IBM - Software Support Handbook - Practices

Software Support Handbook


IBM Software Support Lifecycle policy

The IBM Software Support Lifecycle policy specifies the length of time support will be available for IBM software from when the product is available for purchase to the time the product is no longer supported. IBM software customers can track how long their version and release of a particular IBM software product will be supported and will be able to effectively plan their software investment, without any breaks in support.

Most system z software products have a three year support period and provide advance notice of withdrawal from support via an announcement letter. Discontinuance of program service for the last release in a version of a software product is an indication of IBM's expectation that customers will not experience a high level of trouble due to program defects. When service is discontinued, corrections to known problems remain available, but the development team is redirected to other work, and no new, tested corrections will be generated for general use. Known problems may be reviewed and ordered via electronic vehicles such as the internet (e.g, however support provided by the IBM Client Support representatives, will be discontinued. At discontinuance of program service, associated services terminate as well, e.g. IBM Support Line and SoftwareXcel. The IBM Customer Agreement (ICA) for monthly license charge products (mainframe) provides information on notification requirements for discontinuance of program services.

For distributed software products (IBM software that is licensed under the International Program License Agreement, IPLA): Starting in February 2008 the majority of Lotus, Information Management, Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere branded  IPLA products have been announced with an Enhanced Support Lifecycle which provides support for a minimum of five years, beginning at the date the product is available for purchase (general availability date).

Products with a Standard Support Lifecycle policy provide support for all products for a minimum of three years, beginning at the date the product is available for purchase (general availability date). When service is discontinued, corrections to known problems remain available, but the development team is redirected to other work, and no new, tested corrections will be generated for general use. Known problems may be reviewed and ordered via electronic vehicles such as the internet (e.g., however support provided by the IBM Client Support representatives, will be discontinued.

Note: Some IBM products may not adhere to these enhanced or standard policies. Products not adhering to these policies include but are not limited to IBM Software that is sold "as is", products recently acquired by IBM, which may still adhere to legacy lifecycle agreements, and some operating system software (example AIX VXX on pSeries servers) which have their own policy.  The AIX Best Practices for system maintenance have been consolidated into a single PDF document for your convenience.  You can reference this document at

To obtain the most accurate lifecycle information for your product, subscribe to RSS updates and view the lifecycle dates under the product lifecycle A-Z list visit:

IBM may modify this policy at any time, and will communicate the modification and any exceptions via a product announcement letter, or in a general policy announcement.

Support Extensions

Support Extensions are accommodations for Customers who are unable to migrate to a supported software product release within the time provided. IBM will offer Support Extensions for the distributed platform middleware products with an Enhanced Support Lifecycle policy for a minimum period of 3 years following the product's end of support date. Support Extensions for the distributed platform middleware products and zSeries platform IPLA products with Standard Support Lifecycle policy for a minimum period of 2 years following the product's end of support date. Support Extensions for the operating system (Systems i, p, and z) products will continue to be handled on an individual product basis.

To request support extension please contact your IBM Sales Representative.

IBM middleware support on unsupported operating systems

IBM Software Support will provide support for IBM middleware, assuming that middleware is still within its support period. That support will continue normally until such time that the back-level operating system is identified as a probable cause of the problem or a contributing factor, at which time you may be asked to recreate the problem on a supported level of the operating system.

Third party software and Open Source software

Third party software or code is included or bundled with some of our IBM offerings. This code is included for your convenience, but is not considered part of the IBM program. These non-IBM programs are licensed directly by their providers. You agree to use the non-IBM programs under the provider's terms and conditions. These are provided in the IBM licensing agreement which accompanies the IBM offering at time of purchase.

Because this software is included or bundled with our IBM offerings, IBM does testing to ensure the Third Party products will work with IBM programs and function appropriately. Based on this, IBM Software support will diagnose problems concerning customer problems utilizing the knowledge of how our IBM offerings work with the Third Party software. Once we have concluded that the IBM program is working correctly, but the issue still exists, IBM must refer you, the customer, to the Third Party vendor for further diagnosis.

IBM provides these non-IBM programs without any warranties or representation, including, but not limited to, the warranty of non-infringement and the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Under no circumstances will IBM be liable for any direct or indirect damages, including without limitation, lost profits, lost savings, or any incidental, special, or other economic consequential damages, even if IBM is informed of their possibility. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above exclusion or limitation may not apply to you.

IBM does not possess the in-depth technical skills to diagnose Third Party software problems. We must refer our customers to those Third Party software vendors for technical support when we diagnose the problem is not with IBM Software.

A special case of the above is open source software which may be included as part of the solutions IBM provides. Because this code is owned by the open source community and not by IBM, it will be identified in the license materials or in an attachment to the license materials as "unwarranted". Because the code is not IBM's, there are no expressed or implied warranties or indemnification. However, like the third party software described above, IBM does testing so that we are comfortable our programs will work with the Open Source software and function as they were intended. Like the case of the Third Party software, IBM software support will attempt to diagnose suspected defects using our knowledge of the interaction of IBM code and the open source software. In some cases we may even have the source code and may be able to provide work-arounds for reported problems, however the final arbiter over whether a supported fix can be provided may belong to the open source community (hence, the "unwarranted" designation).

Submitting software requirements

The most effective vehicle available to provide IBM software development your software requirements is to attend one of IBM's technical conferences. One of the primary objectives of user groups such as GUIDE, SHARE, COMMON, or the TECHNICAL INTERCHANGE is to collect user requirements for future releases of our software products. Technical conferences provide an excellent opportunity for you to discuss requirements directly with our development teams.

If you do not have the opportunity to attend user group meetings or would simply prefer not to wait until the next meeting, your local sales team can input your requirements into our requirements database. From there, they go directly to our software development teams who are responsible for evaluating the requirements and prioritizing those accepted for inclusion into future product releases.

Exchanging data with IBM

Our software support specialists may request that you send IBM the problem information, systems data or test cases, etc., or that our support specialists be able to view it with you electronically. To accomplish this, you may be offered several options by the IBM support specialist. By the terms and conditions of the applicable support agreements: (i) this information will be non-confidential (for example, not labeled "your company confidential"); and (ii) you should not supply IBM with any personally-identifiable information (whether in data or other form). You will be responsible for reasonable costs and other amounts that IBM may incur relating to any such information mistakenly provided to IBM or the loss or disclosure of such information by IBM, including those arising out of any third party claims.

Once your documentation is completely received by IBM approved means, IBM will use it only for the purposes for which it was provided - that is, to fix defects or to support IBM products or services. We will not disclose it to other parties, except to contractors of IBM who we may use to help us fix defects or provide support; and we will delete, destroy or return it when it is no longer required. If you elect to have us return physical media, you will be responsible for arranging for return transport of the media. IBM will provide the tapes to your designated carrier at the IBM location, but otherwise will have no responsibility/liability for return of the media."

For more information on exchanging information with IBM, please refer to the Service Users License Agreement at

If you and the IBM support specialist agree, you may decide to send your problem information or test cases to IBM. There are several approved methods and tools that can be used. Please refer to the document Exchanging Information with IBM Technical Support, for more information. The IBM support specialist working with you can help you set up the transfer.

You need to understand and acknowledge that IBM may use its global resources, including but not limited to, IBM Affiliates and personnel located in various countries, for the delivery of service and services. By sending us problem information, you warrant that none of the Customer Data exported to, or otherwise accessible by, IBM is controlled as a defense article under the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) or under any other country's laws or regulations.

Support terms


Additional references

Handbook in PDF format

The handbook is also available as a PDF-formatted document. The current version is dated March, 2014

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