Storage server Overview
Microsoft Software Updates on IBM System x Storage Servers
One of the key strategies for the maintenance of networked servers is to ensure that the system is properly updated with software updates from the server vendor. This is especially important for software updates that address security issues. IBM System x Storage Servers are no exception. In order to ensure that the file and print serving functions of the System x Storage Server are not compromised or interfered with, customers need to establish a strategy for applying software updates to System x Storage Servers on a timely basis.
IBM System x Storage Servers are based on the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system (the specific OEM version is titled "Windows Storage Server 2003"). Therefore, customers of IBM System x Storage Servers are directed to apply Windows Server 2003 software updates to their systems.
The following information outlines the strategies and recommended practices for applying Microsoft software updates to IBM System x Storage Servers.
Security Updates for IBM System x Storage Servers
Software updates that address security issues in an operating system are by far the most important type of software patch for networked servers. When security flaws are discovered within an operating system, worms and viruses that exploit those flaws are not far behind. Therefore, security-related software updates are normally very sensitive to timing. Microsoft specifically distinguishes Critical Security Patches from all other types of software updates and publishes them on a monthly basis to make it easier for customers to keep their systems secure (see Microsoft Technical Security Notification below). Customers of IBM System x Storage Servers are encouraged to apply Microsoft Critical Security Patches as they become available.
To ensure the compatibility of Microsoft security patches with IBM System x Storage Servers, all applicable security patches for IBM System x Storage Servers are tested by IBM. Sometimes Microsoft is compelled to release security patches before IBM can perform compatibility testing. Of course, IBM will always follow up and test these patches after they are released. In such cases, IBM recommends that customers use their own discretion to determine if the security risk is significant enough to warrant installation of a patch before IBM has had an opportunity to test it. In all cases, IBM will fully support the customer's configuration, regardless of the state of testing performed at IBM.
Occasionally, Microsoft security patches are found to have adverse reactions to elements of IBM System x Storage Server, or associated software components that may be installed on the server. In such cases, the anomaly will be reported via RETAIN Tips or IBM Technical Help Database. RETAIN Tips appear in the troubleshooting page of a given product. To find the troubleshooting page, navigate as follows:
- Visit: www.ibm.com/systems/support/x
- Select hardware and software
- When the support page for the product appears, select the Troubleshooting tab
- RETAIN Tips will appear under the Problem Resolution topic
Security Update Strategies
A variety of mechanisms are available to the server administrator to install security patches from Microsoft. Some of the most popular mechanisms are Microsoft tools such as Windows Update, Software Update Services (SUS), Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS), and Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer.
Microsoft publishes a document that describes the recommended approach to updating Windows Storage Server 2003 with the latest security patches:
Caveats to using Windows Update on IBM System x Storage Servers
Windows Update is designed to simplify and automate the process of keeping computer systems up-to-date with the latest software available for the system. However, not all patches available through Windows Update are recommended by IBM to be installed on System x Storage Servers. Following is a list of the type of updates available through Windows Update, and IBM's recommended process regarding them.
|Patch type||Description||Automatically selected for installation?||IBM recommendation|
|Critical Security Updates||Software changes to address deficiencies in the security of the system||Yes||Install as soon as they become available|
|Service Packs||Multiple software patches rolled up into a single package||No||Consult with IBM for guidance before installing *|
|Non-Critical Updates||Minor defect fixes and enhancements to existing features||No||Do NOT install **|
|Driver Updates||Minor defect fixes and enhancements to existing features of low level device drivers||No||Do NOT install **|
* Please consult IBM for guidance before installing any Service Packs to ensure that they are tested and compatible with your specific configuration. For more information or to locate your local IBM Technical Support contact information, please go to http://www.ibm.com/planetwide
**Do not install non-critical and driver updates unless specifically advised to do so by IBM. Contact IBM to obtain guidance on installing non-critical patches and driver updates for your specific Windows Storage Server product. This will ensure that IBM has tested and validated the non-critical and driver updates for the IBM-specific system, and has corrected the specific problem related to the non-critical update fix or driver update. IBM is the point of support should any problem occur.
Instructions for ordering Recovery CD's for IBM System x Storage Servers may be found at:
How to order Recovery CDs
Instructions for using Recovery CDs may be found on the Storage Server QuickStart User's Guide for your particular Storage Server at: www.ibm.com/systems/support/
- Select Servers from Support by Product field
- Select product family
- Select hardware and software products
- Click the Plan / Upgrade tab
- Select the Preloaded software category, the document will appear
Note: Recovery CDs are only available for Windows Storage Server 2003 based products.
Microsoft administers another software patch process known as "hotfixes". A hotfix is a software patch intended to address specific problems that occur under rare circumstances. To limit exposure, Microsoft intentionally distributes hotfixes only on an "as needed" basis, through the Microsoft Product Support Services group. Most hotfixes are ultimately rolled into a comprehensive Service Pack.
In order to resolve a problem, an IBM customer support representative may ask a customer to install a Microsoft hotfix onto a System x Storage Server. IBM will support all hotfix upgrades to System x Storage Servers, as long as the hotfix was applied through the direction of IBM Support. Customers should avoid applying hotfixes to System x Storage Servers without specific guidance from IBM.
IBM Resources for System x Storage Servers
IBM System Support subscriptions
To receive proactive daily or weekly email updates of new advisories, customers may register with Support. Support provides critical information on items about your machine that you have added to your profile such as parts information, warranty lookup and downloads thus keeping abreast of new guidance as it becomes available.
Microsoft Resources for IBM System x Storage Servers
Microsoft Technical Security Notification
Microsoft offers e-mail alerts to notify customers when there is an important security bulletin or virus alert, or when customers might need to take action to guard against a circulating threat. The following web site allows customers to register for these notifications:
Best Practices for Applying ServicePacks, Hotfixes and Security Patches
Customer guide for establishing a process for applying Security Patches on Windows based systems:
24 January 2019