the SPSS Stat subscription model, you will have access to the updates and new releases as long as your subscription is active.  But note, if you discontinue or let the subscription lapse you will lose access. This is different than on-premise licensing as stated below.

IBM SPSS Stat On-premise Licensing

The alternative to SPSS Stat subscription is called on-premise licensing. This is the more traditional model of licensing.  For anyone that purchased before 2017, this is probably the model you are on.  But that does not mean that’s what you should be on! 

What is On-Premise SPSS?

On-Premise SPSS Stat licenses are considered an asset.  You purchase the software as a capital expense and then every year you renew and pay for support. The support subscription fees for SPSS Stat give you access to IBM support, patches, and updates, but only if you are current on support.  If you discontinue support, not recommended, you still own the asset and can use it, but you will not have access to updates.

Two Versions of On-Premise SPSS Stat

Just to add a little more complexity, it is important to note that IBM offers two different versions of what they call on-premise licenses for SPSS Stat.  One is called Fixed Term.  In fixed term you only get to use it for the term of the contract, usually a year.  So, it is almost like it is on premise but expires. The annual fee for this is usually less than purchasing the asset but if you plan to use SPSS Stat for 3+ years, it is typically cheaper long term to purchase the asset.  Additionally, the fixed term licenses for SPSS Stat is typically not a capital expense because you do not own an asset, but rather an operating expense. 

If you need help with support Lodestar’s team can help you determine if you should stay with your current licensing or if moving to the subscription model is a better option. Contact us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

Here a link to a previous blog on renewals. 

What type of SPSS Stat license should you buy? 

As we explained there are several options for buying IBM SPSS Statistics.  The type of license that is best for you, subscription or on-premise depends on your unique organization needs.  I know you hate that answer, but it is true.  But here is the good news.  Our Lodestar team members can help you determine what the best fit is!  We will give you your options, explain the difference and help you save money.  What are you waiting for?   Even if you have no clue what type of license you have, we can help decode your IBM SPSS and Analytic licenses.  Just contact us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com

For more information click here

Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support

Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support
Consequences of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support
April 8th, 2020

Given the uncertain nature of our world today many IBM Cognos users are scrutinizing all of their costs, including their annual IBM support and subscription renewal, which some call maintenance.  I can’t say I blame people for thinking, “hmm maybe we should not renew our IBM support.” However, there are a number of consequences of not renewing IBM Cognos Support for BI, Planning Analytics (TM1) and SPSS that you should know about before you stop your IBM Support.

Can we still use IBM Cognos BI/ TM1 If we don’t have support?

The first question Lodestar Solutions, get’s asked when a client is considering not renewing IBM Cognos support is can we still use Cognos or Planning Analytics (TM1)? Assuming you have purchased IBM Cognos on premise, or local licensing (not SAAS) the answer in the USA is yes.  IBM licensing offers what we call a perpetual license and when you purchased it, you bought an asset.  Every year when you renew your support you are buying a year’s worth of access to the latest patches, updates and the right to call IBM for support. If you don’t renew your support you can still use the software, but you will not be able to upgrade or contact IBM support.  Additionally, Lodestar Solutions, or your implementation partner will not be able to log support cases on your behalf.

Note if you purchased your IBM through a software or service company that has a contract with IBM that allows them to embed Cognos into their solution, you can’t call IBM and your terms are governed by your contract with the Embedded Solutions Partner.

For the Lawyers

For the lawyers in your organization, you can let them know that your on-premise lBM licensing is govern by the IBM Licensing Agreement.  Most IBM clients are under the Passport Agreement program. And, within that program the software licensing contract that governs is under the IPLA.

Here’s the link. Click HERE to download the pdf.

What If We Skip the Renewal this Year?

If you decided to stick with not renewing your IBM Cognos support, you would have the legal rights to still use the version you are on. However, you could not upgrade, get updates or call IBM. Because we consider TM1 and BI mission critical systems, we don’t recommend going unsupported. If next year you decide you want to upgrade or get back on support IBM might make you buy the full license again. Not cheap. Or at least buy the back year of support plus the forward year and potentially a reinstatement penalty. 

Risk of Not Renewing IBM Cognos Support

Lodestar Solutions’ job it to protect our clients and as such I must share with you what I believe the biggest risk of not renewing your support!  It’s Microsoft or other 3rd party tools!  Yes, Microsoft!  You see, there are parts of IBM Cognos BI and TM1 that leverage connections to Excel, and/or Power Point.  If you don’t currently use the Microsoft integration contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com and we will share this cool functionality.  But, as you may have noticed Microsoft sends updates all the time!  We use Microsoft 365 and it’s always updating.

Imagine this, it’s a day before your big quarterly presentation of the numbers. You have Cognos BI or TM1 connected to your Excel or PowerPoint to update all your slides.  But when you go to update the PowerPoint or maybe Excel, it doesn’t work.  You realized that Microsoft sent an update 3 days ago and it apparently broke the connection.  What do you do?  You call your support desk they walk you through a few things and say, hmm I think the update broke something we will have to get with IBM to get a patch.  Then a rush of adrenaline.  You know you can’t get a patch from IBM, because you are not supported. 

You don’t want to live this scenario trust me.  But it has happened, and it will again.  And it’s not just Microsoft. Software companies are agile and flooding us with updates to protect us. But if we don’t maintain support on our systems it can hurt us too.

Can I Turn Off my Microsoft Updates?

You might be saying, well I’ll turn off the automatic updates and control when I get them.  Which I too thought was an option until I recently learned that with Windows 10 you can’t really control if updates are applied. You apparently can only delay it for up to 35 days. So, if you are on Windows 10 and don’t renew your Cognos support, Microsoft updates might break your connections.  I didn’t realize you can’t stop updates anymore. Check out this link for details.

Options to Preserve Cash on Cognos Renewal

We fully understand the desire to preserve cash and find cost savings in these uncertain times. That’s exactly why Lodestar has helped many clients get creative on their renewals. We recommend renewing your IBM Cognos support. Here’s a few ways we have helped clients save money on their renewals.

  1. Are you in the right Cognos licensing mix?
    Every year Lodestar clients get an annual license review where we meet with you and ensure you are in the right licensing mix. IBM changes licensing periodically. It’s like a cell phone plan, if you don’t evaluate if you are on the right plan, you could be paying way too much. If our analysis determines you could save money while getting the functionality you need, we will assist you in getting on the right licensing structure. Check out our blog on this topic. 

  2. Get a two-year quote for renewal.
    Did you know that Lodestar Solutions can provide you with a quote for two years of support and because you are contractually committing to renewing for two years, IBM offers a volume savings?  Because your annual support on Cognos is based on the prior year paid, you would end up saving money even in year 3.  Now this only works if you know you will stay on the IBM platform for two years, but a great way to save money.  Lodestar is happy to provide you a quote and review your licensing.  Just email renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.

  3. Leveraging IBM Global Financing. 
    Just last month Lodestar was able to help a client in a high-risk industry secure a 0% interest financing rate for their renewal from IBM Global Financing (IGF).  The client opted to pay quarterly over the next year, which really helped them with their cash flow challenges.  Lodestar has also helped clients leverage IGF to purchase a two-year IBM Support renewal, thus qualifying for a discount on their support for the second year. Clients have secured 0% on the two-year purchase and opted to pay quarterly over the two-year term. Now that’s like doubling down on savings!  The process to use IGF is quite simple and will not take a lot of work for your organization. Lodestar Solutions can walk you through the process. Click here for more information on IGF. I have heard that interest rates may be going up so, if you have an upcoming renewal, please contact renewals@lodestarsolutions.com.
Leverage IGF for your Cognos Renewal

In summary, we recommend you always renew your IBM Support.  The consequences of not renewing IBM Cognos Support can be very detrimental.  Other systems and software are sending updates regularly and that can break your IBM Software.  Lodestar Solutions is here to help you figure out how you can save money and protect your cash flow on Cognos BI, Planning Analytics (TM1), SPSS, Renewals and other IBM solutions.  But don’t wait, contact us today at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to learn your options on your renewal, the more time we have the more creative we can be. 

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