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From the Maximo Support Desk - Overview of IBM Internet of Things' Maximo Support, Part Two

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Abstract

From the Maximo Support Desk - Overview of IBM Internet of Things' Maximo Support, Part Two

Body

Part Two - Care and Feeding of your Maximo product: Maintenance, Fixes, Patches

 

I am a "Level 2" Support Engineer for IBM Maximo and this is the second installment of a five-part series of articles that will give you an overview of the Maximo application support environment.  These articles are based on a presentation that has been given by the Maximo L2 Support Manager, Thomas Aaron.  In this part of the series I will discuss and clarify the major components of Maximo Product Maintenance, which is integral to sustaining and supporting your Maximo environment...

 

-Fix Packs / Feature Packs
Fix/Feature Packs deliver product defect fixes that have undergone a full development release cycle and have been subjected to the most extensive QA testing of all maintenance releases.  The fixes delivered are for any issue reported either internally or externally, regardless of severity.  Fix Packs occasionally deliver minor functional enhancements and modifications that add or update supported platforms/browsers/databases/middleware.

The primary attributes of Fix/Feature Packs are…
-7.5.0.x Fix Packs are generally published 2 times per year. 7.6.0.x Feature Packs have been published quarterly since mid-2015.
-These fixes can contain new features or functionality which may include database and application class structure changes.
-Fix/Feature Packs are cumulative and each new Fix/Feature Pack contains all fixes from all previous maintenance for that release.
 
-Feature Pack
NOTE: Starting with Maximo 7.6, a Fix Pack will now be called “Feature Pack” to more accurately reflect that new functionality/enhancements may be

delivered along with the latest cumulative bug fixes (APARs).  These are delivered every 3-4 months for 7.6 versus every 6-9 months for prior releases.   
 
So, where do you get these?
 -Fix Central: There is a portal to download necessary updates to your product - http://www.ibm.com/support/fixcentral
 -The Downloads module on Fix Central provides links to resources that help you find and acquire all applicable updates for your product.  Each product listed includes a link to Fix Central or another applicable link to necessary product fixes and upgrades.
 

You can search Fix Central for any applicable downloads by:
 -APAR or SPR identifier
 -Fix ID
 -Arbitrary text
 You can also search Fix Central for recommended groups of updates for your product.  You will also be able to find prerequisite and necessary companion fixes
 

-Interim Fixes: (IFIX) "You found a bug and we fixed it" 
Interim Fixes are the next level of maintenance for Maximo.  They have been referred to by many names such as Hotfix, Cumulative Hotfix, IFIX, and Limited Availability Fix.

An Interim Fix, or IFIX, is a cumulative set of fixes that is coded and delivered in between Fix Packs or Feature Packs.  These allow issues to be resolved before the next release.  These are used primarily to resolve critical and high priority issues that occur during a development cycle.

The primary attributes of Interim Fixes are…
-Interim Fixes are bug fixes only, they rarely contain class structure or database changes that would affect local customizations.
-These are generally released every 4 weeks on Fix Central. 
-There is a lesser level of QA testing than there is for a Fix/Feature Pack, and the testing will validate the issues for the current Fix/Feature Pack level, and one previous Fix/Feature Pack level.  There is also limited testing to validate the previous four Fix/Feature Pack levels.

Interim Fixes will not be built for older Fix/Feature Pack levels - the development and support team will request that the client upgrade to a more recent version before requesting that a development effort be initiated. (many clients have found that the current issue has been resolved in a more recent IFIX or Fix Pack, which is immediately available)

NOTE: The cumulative Interim Fixes are delivered approximately every 4 weeks to minimize the number of fixes from one delivery to the next.  This allows rapid release of fixes for newly discovered critical issues, and reduces the need for Limited Availability Fixes (LAFix)

-Limited Availability Fixes (LAFix)
An LA Fix is an unofficial mechanism to deliver emergency fixes for severe product issues that cannot be delayed until the next regular maintenance

delivery.  LA Fixes also go by the names “1-off” or “1-off Hotfix” but these terms all refer to a single APAR fix delivered directly to a customer from Support - these are not public, global releases.

Conditions that may warrant an LA Fix:
-A high severity issue in a production environment and there is not a currently published fix within the standard maintenance streams; additionally, there is no known work around.
-A high severity issue that is blocking a go-live for an upgrade, and the fix is not available in an interim fix for the recently upgraded fixpack level.
-A high severity issue on a system subject to external regulatory compliance that cannot have published maintenance applied in a reasonable amount of time.
 

Disadvantages of LA Fixes instead of IFIXs:
-LA Fixes are not QA tested prior to delivery - they are an ad-hoc development response to an issue
-They are specific to each client’s individual environment.
-Subsequent maintenance or additional LA Fixes can easily cause regressions.
-Increased difficulty for Support to perform diagnostics or standard troubleshooting in some cases;  there is an increased likelihood that subsequent issues cannot be reproduced in-house;  it is common that subsequent issues are unique to that environment.

 

-Recent Enhancements to these components:

-LA Fix Tool: LATestFixReportWriter
-Available since 7.5.0.2 and lists any LA Fixes applied to the environment.
-This is a required tool to request an LAFix request - the tool generates a report that will detect all the limited availability fixes that the customer has received for Maximo or Maximo Industry Solutions and Add-On products.
-The program produces a comma-separated value file with the following information:  Product, Version, Hot Fix Level, APAR Number, Fixed Date, Apply Date, File Names and Remarks.

 
-Documentation and README
-Clearer delineation of previous fixes and newly introduced fixes.
-A clear indication of fixes affecting behavior or functionality.
-Clearer instructions for manual changes accompanying new fixes.
-List of fixes delivered in a spreadsheet with links to detailed documentation and information on class files changed.

-Customization Detection Tool
 -The customization detection tool generates a report that will list all of the services, object and attribute classes that have been extended for Maximo or Maximo Industry Solutions and Add-On products.
-The tool can be downloaded from: https://ibm.biz/BdXtp2
-The tool can be applied to Release 7.5.0.x environments.
-The program produces a Microsoft Excel file with the following tabs:  Services, Objects and Attributes.  On each tab, the column A displays the name of  the service, object or attribute, and each following column represents any changes made to the service, object, or attribute.  The last column represents the customer's custom changes.

NOTE: this tool is already installed with the 7.6.0.x product

 

For your further enjoyment, please see the other articles in this series, "Overview of IBM Internet of Things' Maximo Support":

Part One - The Scope, Scale, and People of Support

Part Three - Severity, Response, and Engineer Engagement

Part Four - Additional Support Process and Resources

Part Five - Ours Go To 11: Expanded Support and the Maximo Support Community

 


Tom Richardson is an IBM Maximo Support Engineer and frequent contributor to the Asset Management Blog community.  For a complete index of links to his articles, visit
Index of articles by Tom Richardson, Support Engineer

 

 

 

 

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