5 Reasons to Keep your IBMi PTFs And Technology Refreshes Up to Date

We are concerned about the lack of attention among our iSeries customers who ignore IBM PTF and technology updates to keep their IBMi OS (OS400 / i5 / OS) up to date. Well, we understand the general justification – “The system is working fine and will be taken care of in the next release version. If it is not broken, do not repair it. Then why not wait?”First, let us understand what “PTF” means. PTF is Program Temporary Fix. PTF is a software patch to fix “bugs” or “improvements” using IBM Licensed Software Products (LPPs), typically operating systems. The “temporary” part of this is a temporary fix until the next version of the operating system is released. At that point, a “fix” will be added to the new release code.

Technology updates can provide:

  • Support for new hardware and firmware (e.g., new I/O equipment or newly announced models)
  • Support for new virtualization functions
  • Performance improvements
  • Enable new functions

Starting with the V6R1, IBM has significantly slowed the pace of new OS releases to give its customers more time to evaluate and upgrade to the latest version (IBM has many customers worldwide struggling to upgrade to the new OS version in less than 3 years). So, instead of a new OS every two years, IBM introduces new functionality and fixes by releasing technology updates, or TR.

This means that the old way of waiting for the next IBMi OS to update your PTF is more dangerous. Due to the long distances between IBMi OS versions, it is now important to stick with PTFs as new OS versions will take longer to release.

In addition to updating PTF levels, TRs add additional capabilities to existing operating systems.

For example, what has been added to V7R1 are user profile enhancements, object auditing improvements, data encryption, security enhancements, and updated programming tools. They were all delivered to V7R1 by TR. There were also several TRs for the V7R2.

Point Behind Caring About PTFs and TRs

  • If you are using IBM as400 software support, they first ask for your PTF level. If you go back to the previous level, they will want you to engage with them before you start working on your problem.
  • When IBM recognizes a widespread problem, such as the recent WebSphere application server Java vulnerabilities, it develops a solution. However, this fix depends on the latest version of the operating system level. They don’t go back and test those fixes on non-running OS versions with the latest PTFs and TRs. Therefore, during repair testing and verification, there is no guarantee that PTF will work on a system that goes backward.
  • Excluding too many PTF / TR levels can lead to IBM i OS and microcode incompatibility. (Microcode is software that programs hardware functions, also called firmware or licensed internal code.) This may prevent your server from upgrading to a new operating system until the microcode is updated, which causes additional downtime and, in some cases, upgrades until the issue is resolved. Must be returned. The current PTF cannot be determined if the TR level is too late. Additional steps and more time are required to update the system’s official internal code.
  • IBM tends to add the same OS functionality to all levels of the existing OS using TRs. So, for example, new features and functionality built into V7R2 were added to V7R1 by TRs. This means that you can work on the operating system longer without upgrading to a more recent version to get the functionality you or the software vendor needs.
  • IBM LPP programs such as WebSphere products are debugged by the same process but require additional steps and are dependent on your overall PTF and TR level. LPP patches are needed to improve performance and protect these products from intrusion.

NOTE: The purpose of this blog is to explain the importance of keeping your IBM iSeries OS up to date with PTF and technology updates.

We recommend that our clients stay updated on PTF and TR. Talk to your software vendors, and they will tell you. Once you learn the process, managing and implementing PTF is not tricky. Or, if you prefer, talk to us. We at Integrative Systems can handle your updates without interrupting processes. Please send us an email at [email protected] 

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