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
Property of Lodestar Solutions Inc

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

Separating Authorized User from PVU Users

​Separating Authorized User from PVU Users using Cognos Dispatchers

Many clients have a mix of Cognos BI licenses where they have power users as authorized users that are not restricted by server size and end users that are based on PVU’s which restricts the number of core processors they can leverage. But the question arises, “Is separating authorized user from PVU users difficult?  Can it even be done?  How do I separate my users so the power users can use 32 cores of processing power without exposing me to purchasing PVU licensing for 32 cores for my end users?” Reason being, clients may want to give more power to the “power users” while avoiding extra licensing fees for the end users that are PVU based.  Below I discuss Separating Authorized User from PVU users!

One option is to leverage the Cognos Dispatcher with Routing Rules. The dispatcher serves as the traffic cop to direct requests to the correct server. This would allow you to direct your BI PVU user’s requests to the server that only has the cores for which you own PVU licenses. You can have the dispatcher route the power users that have authorized user rights, therefore are unrestricted in PVUs, to another box that has all the power you need. The result being the “power” users have power, the end users are leveraging the appropriate box and you save money on software or at least reduce the risk of failing an audit. Don’t forget if you have PVU’s and are virtualizing, you may need to have the ILMT tool installed too. (See blog post  about ILMT here.)

Details on the IBM Cognos Dispatcher for the techies in the crowd:

Separating Authorized User from PVU users

“IBM Cognos BI addresses both routing challenges by a software component called the Cognos Dispatcher. The Dispatcher, technically, is a Java Servlet which implies it handles HTML input and generates HTML output. In the case of IBM Cognos BI, the input and output payload is actually using the Simple Object Assess Protocol (SOAP) which again, technically, is XML payload transported over the HTTP protocol.

Each Dispatcher hosts a set of services which are determined by the system components installed in this instance of IBM Cognos BI. The services get registered to the Dispatcher and it's the Dispatcher which controls them. At the same time, the Cognos Dispatcher “knows” which service instances it hosts, hence which types of requests it can serve locally.

When a Cognos Dispatcher is started up, it will register itself with the active Content Manager (CM). It will report the services it hosts and will obtain information about the system from CM. Through this process, each Dispatcher gathers information about all other Dispatchers in the system and the services they host.

While a simple single server environment may be sufficient for testing, production systems usually consist of several installed instances (sometimes called nodes) each running a Dispatcher with its own set of services registered. With multiple nodes, load-balancing and fail-over become possible. The IBM Cognos BI architecture implements this by a logical bus which exists between the Dispatchers on each node. On this logical bus, requests get passed/routed between Dispatchers in a system and eventually to a specific service instance registered with one of the Dispatchers. This process will acknowledge load balancing and service availability.

Clients send requests destined for a certain service to a Dispatcher to get them served. The Dispatchers of a system will ensure the request is routed to an available instance of the requested service which will handle the request and relay back the result to the client.”

Thanks for taking the time to read about Separating Authorized User from PVU users.  Check out this blog on calculating PVU's by clicking here

Note: The information in this blog is for reference purposes and subject to change. Clients may have a unique agreement with IBM; therefore, refer to you IBM Contract for more information.

What the Heck is an IBM Cognos PVU?

Can someone please explain what a PVU is?

PVU, what the heck is this?  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 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. In order 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 PVU license for?

It represents the server license that grants access to the basic server functions through other related user roles.

Do I have to purchase PVU’s for the entire box?

If you want to oversize your hardware for growth you may end up facing a situation where your license cost for PVU’s is a lot more than you expected. To address this issue, IBM allows you to enter a “Sub-capacity” agreement. I highly recommend you check if you have this executed! A “sub-capacity” licensing gives IBM customers who use virtual-server technology the option to license IBM products based only on the PVUs made available to the licensed software, rather than on the total PVU count for that server. Therefore, entering a sub-capacity agreement can result in significantly reduced licensing costs. However, sub-capacity licensing also requires that IBM customers meet some requirements. See

TermsPVU vs. Authorized Users

On some IBM Cognos Licenses, you can purchase either PVU or Authorized User licenses. For example, Enhance Consumer can be purchase either way. Whereas other modules, like TM1, require an Analytic Server license that is Process Value Unit to function.  When you have a choice of Processor value unit or Authorized users for the same license, what’s the difference?The distinction is that when you purchase an Authorized User license, IBM doesn’t care how many core processors you have. They only care how many named users you have. Whereas the PVU model they don’t care how many users you have, they only care about the core processors and their PVU value. The bottom line is you need to have A LOT of users to cost justify the PVU model.

PVU’s and Non-Production Environments

Another important thing to note is when you have authorized users 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. So, no need for Non- Production environment licenses unless there are laws that require you to have it licensed, which is rare.  With PVU licenses, if the users are accessing a Test or a Dev environment, you will need to purchase separate Non-Production PVU licenses. Below is the link to the official licensing of IBM Cognos. You may want to study the Authorized user and Processor Value Unit sections.

To help figure out if you have the correct licensing model, please contact Lodestar Solutions. 813-415-2910

If you want to learn more about calculating PVU's then check out this blog by clicking here.