Regardless of what type of system you are running, from the largest mainframe to the smallest laptop, you want your system to be available when you need it to get your work done. The data should also be secure from loss or contamination, ensuring confidence in the accuracy of the results. IBM recommends the installation of regular maintenance to proactively avoid problems caused by software defects already known and corrected by IBM.
Preventive service packages
The delivery mechanism and media varies by operating system platform (see the table below) and in some case by the software product, but the idea is the same: to install fixes for bugs (APARs) that may affect the stability of your system or the security of your data BEFORE you experience a problem.
Preventive Service Packages are updated frequently. If you have a stable environment where you never encounter problems, you do not need to install every package. However, we recommend periodic installation, since fixes are nearly always built at the latest maintenance level. Keeping fairly current with service will reduce the volume of change required should you need a fix for a problem you are experiencing. The frequency of these installations will be based on your operating environment. Before making major changes, such as adding new hardware, software or even major applications, you should consider installing maintenance.
There are several types of maintenance. Typically, a fix is a resolution for a specific product defect. A fix is also called a patch, program temporary fix (PTF) or update. A fix pack is a cumulative fix that resolves multiple product defects. It is also referred to as a patch, update or preventive service package. An upgrade is a new version of software with new functions added."
|Operating system/platform||Preventive service package||Method||Packaging||Frequency|
|AIX||Technology Levels (TL) and intermediate Service Packs (SP)
See the IBM AIX Operating System Service Strategy Details and Best Practices.
|Fix Central||An AIX TL is an accumulation of fixes, new device support and programming enhancements.
TLs will receive maintenance via SPs for 2 years beginning with AIX 5.3 TL6 and
An AIX SP is an accumulation of fixes on top of its corresponding TL.
|Approximately semi-annual for Technology Levels
Approximately 8-12 weeks for SPs
|i5OS and OS/400||CUM CD-ROM, Group PTFs, Service Packs, HIPER PETs||Fix Central||CD-ROM of recommended service||3-8 per year depending on the age of the release|
|z/OS||Recommended Service Upgrade (RSU)||Customer orders by SMP/E Internet Retrieval Service, ServiceLink, ShopzSeries, Support Portal or phone||All fixes for one SREL (MVS, CICS, IMS, or NCP) for a customer number since the last order, with IBM recommendations (RSU) and Enhanced HOLDDATA||Available monthly, recommended quarterly|
|VM||Recommended Service Upgrade (RSU)||Customer orders by ServiceLink, ShopzSeries or phone||Cumulative IBM recommended Service preapplied and prebuilt||2-4 times per year|
|VSE||FSU Tape||Customer orders by phone or from VSE Home Page||List of recommended PTFs||every 2-3 months|
|Fast Service Upgrade||Customer orders via ShopzSeries||Complete system with all PTFs applied||every 6-12 months|
|Middleware should align with the platform on which it runs, see the specific product support page for details|
|Not all options are available in all geographies|
Fix Central makes it simpler to find the fixes from IBM, you can search by product, operating system, release, or even by APAR ID or fix ID. IBM product teams are in the process of adopting this delivery option, so if the fix you want is not available through Fix Central, it will be available on the product support page.
Fix list for High Impact APARs
IBM also maintains a list of fixes for High Impact APARs that should be conscientiously installed between fix pack installations, depending on the applicability to your environment. These APARs are categorized as "HIPER" which means the problems they describe and fix are in one or more of the following categories:
To locate more information, navigate to the support page for a particular product and search on "fix list."
Stay informed with automated alerts
We know it's hard to stay informed. That's why we have a system that will e-mail you when new fixes or alerts come out. You create a profile indicating what kinds of information you're interested in, so you only receive the information you're looking for. There are different types of automated information:
Support Subscriptions can be set up via My Notifications
Allows you to receive security advisories and alerts that maintenance fixes are available. See the website for the complete list of what you can sign up for. The basic free service is extremely helpful, but you can also choose to expand the capabilities of this service. For System z, information about Security / Integrity APARs and the ability to receive notifications can be found at http://www.vm.ibm.com/security/aparinfo.html
Plan Upgrades More Efficiently
Check the IBM Software Product Lifecycle link from http://www.ibm.com/software/info/supportlifecycle at least once every quarter for 12-month advance notification of End of Service dates or links to IBM announcement letters. With that information, you can be more proactive and efficient in planning product upgrades.
System z Help
Enhanced PSP?? SMP/E Internet Retrieval Service?? Stand-alone Dump Best Practices?? Get up to speed in the z/OS Service section of IBM Education Assistant.