Rationalizing the Procurement Process, Part 1

Should you use eConfig or Passport Advantage?

Should you use eConfig or Passport Advantage?

Trial and Licensed Software

Don’t let the questions about fulfillment deter you from getting started with the tools; product fulfillment systems don't even come into play during the trial period. Everybody can get trial versions of the Rational products. Just visit the appropriate IBM website and download the software: RDP here, RBD here, RAD here. These are fully functioning time-limited versions of the tools. Use them, evaluate them and, if you like them, then purchase your licenses. However, the fulfillment bifurcation comes into play again once you want to move beyond the trial stage.

First, you must purchase the software. Your options will depend on the product fulfillment system. With AAS, the process is much simpler. You have a few basic options, only one authorization scheme and no trade-up discounts. (I said simpler, not necessarily better.) I haven't covered authorization schemes (termed "license metrics" by IBM). I’ll cover these in detail in Part II of this article. The primary difference today is between authorized users (one license per person) and floating users (one license shared by multiple people on a timeshare basis). Floating user licenses are only available via PPA. Floating licenses may or may not be an issue for you. Price, however, is an issue that affects everyone, and while the full purchase price is the same for the two processes, some discounted trade-ups (for example, from ADTS to RDi) are available only through PPA. This could be a powerful argument for using the PPA channel.

Once you’ve purchased your software, activate your trial software. You don't install a new version; you simply apply an activation key. But getting that key is a little different depending on your procurement process.

For PPA, it's relatively simple; start at the Rational License Key Center. Take the option to get license keys and activation kits, which immediately takes you out of the IBM website and into their outsourced licensing partner, Flexera. At that point, you have options to look at several instructional videos or go right to the download process by selection a product line. Figure 1 shows the screen as it exists if you have an entitlement for RDi-SOA. You'll see links for RBD, RDP and RDi-SOA, which might be a little confusing; I'll address that in more detail in an article covering the potential issues with the Rational procurement processes. However, the point is that you simply click on the appropriate link, download the activation kit and unzip it to get at the activation file (specifically a JAR file). Start Installation Manager, point to the activation file, apply it and you're done.

The AAS process handles it a little bit differently. There’s no website to download just the activation kit. Instead, you must get the entire product from ESS in a special configuration that includes the activation kit. This configuration can be either downloaded from the ESS website or you can order physical media (for a not-exactly nominal fee; I believe it's around $100). If you download from ESS, it's a large download most of which is unnecessary (you've already installed the software, after all) but at least it doesn't cost you anything other than bandwidth.

A very important aspect of software licensing is maintenance. Without going into too much detail (more in Part 2), I'll point out the primary differences. PPA maintenance (S&S) is always one year at a time, and you get a renewal notice 90 days prior to your expiration date. AAS SWMA has both one-year and three-year options, and you don’t get a renewal notice. This may be one of the biggest drawbacks to the AAS channel: not only are the Rational products not part of your normal system SWMA, but you also don't get notified when they're about to expire.

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design Inc. Joe can be reached at

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