Back in February, 2017, IBM announced “Multi-Version Measurement” for all its z/OS and z/VSE customers. It’s available now. If you are a z/OS or z/VSE licensee, here’s the quick “executive summary”: order every new IBM software release for all your licensed IBM products through IBM ShopZ.

To elaborate, why do I recommend an “order everything” strategy? It’s simple. MVM abolishes the infamous “Single Version Charge” (SVC) period. Let’s suppose for example you currently run DB2 Version 11 for z/OS. IBM released DB2 Version 12 not too long ago. Before MVM, if you ordered DB2 Version 12 you would start a 12 month SVC “countdown clock.” You would have 12 months to migrate from DB2 11 to DB2 12, machine by machine, Sysplex by Sysplex, while paying only for the new version. By the 13th month, if you had not completed your migration, IBM had the right to send you a bill for both DB2 versions based on your peak four hour rolling average utilization of each version. A lot of people mistakenly thought that the DB2 bill would double in that event. No, that didn’t happen. Not often, anyway. However, some materially higher charge was likely if you exceeded the SVC period.

I think the original intention behind SVC was a noble one. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep pushing forward, to keep delivering new and better software versions with new and better capabilities. That makes business sense for all concerned, including especially software consumers. In practice (and guessing a bit), SVC might have had the opposite effect to some extent. Migrations take however long they take, even with intense focus and discipline. With a firm deadline, many mainframe software customers understandably did not want to order new versions until they were absolutely sure they were ready. A journey starts with the first step. If you don’t take that first step, you don’t start your journey. If you delay your first step, your at least arrive at your destination later.

Now? No problem! SVC is dead, thank goodness. You can order any/all new versions of IBM mainframe software products right away, and you should. For Monthly License Charge (MLC) products you already license, go right ahead. For One-Time Charge (OTC, a.k.a. IPLA) products, you’ll need to have active Subscription and Support (S&S) to be entitled to new versions. With that understandable caveat, go right ahead. Order every new version that IBM introduces, as soon as IBM introduces it. There’s no additional charge for electronic delivery through IBM ShopZ. (There may be an additional charge for ordering on media, so please avoid that. IBM is steadily removing tape media delivery anyway, in favor of DVD media and electronic delivery.)

Once you get your new software releases, install them in at least one development/test LPAR (or z/VM guest) as soon as you can, and start exploring. Your journey can begin without any financial deadline pressure….

….There are still some non-financial deadlines, of course. IBM still has support lifecycles for its products. When there’s a new version, the previous version won’t be IBM supported forever. Please don’t run previous versions forever, or even for very long if you can avoid it. MVM should mean that you move forward faster, not slower, so that you stay at least reasonably current with your software releases. There are also “value deadlines.” The sooner you can put new capabilities to productive use, the sooner you can derive business benefits from them.

Several years ago IBM removed another objection to ordering new software versions: price increases. In the past, IBM sometimes increased the unit prices of new software versions but kept the same unit prices on previous versions. Predictably, perversely, many mainframe customers delayed placing orders for the new versions for that reason alone. They tried to delay version upgrades as long as possible, to delay the corresponding price increases as long as possible. Never mind that the new versions were often more resource efficient than the old versions. Nowadays that doesn’t happen. IBM maintains the same unit price across all software versions of the same product. If there’s a unit price increase or decrease, the price change applies to all versions.

MVM could have been “Double-Version Measurement” (DVM), I suppose. It isn’t. Yes, you can run three, four, or however many software versions you want. Multi means multi. As long as you’re licensed for the product, any number of versions is OK. Sometimes that flexibility makes sense, for a while anyway. For example, if you’re a software vendor then maybe you need to maintain at least one LPAR with all IBM supported releases of WebSphere MQ for z/OS, to support your customers at whatever pace they move forward (hopefully reasonably quickly). With MVM, you can do that.

At least as of December, 2017 (it might change), there are a couple exceptions to this general advice, courtesy Chris Horder at Mainline. (Thanks, Chris!) One exception is z/OS Version 1 to z/OS Version 2 if you have z/OS SDSF. The z/OS SDSF element has a slightly higher charge in z/OS Version 2. However, if you’re currently licensing z/OS fonts, it’s highly likely you can discontinue those separate licenses since z/OS Version 2 should include them in the base operating system. Another exception is if you only have a very old COBOL compiler, older than Enterprise COBOL. When you order any Enterprise COBOL there’s a higher charge per MSU compared to the pre-Enterprise COBOL compiler. On the other hand, Enterprise COBOL Version 5 and higher automatically generate SMF Type 89 records for sub-capacity licensing. Also, using Enterprise COBOL Version 5 (or higher) will generate much more efficient code. So you really should upgrade, and the overall financial outcome should be quite favorable. You can double check the “before” and “after” Monthly License Charge (MLC) figures with “your friendly IBM software representative” if you’ve concerned about any such quirks. There don’t seem to be many.

IBM has extended MVM terms to every z/OS and z/VSE licensee around the world. As far as I know there’s nothing to sign. You can (and should) take full advantage of your new MVM freedoms.

Posted in IBM.