SZS Consulting Ltd.
Helping you to spend less on System Z Software

Skills and Resources

Independent data concerning industry standard software license models.

Based on our experience, we have an informed view all of the license models announced by the major vendors in the mainframe area (IBM alone have over 30 metrics), in addition we are familiar with most of the ‘special’ models implemented for specific situations (business or transaction oriented).  We are also knowledgeable in the likely developments for SW licensing over the coming years (variations of sub-capacity, containerisation etc.)

Independent benchmarking of industry software pricing.

One price does not fit all scenarios.  In addition to many different metrics, customer installations vary by size and type.  A customer using 10,000 mips will be unlikely to get the same level of discount as a customer using 100,000 mips.  Notwithstanding that, we are aware of situations where clients have a 50% discount, and others where an 85% discount is used (for the same product/same customer size) -a difference on price paid of 3x. However, even within vendors, some products can attract discounts of 95% whereas others will only ever get 40%.  We are aware of the discount ranges awarded for differing scenarios and product families by the major product vendors and can set an expectation on what might be realistically achieved in a given situation.  More importantly, we can advise on the best argumentation to secure the maximum discount and terms for a given scenario.

Expertise in recommending and evaluating alternate software pricing structures.

We have financial modelling tools and experience which allows us to compare different configuration options (fixed and variable) in order to recommend optimum configurations which deliver lowest cost of ownership.  Beyond that, we are experienced in developing special terms with vendors that are acceptable to both customer and vendor and which enable a more affordable and containable price level moving forward.  Whilst customers simply want a lower price, vendors have to worry about legal, accounting, and compliance issues.   We are very experienced in developing solutions which overcome all the issues from both sides.

Expertise in recommending software tools and products that can be eliminated/consolidated with minimal impact to operations.

Whilst in IBM, David Wilson set up a migration team to swap out ISV products and replace them with IBM products.  Based on this experience, we have significant expertise in identifying tool rationalisation candidates. In our experience over the last 10 years, vendors (including IBM) have successfully sold ‘Enterprise Agreements’ which allowed/encouraged any of their products to be deployed.  In addition, with machine consolidations and company mergers, many IT divisions are now running multiple instances of tools to do the same function (e.g. it is not uncommon to find organisations with 2 schedulers, multiple monitors, AD and PD toolsets, security software etc.)  Whilst vendors do not want you to stop using their products (and in the short term they’ll leverage their position to limit license savings), strategically users need to slim down their portfolio and remove the maintenance burden (financial and labor) from running an over-sized SW stack.  Over time, we have built up a matrix and experience of product equivalence such that we can advise companies on the easy products/vendors to swap out, and where to go for help / tooling to automate the swaps where possible. 

We are also familiar with the effectiveness of the different approaches to standardising a strategic SW stack employed by various organisations across the globe.

Expertise in optimization opportunities and planning and migration to alternative pricing/licensing structures.

Having much experience working inside the largest mainframe software vendor, we are very familiar with the actions vendors take (IBM and ISV) to make it hard to justify (in the short term) migration to alternatives.  A good example is the move from full (installed) capacity to sub-capacity licensing.  Vendors resist the move and then put in terms which protect their revenue streams.  We are skilled in identifying the right argumentation and timing to secure better models, and then to identify potential pitfalls in associated terms

Expertise concerning server software license models involving multi-core processors.

In many aspects, the ‘distributed’ world is playing catch-up with the mainframe world in licensing model.  Vendors have mostly moved from a processor model to ones that measure cores, to ones that measure total processor capacity, to ones that now measure usage of the processors.  As the industry evolves towards cloud based services and ever larger processor complexes the move to a more granular ‘usage’ model is inevitable.  Based on our extensive experience in IBM, we are very familiar with the challenges, issues, opportunities and alternatives available both today and in the next 2 – 3 years.

Expertise in appropriate sub-capacity license models including those based on alternate business metrics.

The largest inhibitor to alternate license models is one of compliance. Both the vendor and the customer have to be able to demonstrate that there is a mechanism to accurately record and report on metrics, and be prepared for this to be externally audited. 

Beyond this, a metric has to genuinely be something that represents the value or usage an organisation makes of a software asset, for example,  does # of customers truly represent the best value metric ( an organisation might get the most business value from DB2 as a result of overnight batch analysis of market data rather than the number of (daytime) customers serviced. )  Choosing the wrong metric can have disastrous consequences for either party.

Finally, there has to be absolute clarity in the contractual definition of the metric.  For example, does the term ‘employee’ include sub-contractors or agency staff?   

We have helped develop business based licensing for airline bookings, banking transactions, utility companies (phone / electric) as well as sub-lpar capacity licensing models for mixed workload environments.

Expertise in software licensing in the commercial market.

We are as experienced as any working on software licensing in the commercial market.  For 10 years whilst working in IBM, David Wilson was consulted on nearly all the significant agreements and terms which involved mainframe software.  He wrote many of the terms and devised many of the IBM licensing schemes (sub-capacity, getting started offerings, parallel sysplex exceptions, and even the recently announced aWLC).

Expertise concerning Total-Cost-of-Ownership from purchase to long-term maintenance.

We have resources with many years experience conducting TCO studies for IBM (in IBM mainframe customers) and independently.   Common projects include platform comparisons (Wintel,  Linux/Unix, Mainframe) to determine the most appropriate ‘fit for purpose’ platform considering both technical and long term costs.  This work involves using complex modelling tools to capture and analyze all aspects of a clients infrastructure.