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Written by Michael Felt   
Or, AIX 5L release and service delivery strategy modifications

IBM is changing it's update policy for AIX. The short message: A technology level is no longer terminated with a CSP (Concluding Service Pack) but will continue to be supported as a AIX level for two years after the start of a new technology level.

The modification to support is for AIX 5.3 only and the first TL to be supported for two years is AIX 5.3 TL 6 which is planned to be released later this year. All previous TL releases, including the current ones will receive a CSP and be supported for one year after the release of the CSP.

The fine print

All statements regarding IBM's future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice, and represent goals and objectives only.

Transition to the new strategy

The AIX 5L OS release and service strategy will be implemented in 2007 for AIX 5L Version 5.3 starting with the Technology Level 6 update. Technology Level 6 will be the first Technology Level update to be supported for up to two years. This new release and service strategy will not apply to previous versions of AIX such as AIX 5L Version 5.2, or to Licensed Program Products.

Previous Technology Level updates for AIX 5L V5.3 such as Technology Level 4 (released April 2006) and Technology Level 5 (released August 2006) will be supported for at least one year under the previous release and service strategy. A Concluding Service Pack has already been released for Technology Level 4 (in August, 2006) and a Concluding Service Pack for Technology Level 5 is planned in the first half of 2007.

The rest of the story

Longer support for each Technology Level

The 2007 release strategy will extend the support for each Technology Level update for up to two years from the introduction of the update. This means that clients with a Software Maintenance Agreement for the AIX 5L OS will be able to contact IBM support for defect support during that two year period without having to move up to the latest Technology Level update.

For example, a Technology Level introduced in the first half of 2007 will be supported into the first half of 2009. Since each Technology Level will be supported for up to two years and IBM plans to release two Technology Level updates for each AIX 5L release per year, there will eventually be four supported Technology Levels per AIX 5L release.

There are always variations in the release dates of Technology Level updates from year to year, so some Technology Levels will be supported for slightly more than two years and some will be supported for slightly less than two years. A two year service life for each Technology Level is an objective, not an absolute limit.

The service life of Technology Levels will also be limited by the end of service life for the underlying AIX 5L release.

The intent of this strategy is to provide clients running the AIX 5L OS with support for software problems without requiring an upgrade to the latest Technology Level. However, there may be cases where, due to architectural changes or the pervasive nature of a particular fix, you must upgrade to a later Technology Level update or to a later AIX 5L release to resolve a software issue.

Improved AIX 5L serviceability

One of the principal changes in the AIX 5L OS service and release strategy is the manner in which you may obtain fixes for the AIX 5L OS. Now, you will be able to use the same methodology and fix packages throughout the entire release.

You can maintain your AIX 5L operating system by installing Service Packs (SP), Program Temporary Fixes (PTF) or Interim Fixes for the entire support life of the Technology Level update. This will improve the manageability of the AIX 5L OS software by reducing complexity and providing more consistency.

In the past, the Concluding Service Pack was used to provide a baseline for support for the second phase of support. Since the updated strategy uses a consistent service methodology throughout the entire service life of a Technology Level update, the Concluding Service Pack is no longer needed or supplied by IBM.

Support for some hardware on previous Technology Levels

Throughout the history of the AIX® operating system, support for new hardware was only included in the latest Technology Level (or Recommended Maintenance Level). This required an upgrade to the latest service level if you wished to integrate new systems into your computing environment. This requirement often caused difficulty in rolling out new hardware into a client's existing environment.

The new release and service strategy will allow easier integration of new hardware into your environment by supporting most new hardware on previous Technology Levels.

AIX 5L OS support for new hardware is typically broken into two categories: support and exploitation.

    To support new hardware, the AIX 5L OS has to undergo relatively minor changes to recognize the new hardware at boot time. If the AIX 5L OS does not recognize the new hardware, it may fail to boot or only run in a degraded mode. The changes to support new hardware typically include updating a table that is referenced at boot time to determine the processor type and to create new boot media to recognize new I/O.

    To exploit new hardware, the AIX 5L OS may have to undergo more pervasive changes to take full advantage of the new hardware. This could result in changes to kernel components such as the Virtual Memory Manager (VMM) to exploit the new page sizes supported by a new processor. Exploitation of new hardware offerings will require installing the latest Technology Level update or moving up to the latest AIX 5L OS release.

Additional information

The IBM service and support best practices for UNIX® servers Web page at Service and support best practices includes white papers that provide additional information on the AIX 5L release and service strategy and best practices for managing AIX 5L and System p™ servers.
 

 
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