IBM has launched software to help companies using virtualised systems to bill business departments or external clients more easily, based on consumption of resources.

Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager is based on technology IBM acquired from asset-tracking software company CIMS in January. It allows users to track through a web-based interface consumption of virtual server, storage, network, software and middleware resources. Administrators can measure resource consumption at the company, department or individual level, to bill users based on actual usage.

The software will help address a key barrier to virtualisation, said IBM.

An IBM customer survey conducted this year revealed that "the number one reason among customers not implementing virtualisation is charge back, the ability to accurately allocate cost of shared infrastructure across the enterprise, and addressing organizational barriers and concerns," said Rich Lechner, vice president of virtualisation for IBM.

The tool currently works with VMware's virtualisation software, so that if a customer has x86-based servers running VMware it can measure what portion of the hardware is allocated for a particular application. If an application is transferred to another server using VMware's VMotion technology, IBM's software can track that movement. It does not currently work with other virtualisation platforms, such as those from Microsoft.

The software supports IBM's x86-based servers and its mainframes, and will be available for its Unix-based System p servers later this year.

Pricing for x86-based servers begins at US$599 per box and $75,000 for mainframe customers.