Hello, I hope that everybody is keeping safe and well.
Last week, in part 1 of this series, I discussed how to ensure that the right people in your organization are receiving the product alert notification emails for your products. This week I would like to cover another technique that will help you to be proactive and avoid known problems and unnecessary outages in your environment. This is something that has been around for many years although our experience in the Customer Success Organization suggests that many users do not use or know about this feature: Enhanced HOLDDATA. I have worked on many high severity cases where we have collected logs, dumps and other diagnostics from a customer to discover that the problem is a known issue where a Flash or Technical Bulletin had already been published and also where BMC had flagged the problem in the Enhanced HOLDDATA file.
The BMC implementation of Enhanced HOLDDATA uses the same published format as the IBM Enhanced HOLDDATA which is detailed here
You can use Enhanced HOLDDATA for the following purposes:
- To ensure that you do not install PTFs or FMIDs with PTF-in-error (PE) or High Impact or Pervasive (HIPER) conditions.
- To monitor critical maintenance and conditions that affect your SMP/E environments.
With Enhanced HOLDDATA, you can run and review the Exception SYSMOD report to detect critical conditions known to BMC, their relative severity, and how to fix them. The HOLDDATA is updated by BMC on a daily basis so downloading it on a regular basis and running the report will give an up to date view of error conditions that could impact your environment before you encounter the problem!
Obtaining Enhanced HOLDDATA from BMC
The BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA files are provided in a variety of formats (compressed binary or text and monthly, quarterly, yearly or three yearly) and are located in the Holddata directory. The directory also includes sample jobs for downloading, decompressing (if downloading the compressed binary format) and Receiving the Enhanced HOLDDATA into your SMP/E environment.
You can download Enhanced HOLDDATA by using any of the following methods:
- Web browser
- FTP command line
- FTP batch file.
- BMC RECEIVE ORDER or BMC Internet Service Retrieval (ISR).
- Enhanced HOLDDATA is automatically included when you process a maintenance request via RECEIVE ORDER.
For further details on each of these methods, please see Downloading Enhanced HOLDDATA
Running the Exception SYSMOD report
Once you have downloaded and Received the Enhanced HOLDDATA you can run the Exception SYSMOD report by copying the JCL SampleReport.txt from the Holddata directory or by using the example shown below. Modify the job card, SMP/E datasets and Zone name for your environment.
Reviewing the Exception SYSMOD Report
A sample Exception SYSMOD report is shown below:
The report lists the exception SYSMODs, the APAR numbers, the resolving SYSMODs that have not been installed yet and the Hold symptoms. In the report, you can see there are four exception situations highlighted (2 HIPERs and 2 PE’d PTFs). The report can be used in parallel with Flashes/Technical Bulletins received via the Product alert notification emails to assess the exposure to potential problems that may be encountered in the environment. Applying the PTFs listed in the RESOLVING SYSMOD section will help you to avoid hitting these problems and from possibly having to raise a high severity case with BMC Support.
As an example, the first row in the report shows a HIPER situation for SYSMOD BBISS26 that is described by APAR BCI1333 and resolved by PTF BQI2608. Until the resolving PTF is applied there is a potential Function Loss as indicated by the ‘FUL’ Hold symptom. BMC published a Flash regarding this particular problem (ID 781) in October 2019 which highlighted an integrity issue that affects all MainView products. Similarly, the fourth row of the report shows that PTF BQU2263 is applied in this environment. This PTF was originally available in July 2019 but was subsequently marked in-error (PE’d) in March 2020. The report shows that PTF BQU2827 is required to resolve the error condition (also a potential Function loss). A Flash (ID 910) was also issued at this time providing more details on the problem.
The Common Enhanced HOLDDATA symptoms (as indicated in the HOLD SYMPTOMS column) are shown below:
Recommendations and More Information
The Enhanced HOLDDATA is updated daily so it is recommended that you download and receive the latest Enhanced HOLDDATA and run the Exception SYSMOD report on a regular basis. Always obtain the latest Enhanced HOLDDATA before you perform any of the following actions:
- Install products (to prevent installing FMIDs with known issues)
- Apply maintenance (to prevent applying maintenance with known issues)
- Run the Exception SYSMOD report (to review the latest critical conditions known to BMC and how they may impact your environment)
Please see here for more information on using BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA and also this short video on the BMC Mainframe YouTube channel:
We would love to hear your comments on the use of Enhanced HOLDDATA or if you have any other ideas or suggestions for topics in this series!
Once you have BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA downloaded, you can utilize another useful feature: BMC Fix Categories (FIXCAT). I will cover that topic next week so please stay tuned! (See Part 3).