IBM software support lifecycle policy FAQs

Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy overview

Q: What is a software support lifecycle policy?

A: The support lifecycle policy for IBM software states the minimum length of time support will be available. This technical support period begins when the product is available for purchase, and ends when the product is no longer supported (End of Service). Each product, at the version/release level, has an established support period. The policy also states the minimum length of time that service extensions will be available for a fee after the effective End of Service date. The policy also states any unique terms for product defect fixes and security updates availability.

Q: Why is IBM introducing an additional support lifecycle policy?

A: Based on market needs and client deployment patterns for many of our software offerings, IBM is introducing the Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy to enable clients to receive and install new function much more rapidly than they have in the past. The policy enables IBM to continually add/improve product function and enables clients to accept and implement these updates faster.

Q: What are the major differences between the existing Enhanced (5+3) and Standard (3+2) policies and the new Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy?

A: The major difference is with overall support duration and the availability of defect fixes and security updates. The technical support period is a minimum of 2 years (from the current 5 or 3 years) and the availability of support extensions will be for a minimum of one year (from the current 3 or 2 years) after a product's effective End of Service (EOS) date. Also, with the new CD policy, product defect fixes and security updates will be made available to the most current 2 CD update packages and all active LTSR releases. Individual fixes may be made available for issues between these update packages. All other aspects of support remain the same.

Q: Are the existing Enhanced and Standard policies affected by this announcement?

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

Q: When does this new Continuous Delivery support policy take effect?

A: This policy is effective May 24, 2016. Products that elect to adhere to the Continuous Delivery Support Lifecycle Policy will announce their intention and be listed on the IBM software support lifecycle website with a ‘C’ (Continuous) designation in the column labeled ‘Policy type’.

Q: What IBM software is impacted by this announcement?

A: IBM on-premise software products may elect to implement the Continuous Delivery support lifecycle policy when they announce new versions or releases of the software and state the implementation of the CD support model. Select products will transition to the CD Support Lifecycle Policy over time.

Q: How will IBM software products announce their transition to this new policy?

A: Individual software products may choose to use this new policy when they announce a new version or release. The associated product announcement will denote the new support policy and reference this policy announcement (USA Ann#: 216-269) and expand on any details of terms and conditions.

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

A: No, individual product and market requirements will determine if moving to the CD support lifecycle policy 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.

Additional details

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

A: A Long Term Support Release is a release package that will be supported for an extended period of time when compared to the Continuous Delivery update packages. An LTSR assists clients where frequent functional updates may not be practical for their environment and a longer term deployment is desirable. An LTSR will be supported for a minimum of one year after it is made generally available.

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

A: A CD update package is a release package which contains both new function and product maintenance (fixes) in one easy to install package enabling clients to keep current.

Q: How will fixes be delivered for a Continuous Delivery update package release?

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 two most recent CD update packages. As CD update packages contain product maintenance and function, a new CD update package release will contain fixes identified since the previous CD update package.

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 FixPack and made available at regular intervals so that ongoing maintenance can be applied to currently supported LTSRs.

Q: How long will a Long Term Support Release (LTSR) be supported?

A: Each product has the flexibility to state the duration of support for a Long Term Support Release. The support duration may be one to five years from the general availability date as determined by product and market requirements. The support duration will be announced by IBM as part of the product announcement.

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

A: The new Software Support Lifecycle Policy delivers a consistent and predictable availability of support. Clients will continue to receive the same world-class support and assistance that they are accustomed to from IBM. This support is included in the standard Software Subscription and Support (S&S), Software Maintenance (SWM), or Monthly License Charge (MLC) charges for the eligible product. By maintaining a current S&S, SWM, MLC, or SupportLine agreement, clients receive the maximum value for their software products and can take advantage of the CD support model.

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

A: Yes, absolutely. Clients can contact IBM technical support for product technical assistance for as long as the product Version/Release has not yet reached End of Service (EOS). This support assistance is available for at least two years for all CD update packages for the product release (for example, 8.0.1, 8.0.2, 8.0.3, 8.0.4, and so on). However, defects and security updates will only be provided on the latest two CD update packages.

Q: Does this announcement impact the way a client contacts IBM for support?

A: No, this announcement does not change the way a client contacts IBM for support. The client continues to submit and track problems electronically, or they may call the IBM Support Center in their geography. They can go to the IBM Support Community to submit and manage problems. The IBM Software Guide can also be found at this site, and contains detailed information regarding contacting IBM for assistance.

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

A: Clients can search the IBM support lifecycle website to find the current support status of their installed products. The information is located at the IBM Software support lifecycle website. You can search for your selected product by name or PID. 

  • If a product is returned in the results, review the information to determine the end of support date.
  • If no product is returned in the results, the product has either been divested or is no longer in service.
    • A product will appear on the website for 10 years after its end of support date is reached.

Q: Do clients have to be using the latest release of a product to get support?

A: The client can receive support assistance on any version/release that is within its support lifecycle period. That is, the effective End of Service date has not been reached for that release. The client can obtain defect and security fixes, as provided by IBM, through interim fixes (iFixes) or APARs fixes on the most current two (2) CD update packages and on current Long Term Support Releases (when LTSRs are provided).

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 End of Service (EOS) date.

Q: Are the April and September dates referenced in the announcement the months that IBM will announce products being withdrawn from support (End of Service)?

A: No, April and September are the effective dates that products will be withdrawn from support. IBM will announce the withdrawal at least twelve months in advance of the effective date.

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

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