IBM License for Development and Test Environment

“You always need an IBM license, including Development and Test”

It is a common misconception that you don’t need a license for IBM products deployed for development or test purposes.

This is incorrect.  Some vendors don’t charge for products deployed into Development and Test, but IBM do.

IBM Non-Production Licenses

For many of their products there’s a specific non-production part number. It is significantly cheaper (~50%) than the production version.

If there is not a specific Non-Production license option then you will need to get a production license.

IBM License options for Development and Test

When licensing Development and Test environments you can use either Authorized User or  PVU, compare costs before purchasing.

If you have only a few users Authorized User is an obvious choice. For large environments and where there are multiple projects PVU makes sense.  Where testing is outsourced you may find PVU to be a cheaper option but also a lower compliance risk as tracking users from a third party can be very difficult.

Creating a non-production node or cluster with several virtual machines is also a consideration. Several projects can have test environments allowing you to squeeze more value from your investment.

Product Specific License Rules for Development and Test

Some products, for example Informix Warehouse Enterprise Edition or DB2 have specific rules for how they are licensed in a non-production scenario.  You should check the License Information documents (LI) for the specific rules that apply to the product and version you have deployed.

Check the License Information documents for the specific rules that apply to the product and version you have deployed.

Cold, Warm and Hot Standby Licenses

In most scenarios IBM do not require a license for Cold and Warm standby systems.  Development and Test systems do not fall into this category.  They are considered by IBM to be “doing work” so do not qualify as cold or warm standby.  Even here you have exceptions e.g.  MQ Idle Standby or in the case of DB2 the 100 PVU for non-prod.

Staging Environments

Staging Environments, where the environment is almost an exact replica of production for testing purposes may still require a production licenses even when a non-production option is available. You should check the License Information documents (LI) to see if there are specific rules that apply to Staging for the product and version you have deployed.

Temporary Additional Use Policy

Migrating production systems from one environment to another and testing that migration is a special case.  It is covered by the Temporary Additional Use policy.  Your existing production license can be extended to cover the new environment for 90 days to allow migration.   If you want longer you need to negotiate an extension with IBM.


You will need an IBM license for all environments including Development and Test but there can be a number of approaches to how you cover it.  A little planning and knowing the IBM licensing rules can ensure your development and test environments are correctly licenses for the minimum investment.

If you’d like advice on how to best license your development and test environments, please email us at