How to Find the Latest IBM i PTF Groups
Steve Will, chief architect for IBM i, explains how to find the IBM i 7.4 TR2 PTF groups.
By Steve Will09/01/2020
Q: Where is the 7.4 TR2 PTF group?
I’ve received this question from clients several times, and the short answer is that it’s confusing. Let me try to explain.
Since 2010, IBM i has had two major announcements each year, one in the first half, and one in the second half. During that same period of time, IBM i delivered the Technology Refresh (TR) program temporary fix (PTF) groups to enable significant support for hardware, firmware, I/O and virtualization.
To add to the confusion, TR has come to have two definitions: the actual TR PTF group and the announcement that describes it.
The TR announcements also describe new functions that are delivered in other ways. For example, in IBM Db2® for i, enhancements are delivered inside Db2 PTF Groups SF99703 and SF99704. When a TR happens, the Db2 team ships a new level of these PTF groups. The function is announced with the TR. Similarly, Access Client Solutions has its own distribution method, but we announce the new function with the TR. The same goes for open-source and other IBM i technologies.
The Spring 2020 TR
When the spring 2020 announcements were initially planned, everything was going to be normal. But as the announcements got closer, it became clear that a TR PTF group was not needed at the same time as the other enhancements. The announcements below feature two new hardware-related functions, but neither required a new TR:
- The IBM i tape virtualization was delivered via individual PTFs
- The IBM i Hybrid Network Virtualization uses the previous TR levels (IBM i 7.4 TR 1 PTF group or IBM i 7.3 TR 7 PTF group)
That’s all to say that there was no TR PTF group for 7.4 TR2 at the time we made the spring announcements. Similarly, there was no TR PTF group for 7.3 TR 8 at the time—but there is now!
On July 21, we announced several new IBM Power Systems™, and with it, we shared the news of the IBM i 7.4 TR2 PTF Group (SF99737 PTF Group Level 2) and the IBM i 7.3 TR8 PTF Group (SF99727 PTF Group Level 8) made available July 14.
The new TR PTF groups support the new G models of the IBM Power® S924, S914 and S922, including the 1-core S922 offering requested by many of our clients and partners.
These systems have Gen4 PCIe and Gen4 NVMe slots, so support for new devices and their use in those systems is also included in the PTF groups. And, the IBM i tape virtualization that was announced in the spring is now bundled in the TR PTF group.
The IBM i team advises users to load the latest code levels soon. And now, that includes the TR PTF groups.
Future Technology Refreshes
We know this was confusing, so we’ve definitely learned some lessons here. We intend to go back to normal (i.e., we expect to announce TRs and make TR PTF groups available very close to one another).
However, it’s certainly possible that at some point in the future, we will need to separate them again. If that happens, we will be clearer about what clients should expect to see.
Ultimately, this situation occurred because the few features that we announced in the spring didn’t require a TR PTF group, but these July announcements did. That’s not typical. But business and technology situations arise, and we have to adapt. Everything we announced in the spring was available, but in different forms than usual.
Meanwhile, let me emphasize again: Many of the enhancements we announce with our TRs don’t require the TR PTF group. The details of the delivery vehicles are in the announcement letters and on the IBM i Technology Updates wiki landing pages.
Steve Will is the chief architect for IBM i, responsible for strategy and planning related to the OS.