Portal Express Licensing Explained

If you’re here, you’re wondering what’s the difference between Portal Express, Portal Server, and Web Content Manager (WCM). This post is meant to act as a guide on usage of Portal Express – it does not replace working with your IBM sales and technical contacts.

Portal Express is intended as a small to medium sized business (SMB) deployment. It is not an enterprise deployment, which typically has staging, pre-production, and production. The application code (i.e. Portal and WCM) is the same between Express and the enterprise editions.  The difference is that the Express installation manager will automatically install and configure DB2 for Workgroup as well as Web Content Manager. In the enterprise editions, WCM is a separate package and DB2 is not automatically installed.

So if the code is not different, what is? Licensing and entitlements. Express places limitations and allowances on how the software can be deployed and configured. To understand, review the Portal Express 8.5 License Information Document.

First, notice the Supporting Programs. As the definition states, these are the programs that may be used with Portal Express.

The following are Supporting Programs licensed with the Program:
IBM WebSphere Portal Personalization V8.5
IBM WebSphere Portal Search V8.5
IBM WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment V8.5.5
IBM DB2 Workgroup Server Edition ("IBM DB2") V10.5
IBM Web Content Manager V8.5
IBM Connections Content Manager V4.5
IBM Connections V4.5
IBM Tivoli Directory Integrator Identity Edition V7.1
IBM Security Directory Server V6.3
IBM Web Experience Factory Designer V8.5
IBM Web Experience Factory V8.5
IBM Sametime Limited Use V9.0
IBM Sametime Proxy Server V9.0
IBM Sametime System Console V9.0
IBM Sametime SDK V9.0

This is simply inventory, what software is packaged with the offering. There are restrictions on what you can do with the software. This is found in the Supporting Program Details section.  It begins with the software name, usage restriction, and deployment ratios. I’ll copy a few to illustrate.

Supporting Programs Details
WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment 
- Entitlement: Ratio 1/1 
- Use Limitations: Use by Principal Program
IBM Web Content Manager
- Entitlement: Ratio 1/1
IBM Sametime Proxy Server
- Entitlement Ratio 1/1 
- Use Limitations: Use by Principal Program

In the above, WebSphere Application Server ND is allowed to be used with Portal Express and only Portal Express (i.e. Principal Program). Web Content Manager and Sametime Proxy Server is likewise allowed in a 1:1 ratio. Meaning if you bought 280 PVUs of Portal Express, the machine where Sametime Proxy Server is installed must not exceed 280 PVUs.

There’s more. Review the Permitted Components section and the Prohibited Components section. This will go into more detail on what you can and can not do with the Supporting Programs. For example – and this one is important in the Prohibited section:

- Syndication of Web Content Manager content (of IBM Web Content Manager) with any other
production or authoring server except Web Content Manager Standard Edition.

You may not syndicate from Express to any other environment. You can however syndicate from Web Content Manager Standard Edition (SE) to Portal Express. WCM SE in this example is referred to as the authoring server.

And finally there are Program-unique Terms – specifically Entitlement Limitations.

For any Authorized User entitlements acquired by Licensee, no more than 1000 Users may be
given access to the Program running on any single virtual or physical machine. 

For any PVU entitlements acquired by Licensee, the total PVU rating for the activated
processor cores made available to or managed by the Program on any single virtual or
physical machine cannot exceed 480 PVUs. 
The Program may not be used in either a cloned configuration or in a clustered
configuration except when implementing for purposes of failover. In an Idle Standby
configuration, copy of the program may reside for backup purposes on a machine and is 
started, but is "idling", and is not doing any work of any kind . A server is considered 
"idle" if it is used exclusively for administrative actions that assist in failover

For any Install entitlements acquired by Licensee, Licensee is authorized to use the
Program in an Idle Standby configuration only for the purposes of failover.

There are two ceilings. If you are licensed based on users, no more than 1000 are allowed. If you are licensed based on capacity, no more than 480 PVUs, which is generally 6 processor cores.

I often hear the phrase, “but you can’t cluster Portal Express.”  You can. This is the idle standby part. It is a separate license charge, but it allows us to cluster a primary and standby node for failover purposes. You may not load balance between the two, and you may not route traffic over to the standby node for any purpose other than failover (i.e. maintenance).

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words. Below is the typical Portal Express deployment that includes support for failover and an authoring server.

Portal Express Architecture

4 thoughts on “Portal Express Licensing Explained”

  1. Hi Please can you advise what this restriction refers to in the Portal Express 8.5 license. Permitted Components
    Notwithstanding any provision in the Agreement, Licensee is permitted to use only the following components or functions of the identified Supporting Program:

    – Library (of Communities of IBM Connections)

    Is this restricting the use of Connections to Library only. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated
    Many thanks

    1. Provided is my understanding, and don’t shoot the messenger. The intent was to provide a path forward for Quickr J2EE customers needing document management capabilities in Portal Express. So Express licensing provides entitlement to Connections Content Manager (CCM) to be used in conjunction with the CCM portlet. For CCM to work, Connections is required, which is why you also see Connections entitlement. Admittedly, the license document does a poor job at being specific. (In Portal Server’s document, it clearly states limited use of Profiles and File). If you read Express’s document, it appears that you have full entitlement to Connections. But Connections only exists to support CCM in the limited scope of using CCM portlet.

  2. Hi, a couple of questions, when using the authorized user pricing, is it limited to one server, physical or virtual (one OS image)? If it is one server then the number of cores is unlimited right? Also, can you give me a rough idea of the cost per user when using this licensing scheme?


    1. Authorized User allows a person to access the program in any location deployed. See definition of Authorized User in the License Agreement, “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.”

      In the Authorized User model, the stated limitation is, “For any Authorized User entitlements acquired by Licensee, no more than 1000 Users may be given access to the Program running on any single virtual or physical machine.” There are no limitations on PVU, but logically, it would not be a substantial deployment given the target market for Portal Express is small to medium business.

      Portal Express is sold in 20 packs (groups of 20 users). For any pricing discussion, you can contact me van underscore staub at us dot ibm dot com.

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