Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal

IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
IBM Support Renewal and Upgrade Bundle
Written by Heather L. Cole, February 16th, 2024

Are you navigating the complexities of renewing your IBM Analytics software directly with IBM, perhaps feeling uncertain about whether you're truly maximizing value? Or maybe you're at a crossroads with your current Cognos or Planning Analytics version, aware that it's inching closer to sunset and will soon be unsupported, leaving you in a quandary about finding the time and resources for an essential upgrade. If this resonates with you, it's time to consider a strategic pivot that could redefine your approach to your software renewal and upgrades. I'm Heather Cole from Lodestar Solutions, and we're here to introduce you to a game-changing opportunity that could alleviate your concerns and elevate your analytics capabilities.

Why Shift from Direct Renewals to Lodestar Solutions?

Choosing Lodestar Solutions for your IBM Analytics renewal isn't just about continuing your software support; it's about entering a partnership that extends far beyond a transactional relationship. Unlike direct renewals with IBM, which might offer a straightforward continuation of services, Lodestar Solutions enriches this experience with a suite of added benefits designed to enhance your team's efficiency, knowledge, and strategic insight into using IBM Analytics tools.

Did you know?

IBM offers clients that renew their Cognos, SPSS, or Planning Analytics licensing at the exact same rates that IBM Gold Partners, like Lodestar Solutions offer.  That’s right.  There are no extra savings by going directly with IBM.  However, there is extra VALUE by working with Lodestar Solutions.

Exclusive Access and Support: 

With Lodestar, every renewal comes with membership to our quarterly live virtual client-only user groups, membership in our monthly Analytic Success Klub to develop advanced soft skills, as well as quarterly webinars focusing on maximizing your analytics initiatives, and all clients get semi-annual reviews to ensure your needs are comprehensively met. Our approach is to not just renew but to empower, educate, and elevate your team's capabilities.

Introducing the Technical Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle

Recognizing the challenges many face with upgrading to the latest versions of Cognos or Planning Analytics—be it due to technical resource constraints, time limitations, or the technical intricacies of an upgrade process—Lodestar Solutions offers a tailored solution: the Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle. This exclusive package is designed specifically for new clients who are at a critical juncture, needing to upgrade their software to stay current and supported.  We have offered upgrade bundles for years, see our blog, Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge.  But now we are bundling our bundle with IBM support renewals.

Seamless Upgrade Experience:

Our Upgrade Bundle is the antidote to upgrade hesitations, providing the expert technical support needed to transition smoothly to the latest software version. This ensures you not only stay ahead of the curve with the most advanced analytics tools but also do so with the assurance of continuous support and guidance.

Fixed Rate:

Lodestar Solutions’ Upgrade Bundles provide your upgrades at a fixed rate, so there are no surprises in the cost if there are unforeseen issues with your upgrade.  Lodestar Solutions carries the risk.

Enhanced Value Proposition:

This bundle goes beyond a simple renewal or upgrade; it's a comprehensive solution that aligns with your strategic goals, offering unparalleled value. You'll benefit from our full suite of renewal advantages while ensuring your software remains cutting-edge, all within a framework designed to be cost-effective and supportive of your organizational needs.

Licensing Review:

As part of the bundle Lodestar will provide a complimentary License review to ensure you will not fail an audit, and identify if there is a more advantageous, economical licensing structure you may benefit from.  Did you know IBM clients should expect to be audited by IBM every 3-4 years?   About IBM Audits  You don’t want to fail an audit!

Make the Strategic Pivot Today

If your organization is directly renewing IBM Analytics software and facing the imminent need to upgrade, Lodestar Solutions' Upgrade and Support Renewal Bundle presents an opportune solution. It's an invitation to not just maintain your software but to strategically enhance it, supported by a partner dedicated to your success.

Let's redefine the way you approach your IBM Analytics software renewal and upgrade. Contact Lodestar Solutions at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com to explore this unique bundle tailored to new clients. 

Act Fast: Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Software Deserves More Than Just a Renewal.  It's time to transition from direct renewals to a partnership that promises more than just continuation but a significant elevation of your analytics capabilities. Join us on this journey and unlock the full potential of your IBM Analytics investment with Lodestar Solutions.

IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers

IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers
IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers
Written by Heather L. Cole, December 8th, 2023

December is a great time to review, reflect, and plan for the next year.  So, Lodestar Solutions thought it would be a great time to provide a short and easy checklist for our Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics customers to ensure they are not at risk of failing an IBM Audit.  So, we created this simple IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers.

PVU and ILMT Basics

For those new to administering Cognos or Planning Analytics licensing let’s start with the basics. If you know the basics, just skip down to the ILMT checklist…

What is a Processor Value Unit?

A PVU (Processor Value Unit) is a unit of measure used by IBM to determine the usage on the server. Technically, a PVU license is assigned to the Analytic Server, meaning there is a cost per core processor. Simple enough right? Not so fast. The value assigned to each core depends on the hardware. Not all core processors are treated alike. It’s kind of like being taxed a little higher for a luxury automobile, the better the performance the higher the tax. A server’s Processor Value Unit count is defined by the brand, model, and number of physical processors running in the server and the number of core chips per processor. To calculate the number of Processor Value Units, it also is necessary to refer to IBM’s PVU-per-core ratings for current processor technologies, which are updated on IBM’s website here.

What is the ILMT?

IBM® License Metric Tool (ILMT) helps IBM Passport Advantage® (PA) customers determine their full and sub-capacity processor value units (PVU) licensing requirements. It helps calculate the number of PVUs available to install Passport Advantage PVU-based software, including supported virtualized servers. Passport Advantage and Passport Advantage Express customers can order this tool at no charge by selecting the IBM License Metric Tool, part number D561HLL.

For more information see our blog, ILMT Tool Questions and Answers

And check out IBM’s page on the ILMT.  See, we aren’t making this up.  

Who Needs the ILMT?

If you have Cognos Analytics PVU licensing, we are pretty certain you need it installed.  If you have IBM Planning Analytics licensing that includes PVUs, you must have it installed. Note there are licensing options that don’t require the ILMT but if you look at your proof of entitlements from IBM just look for PVU licensing, it should be in the name.  Need help, contact us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Here's our IBM ILMT Checklist

1.   Processes Value Unit Licensing (PVU) with IBM: 

  • Confirm whether your organization has adopted Processes Value Unit Licensing (PVU) with IBM by checking your Proof of Entitlements from IBM.
  • Ensure that all relevant departments and personnel are aware of and compliant with PVU licensing.

2.   Non-Production Environment for Testing and Upgrades:  

  • Verify the existence of a designated Non-Production Environment for testing and upgrades.
  • If you are using a non-production environment you should ensure you have the proper licensing for Non-Production too.  This requirement depends on the unique software you use and who uses it, so check with Lodestar to confirm if this is required. (See our blog for more information.) To ask specific questions, email us at  services@lodestarsolutions.com.

3.   Run the ILMT Report Quarterly: 

  • Confirm that the ILMT report is run regularly at a minimum every quarter.
  • Schedule and assign responsibility for running the report to ensure consistent monitoring.

4.   Check ILMT Report Results Against the Licensing You Own: 

  • Review ILMT report results to verify compliance with processor value unit licensing owned.
  • Take corrective actions if the report indicates potential over-usage to avoid licensing issues.
    - You can reduce the core processors allocated.
    - Purchase additional PVUs of licensing. Email us at Sales@lodestarsolutions.com to receive a quote.

5.   Archive 2 Years of Reports on a Different Server: 

  • Establish a process for archiving ILMT reports, ensuring that at least two years' worth of reports are stored.
  • Store archived reports on a separate server or secure location for easy access during audits or historical reference and to ensure when you upgrade you don’t blow away the reports with the old environment.

In Summary

The main reason we see clients fail audits is they either don’t have the ILMT installed and properly running with their PVU licensing, or they don’t have 2 years of reports.

Remember to adapt this ILMT Checklist to the specific needs and nuances of your organization's IT environment. Regular reviews and updates to the checklist may be necessary to accommodate changes in technology, licensing agreements, or organizational processes. We hope you leverage our IBM ILMT Checklist for Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytic Customers.

Need help, have questions? Lodestar Solutions has your back!  Contact us if you need:

  • To review your IBM Licensing
  • To install the ILMT Software
  • To automate the running of the ILMT and more…

Just email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com. We are here to help.

Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments

Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments
Safeguarding Your IBM Investments: The Vital Role of IBM ILMT in Virtualized Environments
Written by Heather L. Cole, November 16th, 2023

In the fast-paced landscape of modern businesses, many organizations have embraced virtualization to optimize their server infrastructure and reduce costs. However, with this advancement comes the responsibility of managing software licenses effectively. For those leveraging IBM's Processor Value Unit (PVU) pricing model, the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) becomes an indispensable asset.

Understanding the Imperative of ILMT:

IBM ILMT is a critical component for clients utilizing PVU pricing, especially in virtualized environments—something that has become the norm for most companies. The tool ensures compliance by monitoring and reporting on software usage, a key factor in determining the appropriate licensing fees.

Quarterly Check-ins:

One of the often-overlooked aspects of ILMT is the need for quarterly check-ins. It's not enough to simply have ILMT installed; companies must actively run the reports every quarter. This routine check ensures accurate monitoring of server usage and helps in creating a comprehensive audit trail.

Don’t Fail an IBM Audit. 

Automate or Manual: The Choice is Yours:

To streamline the process, companies can either automate their ILMT or assign team members to run the reports manually. Automation not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of oversight. Regardless of the method chosen, the key is consistency.

The Pitfalls of Neglect:

Recently, a client's oversight underscored the consequences of neglecting ILMT procedures. During an environment upgrade, they inadvertently erased the old server without transferring the ILMT reports. This seemingly small error could lead to catastrophic results during an IBM audit.

Two Years of Records: A Non-Negotiable Requirement

IBM mandates that organizations maintain two years' worth of ILMT reports—eight quarters. This extended period ensures a comprehensive historical record and protects against unexpected audits. Failing to meet this requirement can result in severe financial repercussions.

The High Stakes of Audit Failures:

The gravity of failing an IBM audit due to incomplete ILMT records cannot be overstated. Even if the ILMT is installed, if it doesn't record usage every quarter for two years, the consequences are dire. Organizations risk being charged for the full server capacity, not just the allocated resources for their specific environment.

Strategic Storage: Beyond the Server

To mitigate risks, companies should designate responsible team members for ILMT, decide where reports will be stored, and implement strategic storage practices. Storing reports solely on the server is insufficient. Having a backup offsite is crucial for safeguarding against unexpected data loss.

Conclusion:

In the dynamic realm of IT, overlooking the significance of IBM ILMT can lead to severe financial repercussions and jeopardize an organization's compliance standing. Regular, quarterly ILMT reports, meticulous storage practices, and a comprehensive, two-year audit trail are non-negotiable aspects of responsible software license management. In a landscape where technology evolves rapidly, maintaining diligence with tools like ILMT is paramount for securing your IBM investments and ensuring long-term operational efficiency. 

Need Help:

Lodestar Solutions provides ILMT implementation and upgrade service.  If you would like assistance, please contact us at services@lodestarsolutions.com.

IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024

IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024
IBM Software License Prices and Lodestar Project Rates for 2024
Written by Mike Bernaiche, October 27th, 2023

These are the blogs I’m not a fan of writing but feel it necessary to provide you with the latest information from IBM and Lodestar regarding IBM Software Licenses and project rates.

As you are aware, the US has experienced significant rate increases in almost everything from insurance, labor, and operating expenses. As such, we want to inform you about some crucial updates related to IBM software licenses and our project rates for the upcoming year, 2024, so you can budget appropriately.

IBM Software License Prices:

Effective January 1, 2024, IBM will be implementing a 6% price increase for their software licenses. To assist you in managing your budget effectively, we recommend considering any upcoming licensing needs before December 23, 2023. By making your purchase before the year-end, not only will you ensure seamless continuity of your software licenses, but you will also enjoy significant cost savings.  See IBM Announcement

Additionally, for those anticipating an expansion of their licensing requirements in 2024, this proactive step will safeguard you against the price increase, helping you make the most of your IT budget.

We understand the importance of budget planning for your organization. We encourage you to take advantage of our end-of-year discounts. If you anticipate needing additional licenses in 2024, purchasing them before December 23, will not only grant you access to the lower 2023 pricing but also offer special discounts as part of our year-end promotion.

Project Rates Adjustment:

Starting January 1, 2024, we will be making a modest adjustment to some of our project rates, resulting in an approximate 5% increase. Please be assured that this adjustment will not impact the terms of your current statements of work. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing you with the exceptional quality of services that you have come to expect from us.  This increase will not be across the board on services, only certain services will see this increase.  Our rates remain very competitive in the industry, and we believe the value we provide far outweighs the cost.

We provide the following services:

  • Technical Support – This includes upgrades, installation of new IBM Analytics software, database work, security, and much more.  Ask us about our upgrade bundles to save you money.
  • Planning Analytics and Cognos Analytics Consulting Including - architecture, modeling, model redesign, end-user reporting, and dashboard creation.
  • Power BI Consulting – data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Tableau Consulting - data, creating reports, and visualizations.
  • Training – Cognos Analytics and Planning Analytics training for both the novice and experienced. Including both modeler and end-user training.

Speaking of training – coming soon is a public virtual Cognos Analytics training class.  You can find all the important info here.

Summary

If you have specific licensing requirements or need assistance understanding how these changes might affect your organization, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We are here to assist you in finding the most cost-effective solutions tailored to your unique needs.

Please feel free to contact me directly at mbernaiche@lodestarsolutions.com with any questions or concerns you may have. We value your partnership and are dedicated to supporting you through this transition.

Thank you for choosing Lodestar Solutions as your technology partner. We are excited about the opportunities that 2024 holds and look forward to continuing to support your organization's growth and success.

Unlocking the Full Potential of IBM Subscription and Support for Cognos and Planning Analytics: X, Y, and Z Parts Explained

IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics
IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics
Written by Christina Vandeveer, July 26th, 2023

IBM Support has recently introduced exciting changes to their extended support offerings for IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics, going above and beyond the usual IBM Subscription and Support (S&S) renewal. In this blog, we will explore the three main IBM Subscription and Support Updates (X, Y, and Z Parts) and how they can benefit your business. Before delving into the updates, let's first understand the importance of your standard IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics S&S and what it includes.

The Value of IBM Standard Subscription and Support (S&S):

Before exploring the updates, let's take a closer look at what your IBM S&S entails. This comprehensive chart will outline the details of what you're paying for, ensuring you understand its significance.

IBM Base Subscription and Support

IBM Extended Support (X Parts):

IBM's Extended Support has been revamped to offer clients support after the standard support period ends for their program version or release. The updated X Parts include:

  • Standardized support life cycle with four years of support after the EOS date.
  • Access to usage and existing published fixes.
  • First-year coverage for new critical fixes.
  • Additional time for clients to migrate to a newer supported version of the product.

IBM Sustained Support (Y Parts):

The all-new Sustained Support Offering provides clients with continued support when no new versions or releases are available for a program. Key features of Y Parts include:

  • Standardized support life cycle with up to 5 years of post-EOS support for End of Market products.
  • Access to usage and existing published fixes.
  • Possibility of new critical fixes with the acquisition of Extended Support.

IBM Advanced Support (Z Parts):

Introducing the premium support model, Advanced Support, which enhances your active IBM support subscription with the following perks:

  • Higher case prioritization for critical issues.
  • Faster response time objectives.
  • Lead Technical Support Focal for personalized assistance.

For busy professionals with deadlines and CFOs to answer to, waiting for support is not an option. IBM's Advanced Support is designed to help you manage your critical workload efficiently, available for both SaaS and On-premise licensing.

Find out more about IBM's Advanced Support Offering

Conclusion

The new IBM Subscription and Support Upgrades (X, Y, and Z Parts) offer a host of benefits for Cognos and Planning Analytics clients, to help you make the most of your IBM products. At Lodestar, we're here to guide you through these options and find the best fit for your business. When the time comes to renew or upgrade your Cognos and Planning Analytics licenses, don't fret; we've got you covered. Contact us at renewals@lodestarsolutions.com, and we'll explore the perfect solution for your needs.

Don’t Fail an IBM Audit Because ILMT Quarterly Upgrades are Now Required.

Don't Fail an IBM Audit, IBM quarterly upgrades now required
Don't Fail an IBM Audit, IBM quarterly upgrades now required
Written by Mike Bernaiche, April 5th, 2023

Attention IBM Cognos and IBM Planning Analytics clients!  You may have missed the recent announcement from IBM that could have serious implications for your sub-capacity licensing if you have PVU (Processor Value Unit Licensing). (IBM Announcement)  Manual updates of the software catalogue in ILMT are no longer supported, and this change could lead to significant consequences for those who fail to comply.  Don’t fail an IBM audit because your ILMT catalog is out of date.  ILMT Quarterly Upgrades are Now Required if you have PVU licensing.

IBM - ILMT Background

For those unfamiliar with the IBM Planning Analytics and Cognos sub-capacity licensing, it allows you to license only some of the processors in a server for a particular product when you have PVU licensing. However, to ensure compliance, there are certain rules that must be followed, including running a monitoring tool called ILMT and keeping the software catalogue up to date.  Previously, most organizations upgraded their version of ILMT every 12-18 months and manually updated their software catalogue and PVU tables every three months to stay license compliant.

IBM References:

Manual Upload to ILMT of Catalog Required

However, with the release of ILMT update 9.2.20.0, the ability to manually upload the software catalogue to the License Metric Tool was removed.  Not sure this is an upgrade, more of a downgrade maybe.  Now, you are required to do a full upgrade to the latest release of the IBM Licensing Metric Tool every quarter to ensure your software catalogue is correct.

Full ILMT Upgrade Every Quarter

The implications for clients are significant.  To remain compliant, you will need to do a full upgrade of ILMT every quarter, which is significantly more complex than the previous task of manually updating the software catalogue.  Additional tasks will include opening a change request for a production system, database backup, system administrator to carry out the upgrade, and testing to ensure the upgrade was successful.  Moreover, additional skills and time will be required, especially if you are upgrading from older versions of ILMT that require incremental upgrades to get to the latest version.

Updating the IBM Licensing Metric Tool every quarter will ensure your ILMT accurately reports license consumption, but it will be more work for the ILMT administrator and SAM team.  The first time you upgrade will require a project to do the upgrade and develop a set of standardized written procedures for completing the quarterly upgrade and training resources to be ready to do the upgrade every three months.

ILMT Upgrade Support

At Lodestar Solutions, we understand that these changes can be overwhelming and time-consuming.  As a Gold IBM Partner, we have your back and can help you navigate these changes with ease.  Don't let compliance issues cause you to fail an IBM audit or pay hefty fines.  Contact us today to discuss how we can help with your ILMT upgrade.  Email us at Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

ILMT Upgrade Failure Can Have a Major Impact

Recently we had a client contact us that has always had their internal tech teams handle their upgrades.  They had received the IBM love letter announcing they were being audited.  The auditors told them they had failed the IBM audit.  Apparently with their last upgrade they connected the ILMT to their Cognos and Planning Analytics deployments that had PVU licensing, however they had not updated the catalog.  Therefore, the ILMT was not really running.  They thought they were following the rules, but they discovered they failed the IBM audit just because the catalog was not updated, resulting in a compliance cost of $400,000.  Don't let this happen to you.

Luckily the client called Lodestar Solutions, and we were able to help them negotiate with IBM, so they were able to pay the $400,000 but instead of buying software they really didn’t need, they were able to purchase the Analytics Content Hub which was software they already wanted.  Without Lodestar’s engagement they would not have known it was possible to negotiate a settlement that turned the lemons into lemonade.   

Lodestar Solutions Can Help

In conclusion, manual updates of the software catalogue in ILMT are no longer supported, and compliance with IBM sub-capacity licensing requirements will now require more effort and attention. Upgrading your ILMT every quarter will ensure you remain compliant, and at Lodestar Solutions, we are here to help.  Contact us today to discuss your options and avoid compliance issues that could result in significant costs down the road.  Services@lodestarsolutions.com.

Why Renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Support is Crucial for Your Business Success

Why Renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Support is Crucial for Your Business Success
Why Renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Support is Crucial for Your Business Success
Written by Heather L. Cole, March 23rd, 2023

IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics are powerful business intelligence and planning software solutions that are widely used by businesses of all sizes around the world.  These tools help organizations make informed decisions by providing deep insights into their data and enabling them to create accurate and actionable plans.  However, maintaining and maximizing the benefits of these solutions requires ongoing support and access to IBM software updates.  In this blog, we will explore the benefits of renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics support and why partnering with a value-adding reselling partner like Lodestar Solutions for your renewal can be a better option than going direct from IBM.

Access to IBM Analytics Software Updates

One of the key benefits of renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics support is access to IBM software updates.  IBM regularly releases new versions and updates to these solutions to address known issues, enhance existing functionality, and introduce new features.  With an active support renewal agreement, you will gain access to these updates, ensuring that you are always running the latest and most secure version of the software.  This will help you stay ahead of the competition and ensure that you are getting the most value from your investment.  See our latest blogs written by one of our Lodestar Consultants on the lates releases of IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics.

Moreover, access to IBM software updates is crucial to maintain the security and stability of these solutions.  Not that long ago the world discovered the vulnerabilities of Log4J.  IBM and most software companies were affected.  See our blog,  911 – Log4j Security Risk Affects IBM Planning Analytics, Cognos.

By having an active support renewal agreement for IBM support, clients were able to apply fixes. 

IBM continuously monitors and identifies security vulnerabilities in its software and releases security patches to mitigate these vulnerabilities.  Without support renewal, clients risk running outdated and potentially vulnerable software that may be at risk of cyberattacks.  See this link for more reasons on why it is important to renew your IBM Support. 

Ability to Log IBM Support Tickets

Another key benefit of renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics support is the ability to log support tickets.  Inevitably, clients will encounter issues or questions while using these solutions, and it is critical to have timely and effective support to resolve these issues.  With an active support renewal, clients can log support tickets and receive help from IBM's support team.  IBM’s support experts have access to a huge database of reported issues which helps you get a faster resolution.   This support can be invaluable, especially if you are facing a critical issue that is impacting your business operations.  

Moreover, logging support tickets can help clients identify and address issues proactively, minimizing downtime and improving the overall reliability and performance of these solutions.  By renewing support, clients can have peace of mind that they have access to timely and effective support whenever they need it.

Partnering with a Value-Adding Reselling Partner like Lodestar Solutions

While renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics support is critical to maintaining and maximizing the benefits of these solutions, clients can further enhance their experience by partnering with a value-adding reselling partner like Lodestar Solutions.

Private User Group

Lodestar Solutions provides all support renewal clients access to Lodestar Solutions’ Private Client only User Groups held quarterly.  These events are virtual through Zoom and allows clients to connect with other users, share best practices and tips, and learn about new features and enhancements.  This is a great opportunity for clients to network with other users and gain valuable insights into how other organizations are using these solutions.  Mike Bernaiche and Heather Cole lead these events and always inspire and energize attendees.  For clients that can’t make the live events, Lodestar offers access to their client only library of user group recordings.

Licensing Reviews

Additionally, Lodestar Solutions provides regular licensing reviews to ensure clients are compliant and in the optimal licensing model.  This is important because non-compliance can lead to legal issues and hefty fines, which can negatively impact the bottom line.  Let’s be honest, IBM Licenses can be confusing!  What the Heck is a PVU anyway?  See our blog, What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU?  But don’t let the licensing frustrate you.  Lodestar’s team has been decoding IBM Analytic licensing for decades and can hep you understand what you own.

Lodestar also evaluates clients’ licenses to see if IBM has released a new licensing model that is more advantageous for the client.  This ensures that clients are only paying for what they need and are not overspending on unnecessary licenses.  

In the event a client receives an audit letter from IBM, Lodestar Solutions will answer any questions and help ensure you are ready for the audit.

Client Discounts on Technical Upgrades

Furthermore, Lodestar Solutions offers a discount on technical upgrade consulting.  This can be particularly helpful when clients need to upgrade to the latest version of these solutions but may not have the internal expertise or available resources to do so. 

Lodestar Solutions offers clients upgrade bundles to help clients ensure they are on the latest release.  For more information see our earlier blog Solving the IBM Cognos Upgrade Challenge, or email Services@lodestarsolutions.com to schedule a discussion of your unique situation.

Renewing Your IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics Support with Lodestar Solutions

By partnering with Lodestar Solutions, clients can save money, while ensuring a smooth and successful upgrade.  Lodestar Solutions’ clients know they are not alone and that someone has their back.  Lodestar Solutions has a team of experienced and certified consultants who can provide ongoing support and help clients address any issues or questions they may have.  By partnering with Lodestar Solutions, clients can focus on their core business while relying on an experienced partner to help them get the most out of their IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics solutions.

In Conclusion

Renewing IBM Cognos and Planning Analytics support is critical to maintaining and maximizing the benefits of these solutions.  With an active support renewal, clients can access IBM software updates and log support tickets, ensuring they have access to the latest features and timely support.  But by partnering with a value-adding reselling partner like Lodestar Solutions, you can take your analytics to an entirely new level.  So, let’s chat about your support renewal!  Email us at Renewals@lodestarsolutions.com and set up a complimentary call about your support needs.

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

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