Welcome back everyone, it's time for some more POWER firmware maintenance fun facts! My co-worker, and POWER firmware maintenance extraordinar, Adriana, co-wrote today's blog with me.
Power Firmware Maintenance New Naming Nomenclature
As discussed in a previous blog, firmware updates come in two flavors: Release and Service Pack. The firmware team averages 2 releases a year with the first service pack planned for 3 months after each release, and follow-on service packs every 6 months. Therefore, keeping track of all the firmware releases can be a challenge for the user and the development team if a common naming nomenclature is not in place.
Issues with the 'old' firmware naming nomenclature include:
- Different internal and external naming for Major Releases. Ex: FW7.3 vs 730.
- Different internal and external naming for Service Packs. Ex: 7.3.5 vs 730_078.
- Limited flexibility to name special Service Packs.
- Inconsistent naming of Service Packs. Ex: 7.3.4 followed by 184.108.40.206
Identifying the firmware level that a system is running on is critical to determine if an issue has been fixed, and also to be able to accurately debug any failures. Having an inconsistent firmware naming nomenclature can delay response time while the system's firmware level is being "translated".
To avoid confusion and lost time (and because it makes sense!), a consistent firmware naming nomenclature was created.
Old external convention (ex: 730_078_035):
XXX = Major Release Level
YYY = Service Pack Level
ZZZ = Last disruptive Service Pack Level
New external and internal convention (ex: 760.10):
XXX = Major Release Level
YY = Service Pack Number
The new naming convention is available with the 2H2012 HMC 770 release and the 760 Firmware release.
For those of you that really like the old convention, it will continue to be displayed in the user-viewable panels such as HMC and ASMI! (Well, it was done primarily for backward compatibility). The firmware levels that support the new naming nomenclature will display the new convention followed by the old convention in parenthesis:
Service Pack Severity Classification, including HIPER SPs
In addition to having a specific name (old or new), Service Packs are categorized by the severity of system issues they address. The categories are:
- NEW: New Features and Functions. This is considered a New Release level for a product.
- PE (Programming Error): This Service Pack addresses minor issues. It can be installed at convenience.
- ATT (ATTention): This Service Pack addresses low impact and low potential issues. It should be installed at earliest convenience.
- SPE (SPEcial attention): This Service Pack addresses high impact but low potential issues. It should be installed at earliest convenience.
HIPER (High Impact / PERvasive): This Service Pack addresses high impact and/or pervasive issues with significant customer impacts, and therefore should be installed as soon as possible. Because "high" and "significant" customer impacts are not standard measurable units, the following guidelines are used to determine if a Service Pack needs to be marked as HIPER. A potential HIPER Service Pack is then reviewed by our POWER Firmware Distinguished Engineer. The general guidelines include:
Pervasiveness: The addressed issue:
- Already has occurred in the field or it is likely to occur three or more times in the field.
- Affects a large number of machines.
- Occurs during a commonly used feature or function.
High Impact: The addressed issue can lead to:
- Data Integrity exposure
- System outage
- Loss of major resource or function
- Significant performance impact
- No reasonable workaround exists to eliminate or reduce the exposure.
- Team Agreement: Gather input from Development, Test, Client Care, and Service.
- NOTE: Service Packs may be categorized as "HIPER/Non-Pervasive" or "HIPER/Pervasive" based on impact and likelihood of occurrence. "My Notifications" and the Service Pack's README will provide details on the most susceptible configuration &/or use case.
- Pervasiveness: The addressed issue:
Firmware updates are important! We've put a huge focus recently on ensuring proper classification of our service packs so please keep a close eye on them when they come out. An easy way to stay connected is by subscribing to the "My Notifications" tool, which provides a means of staying informed on critical firmware-related events (e.g. HIPER notifications), when a new Service Pack is available, and other news and technical notes. See the link in the "Links and Tools" section.
Links and Tools
Fix Central: Location for all Power Firmware updates.
Fix Level Recommendation Tool (FLRT): A tool which compares current levels of firmware and software and recommends appropriate levels to update to.
Firmware Overview and Recommendations Presentation: A presentation from our Product Engineering team with more details and links
My Notifications: Tool that provides customers with a means of staying informed with firmware-related events.