Steps to Mitigate Your Risk of Failing an IBM Cognos License Audit


Do you currently own IBM Cognos BI, TM1, or SPSS licenses? As a Business Analytics Coach at Lodestar Solutions, I advise clients where the risk factors are in all aspects of their Cognos implementation. IBM licensing, as with any software licensing, comes with a risk.  IBM reserves the right to audit your licenses and the biggest exposure I see for clients is that they did not purchase enough BI, TM1 or SPSS licenses for their users and consultants. Yes, you need to own a license for your consultants! We will now give you some tips so you can limit your worry about an IBM Cognos license audit.

IBM Cognos licensing models (Cognos Express and Cognos Enterprise) come in two main flavors: user based with “Authorized User” and capacity based with “Processor Value Unit (PVU)”. Please note that there are other IBM licensing models but I will focus on the most common.  Authorized User is the most common model, especially for power users or modelers. A PVU model, conversely, is common in larger BI deployments and required for TM1 along with authorized users.

Most consultants are brought onboard to develop models or reports, create framework packages and basically be a power user. They hopefully coach your team to be power users.  Since most power user licenses like the BI Admin & the TM1 Modeler are sold as authorized user, we will focus on the definition given by IBM.

“Authorized user

“Authorized User is a unit of measure by which the Program can be licensed. An Authorized User is a unique person who is given access to the Program. The Program may be installed on any number of computers or servers and each Authorized User may have simultaneous access to any number of instances of the Program at one time. Licensee must obtain separate, dedicated entitlements for each Authorized User given access to the Program in any manner directly or indirectly (for example: via a multiplexing program, device, or application server) through any means. An entitlement for an Authorized User is unique to that Authorized User and may not be shared, nor may it be reassigned other than for the permanent transfer of the Authorized User entitlement to another person.

For more license definitions see

In other words, every user needs to have their own license! This includes your consultants regardless if they are IBM Consultants, an IBM Partner like Lodestar, or an independent.  Yes, as partners we pay to have access to the software through our partnership but it prohibits us from using our licenses in your environment.


  1. Review the users that are set up with logins to your Cognos system and evaluate what access they need.
  2. Determine what license relates to their access. Lodestar can help you with this or check out our licensing video.
  3. Compare your license needs to your IBM Cognos license entitlements. You IBM Cognos support renewal bill will have your entitlements or email Lodestar to get a copy of them.
  4. If you have Authorized User licensing and don’t have enough, you are at risk and need to do one of two things. Either delete users or purchase additional IBM Cognos Licenses. For a competitive quote from Lodestar, contact us and we will help review your licenses and quote any licenses you need.
  5. If you have Cognos BI PVU licenses, determine what functionality your consultants need. This will govern the license they need. The grid below is provided to help you and is subject to change by IBM.   
Don't risk an IBM Cognos License Audit
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Please note that the BI Analytic user now includes Report Studio so the consultants may be covered under your PVU BI Analytic User license.

If you're looking for competitive quotes on IBM Cognos licenses or have specific questions about a possible IBM Cognos licensing audit, feel free to call 813-254-2040 or email

Better yet, if you'd like to get out of the snow and cold, Lodestar is hosting a Cognos Licensing Analysis & Auditing workshop on March 25th, 2016 in sunny Tampa where you can learn more about licensing, auditing and getting more out of what you own. Couple that with our “Destination Dashboard” workshop the prior two days of March 23rd & 24th and it becomes a learning bonanza!

The “Destination Dashboard” workshop will teach you time saving techniques for your projects, ways to make yourself look like your company's analytics rock star, and repeatable methodology that will help you set each of your projects up for massive success.  To register for either workshop, sign up at