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Managing POWER8 Update Access Keys

As the initial warranty periods on POWER8 systems start to expire, update access keys will need to be replaced. Here's how.

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A customer recently experienced issues with POWER8 firmware access keys (page excerpt below):

"POWER8 (and later) servers include an “update access key” that is checked when system firmware updates are applied to the system. Update access keys include an expiration date. As these update access keys expire, they need to be replaced using either the Hardware Management Console (HMC), the Advanced Management Interface (ASMI) on the service processor, or directly using the update_flash command."

To get a new update access key, follow the steps below (excerpted from the page):

"An expired update access key can be acquired by visiting the following website:
http://www.ibm.com/servers/eserver/ess/index.wss

Step 1: Gather Data—You will need to know your server's machine type, serial number, and the country of installation in order to obtain a new update access key.

Step 2: Login to the "Entitled System Support" web page using your IBM WebID.
http://www.ibm.com/servers/eserver/ess/index.wss

Step 3: Navigate to the "My Entitled Hardware" section and select "View, download and request update access keys."

Step 4: Enter your server’s machine type, serial number and country of installation. You may enter each server machine type and serial number individually, or you can upload a list of servers.

Step 5: On the “Update Access Key Request Confirmation” page, you’ll see the result of your request(s). You’ll have the option of viewing your server’s new update access key directly, downloading the key via a file or sending it to your IBM Web ID via email.

Note: If you were not provided with a new update access key for your server, click on “contacts” on the right side of the screen to engage with IBM.

Step 6: After retrieving your server’s new update access key, return to your server and enter the key on your HMC (using the “Enter CoD Code” feature) or via the ASMI (using the “CoD Activation” feature).”

My client was getting reminders on their HMC that it was time to input a code, but after going to the IBM Entitled Systems Support (ESS) site and selecting the update access key option, the dates and the keys did not change. This IBM Support Page explains why:

"The initial Update Access Key is loaded during the manufacturing process and is dated to align with the expiration of the initial warranty period. The term of any subsequent agreement (e.g. IBM hardware maintenance service agreement or special bid agreement) may vary. Therefore, replacement Update Access Keys are issued with a duration of 180 days."

In short, the initial warranty hadn't expired. When they purchased their system, the date of expiration was a few years out. Once that date was reached and the new maintenance agreement kicked in, they could update the keys with no problem.

Going forward, they'll need to update keys every 180 days. This will become more common as the initial warranty periods of these POWER8 systems run out, so keep it in mind if you haven't reached that point with yours.
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