In this era of digital transformation and historic technology shifts with data management and mobility for hybrid cloud environments, enterprises often find themselves having to find a balance between adopting new capabilities and trying to ensure the ongoing resilience of their key systems. Starting in the first quarter of 2021, IBM is taking steps to make this easier for users of IBM Spectrum Virtualize and the IBM FlashSystem storage product offerings. IBM will continue to produce software packages regularly during the year. These software packages will be referred to as Continuous Development (CD) packages and are aimed at providing new features and enhancements. They may also contain fixes.
This FAQ is applicable to IBM Spectrum Virtualize 8.4.0 and later releases. Starting with IBM Spectrum Virtualize 8.4.0, IBM Spectrum Virtualize introduced the software release model described below.
Release versions and timeline shown for illustrative purposes only
There will be periodic CD releases each year. The CD releases deliver new capabilities and defect fixes to current storage products running IBM Spectrum Virtualize software on a regular cadence. A CD release might occasionally be designated as a Long Term Support (LTS) release while the other releases are regarded as Non-Long Term Support (Non-LTS) releases. Program Temporary Fixes (PTFs) on the LTS level will contain only security and defect fixes. This lets you stay fully up to date on fixes without needing to take on additional function. The recommended LTS PTF or Non-LTS level for use with systems can be found in the IBM Spectrum Virtualize Family of Products Upgrade Planning and IBM Fix Central support pages.
Q. What do you mean by LTS and Non-LTS releases?
A. LTS stands for Long Term Support within the continuous development release model. It corresponds with the way we support and maintain IBM Spectrum Virtualize software releases. The LTS release/level is for systems that demand the highest levels of stability with updates during the support period containing fixes to identified problems and vulnerabilities. The Non-LTS releases add or enable new function on systems running IBM Spectrum Virtualize and are made available periodically throughout the year. These are intended for customers wanting to exploit the latest features and capabilities of IBM Spectrum Virtualize without waiting for the next long term support release cycle.
Q. What is the frequency of LTS and Non-LTS releases?
A. The exact duration between releases is not fixed but the expected frequency is Non-LTS releases every few months and an LTS release approximately every 1 – 2 years.
Q. How are LTS releases numbered?
A. Using the V.R.M.F (Version. Release. Mod. Fix) format described here, a designated LTS release is in the format X.Y.0.0, where either X or Y has been increased since the previous LTS release and the modification number and fix level are zero. Subsequent PTFs will increase the fix level. For example, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11 could be deemed LTS releases with corresponding PTFs such as 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, etc.
Q. How are Non-LTS releases numbered?
A. Non-LTS releases are in the format X.Y.Z.0, where X and Y match that of the most recent LTS release, and Z (the modification number) indicates the new Non-LTS build since the matching LTS release was delivered. For a Non-LTS release, the fix level never changes and will remain as zero. For example, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, etc.
Q. Do I need a different license to install LTS or Non-LTS releases?
A. No. They are covered by the same license. Note: An LTS release is a CD release designated as a Long Term Support release.
Q. When should we expect a new LTS level to become ‘Recommended'?
A. When the release has demonstrated field stability over an extended period of time. The recommended LTS level for use with systems can be found in the IBM Spectrum Virtualize Family of Products Upgrade Planning
Q. Where do I obtain a LTS or Non-LTS software package?
A. There is no change to software package delivery process. Subsequent PTFs based on the LTS release will be available via IBM Fix Central. CD releases not marked as LTS (Non-LTS releases) will also be available for download, installation or upgrade via IBM Fix Central.
Q. Is there a change to the support model for this continuous development (LTS and Non-LTS) releases?
A. No. There is no change to the existing support model for IBM Spectrum Virtualize. Clients will continue to receive the same support included in the standard software subscription, maintenance and license charges for the eligible storage products.
Q. How do I raise a problem with an LTS or Non-LTS release?
A. There is no change to how problems are raised for IBM Spectrum Virtualize in this continuous development model. Issues requiring IBM investigation should be reported via the standard IBM support problem reporting/ticketing portal.
Q. How are fixes delivered for an LTS release?
A. While an LTS release is in support, IBM will continue to ship identified fixes via PTFs for the level of LTS installed on your system.
Q. How are fixes delivered for a Non-LTS release?
A. If a fix is required for a Non-LTS release, we aim to deliver it in a subsequent Non-LTS or LTS release. A new Non-LTS release contains fixes identified since the previous Non-LTS release. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not plan to have PTFs on Non-LTS releases. With Non-LTS releases, customers should expect to move to subsequent Non-LTS releases regularly, if they want to keep on getting all the very latest capabilities.
Q. What if there is a critical issue on a Non-LTS release that requires an urgent fix prior to availability of the next Non-LTS release (would typically include delta fixes since prior Non-LTS release)?
A. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis. IBM will actively work to provide an emergency fix and will determine the fix delivery vehicle.
Q. What features do you see in a Non-LTS release?
A. New features are delivered in each Non-LTS release. By the nature of the regular delivery, large features might be delivered across multiple Non-LTS releases, increasing the capabilities of the feature each time.
Q. Will new features be exactly the same from one Non-LTS release to another?
A. Potentially not. Non-LTS releases provide new capabilities as rapidly as possible, which might mean that a feature delivered in one Non-LTS release is improved in a subsequent Non-LTS release, based on further development or user feedback.
Q. Where do I find documentation for the LTS and Non-LTS releases?
A. Documentation for all LTS and Non-LTS releases will still be found in the IBM Knowledge Center product guide.
Q. Are all the new features in a Non-LTS release supported?
A. Yes, if you choose to use any new feature, support is provided through the standard methods.
Q. What features do you see in an LTS release?
A. An LTS release contains new features along with features previously made available in prior non-LTS releases
Q. Will you provide backward migration capability after upgrading from an LTS to a Non-LTS release?
A. Following our general approach to software upgrade, we will not generally allow concurrent downgrade from a Non-LTS release to a previous LTS release.
Q.Can I upgrade to an LTS directly from a Non-LTS release?
A. Yes, you can upgrade to any PTF based on the next LTS stream after the Non-LTS release you are on.
Q. Can I upgrade from one Non-LTS release to a second Non-LTS release where the second Non-LTS release is across an LTS release boundary?
A. No. In general you will not be able to upgrade directly from one Non-LTS release to a second Non-LTS release level if you are going across an LTS release boundary. For example, you should not expect to upgrade directly from 18.104.22.168 to 22.214.171.124. You will likely have to first migrate to the interim LTS release before upgrading to the Non-LTS release. For example, if you are running 126.96.36.199 Non-LTS release, you have to first upgrade to 8.6.0.x LTS release and then upgrade to 188.8.131.52 Non-LTS release. The details of supported upgrade paths will continue to be documented in the IBM Support page.
Q. Can I roll back a Non-LTS install to an earlier Non-LTS or LTS release?
A. The approach to downgrading remains the same with this move to Non-LTS and LTS releases. Once an upgrade has completed, it is not possible to downgrade the software to an earlier level without deleting and manually rebuilding he system in its entirety, including restoring all volume data from an external backup.
Q. Can I roll back an LTS designated release to an earlier Non-LTS release?
A. The approach to downgrading remains the same with this move to Non-LTS and LTS releases. Once an upgrade has completed, it is not possible to downgrade the software to an earlier level without deleting and manually rebuilding the system in its entirety, including restoring all volume data from an external backup.
Q. Is this Continuous Development release model for IBM Spectrum Virtualize software releases the same as the IBM Continuous Delivery Support policy?
A. No, they are not the same. This Continuous Development (CD) model is an optimized strategy for rolling out our software releases that gives clients the flexibility to choose to stay on a baseline release (LTS) with fix currency or gain access sooner to new functions and capabilities via the Non-LTS CD releases. There is no change to the support policy. The Continuous Delivery (CD) Support policy addresses the support lifecycle policy for eligible on-premises IBM software programs.
10 June 2021