100 Tech Tips: #85 Vocabulary you'll probably face during Problem Determination Support
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During the process of Problem Determination with IBM Support Team, you will probably listen to the terms APAR and FixPack. As follows, an explanation for them:
What is an APAR?
An Authorized Program Analysis Report (APAR) documents and tracks software defects reported by you, the IBM customer. Support Team creates an APAR when it determines that a problem that a customer is experiencing is a suspected defect.
After an APAR is a created, a corresponding Software Problem Report (SPR) is created. Any SPR with a related APAR is a customer reported defect, while any SPR without an APAR is an internally reported defect that either the customer has not experienced or reported yet.
APARs contain information about a single defect that one or more customers have experienced. The APARs listed in a Fix List are reported customer defects that have been corrected in a release or that are planned for a future maintenance release.
If you have been given an APAR number to track a reported defect, you can find information about the defect through the Product Fix List.
APARs have unique identifiers. For example, "IY53671" and "JR19727". Each APAR is specific to a particular version of a product (for example, DB2 version 8 or DB2 version 7).
The APAR process
The first step in the APAR process is that a Level-2 representative from the support organization enters an APAR containing a description of your problem into the RETAIN® system. If you have a means of getting round the problem, details of this are entered as well. Your name is also entered, so that your support organization knows who to contact if the service team need to ask anything further about the APAR documentation.
At this stage, you are given an APAR number. This number is always associated with the APAR and its resolution and, if a code change is required, is associated with the fix as well.
The service team may ask for additional backup documentation, normally via the Level-2 representative. The specific documentation required will vary from problem to problem, and depends on what information has already been supplied during the PMR stage.
During the investigation, you can ask your support organization at any time about how your APAR is progressing, particularly if it is a problem of high severity.
What are the FixPaks?
A FixPak contains updates and fixes for problems (Authorized Program Analysis Reports, or "APARs"). These APARs address problems found during testing at IBM(R), as well as fixes for problems reported by customers.
FixPaks are cumulative. This means that the latest FixPak for any given version of the product contains all of the updates from previous FixPaks for the same version of the product. It is recommended that you keep your environment running at the latest FixPak level to ensure problem-free operation.
Viewing APAR content
Every FixPak is accompanied by a document, an APAR list, which lists the APARs contained in the FixPak. The full description of the APAR can be found on the IBM Products Support website for all available platforms.