IBM Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy FAQs

IBM Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy FAQs


Q: What is a software support lifecycle policy?

A: The IBM software support lifecycle policy sets forth the minimum length of time technical support will be available. The technical support period begins when the product becomes available for purchase and ends when support is withdrawn (End of Support). Each product, at the version level, has an established support period. The policy also states the minimum length of time that support extensions will be available for purchase after the effective End of Support (EOS) date. The policy also states any unique terms for product defect fixes and the availability of security updates. IBM Support Lifecycle Policy documentation is available at https://www.ibm.com/support/lifecycle/#/

Q: Why did IBM introduce an additional support lifecycle policy?

A: IBM is constantly evaluating changing market needs and client deployment patterns for our software offerings. We introduced the Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy (CD support) to enable clients to receive and install new function much more rapidly than in the past. The policy enhances our ability to continually add/improve product function and allows clients to install these updates in a fast and efficient manner.

Q: When was the Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy announced?

A: This policy was announced on May 24, 2016, the effective date and revised on Feb 16, 2021.

Q: What IBM software is affected by the Continuous Delivery lifecycle policy?

A: IBM on-premises software offering teams may elect to implement CD support when announcing a new product release.

Q: How will IBM announce the transition to this new policy?

A: IBM offering teams that elect to transition to CD support will announce a new product release with the Policy type ‘C’ (Continuous Delivery) designation.

Q: Will all on-premises software products move to this policy?

A: No, individual product and market requirements will determine if moving to CD support is appropriate. Many products will remain on their existing support lifecycle policies, Standard ‘3+2’ or Enhanced ‘5+3’. To verify the lifecycle policy and dates for a specific product, visit the IBM Software support lifecycle website.

Q: How is a client entitled to software technical support referenced in this policy?

A: This support is included for eligible products purchased under the terms of an IBM Client Relationship Agreement (CRA) or the IBM International Passport Advantage Agreement (IPAA). Clients with a current Subscription and Support (S&S) or applicable Software Maintenance (SWM) agreement can take full advantage of technology upgrades and enhancements quickly, subject to their business requirements.

Q: What is a Continuous Delivery update (CD update) package?

A: A CD update package is a release package which contains new product functionality, product maintenance (fixes) and security updates in one easy to install package. New product functionality is not available for previously released CD update packages.

Q: How will fixes be delivered for a CD update package?

A: If a fix is required for a CD update package, the goal is to deliver a fix in the next CD update package. For urgent resolution of problems, an interim fix (iFix) or APAR fix may be provided for the most recent CD update package. New CD update packages will contain fixes identified since the previous CD update package was released.

Q: Do products announced with CD Support follow the standard IBM Version Release Modification Fix (V.R.M.F) format?

A: When a new product is announced with CD Support, the version format will be stated in the product announcement. Product offering teams may choose to follow the standard IBM V.R.M.F format, or may choose to take advantage of other methods, including date-based versioning or Semantic Versioning (Major.Minor.Patch). Products announced with CD Support using the V.R.M.F format do not follow the guidance that a change to the Release level or ‘R’ restarts the standard two-year support term.

Q: What is a Long Term Support Release (LTSR)?

A: An LTSR is a CD update package that will be supported for an extended period. An LTSR may be preferable for clients where frequent functional updates to their environment may not be practical and a longer term deployment is desirable.

Q: How long is an LTSR supported?

A: An LTSR is supported for a minimum of one year. Each product team has the flexibility to state the support duration for an LTSR. The technical support period will not be less than one year and may be up to five years from the general availability date, as determined by product and market requirements. The minimum support duration will be set forth in the IBM product announcement.

Q: How will fixes be delivered for a Long Term Support Release (LTSR)?

A: If a fix is required for a Long Term Support Release, an interim fix (iFix) or APAR fix may be provided for a currently supported LTSR. Also, identified fixes will be shipped as PTFs or in a Fix Pack and made available at regular intervals so that ongoing maintenance can be applied to currently supported LTSRs.

Q: Does a client require a different license to install a CD update package or an LTSR?

A: No. Both release types are covered by the existing license.

Q: What are the major differences between the existing lifecycle policies, Enhanced ‘5+3‘ and Standard ‘3+2‘, and the CD support ‘2+1’ lifecycle policy?

A: The major difference is the support duration of each policy and the availability of defect fixes and security updates. The technical support period for CD support is a minimum of 2 years and the availability of support extensions will be for a minimum of one year after a product's effective EOS date. Also, with the new CD policy product defect fixes and security updates will be made available in the next CD update package and all active LTSRs. Individual fixes may be made available for high severity issues between these update packages. All other aspects of support remain the same.

Q: Are the existing Enhanced and Standard policies affected by the CD support lifecycle policy?

A: No. The current Enhanced and Standard support lifecycle policies are not impacted. They will continue to be available and used by IBM software products. Products that are not announced with CD support will retain their existing support lifecycle policy.

Q: Does this change impact the way clients contact IBM for support?

A: No, this does not change the way a client contacts IBM for support. The client will continue to submit and track problems electronically via the IBM Support Community, or they may call the IBM Support Center in their geography. The IBM Support Guide contains detailed information regarding contacting IBM for assistance.

Q: Can clients contact IBM technical support and obtain assistance even if they are not on the latest CD update package?

A: Yes. Clients can contact IBM support for product technical assistance for as long as the product has not yet reached the effective EOS date. Standard technical support (defect and non-defect) is available for at least two years for products released with CD support. However, fixes and security updates will only be provided for the latest CD update package and all active LTSRs.

Q: How does a client determine if the software they have installed is still supported; that is, has not reached the effective EOS date?

A: Clients should visit the IBM Software support lifecycle website to view their currently installed software and support status.

Q: Does IBM provide technical support for third party software included in a program announced with CD support?

A: When the Program includes third party software code that IBM licenses, technical support applies only to the IBM licensed product and its components (see Third Party Notices in the License Information document).  If the product runs on an operating system release that is no longer supported, or with a co-requisite or prerequisite product that is no longer supported, IBM technical support may be limited to defects that can be replicated on currently supported environments.

Q: Are components of a bundle included in the support policy?

A: Yes, support is available for all IBM components of a product until the product or bundle is withdrawn from support. In addition, all components of a bundle have a common EOS date, unless otherwise noted.

Q: What is the significance of the April and September dates referenced in the policy?

A: IBM will align the effective date of support withdrawal (EOS) to occur on common dates, either in the month of April or September. IBM will announce the withdrawal at least twelve months in advance of the effective date.