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3 Posts authored by: Christopher Mason Employee
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Last week I discussed how to obtain BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA, how to Receive this data into your SMP/E environment and how to run and analyze the Exception SYSMOD report. Running this report on a regular basis will help you to avoid known problems and unnecessary outages in your environment by helping you to identify missing critical maintenance and the possible impact if this is not applied (see Part 2).

 

BMC Fix Categories (FIXCAT)

BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA also includes another useful feature called FIXCAT that provides the capability to identify maintenance that you do not currently have applied based on specific fix categories. BMC Fix Categories are provided in the form of SMP/E FIXCAT HOLDDATA statements which have a common construct to those used by IBM and the other ISVs. Further information on IBM Fix Category Values and Descriptions can be found here.

 

A Fix category might be used to support:

  • A particular hardware device
  • New release of software / operating system
  • Provide a particular software function

 

What Fix Categories are available?

BMC added support for FIXCAT categories in the Enhanced HOLDDATA in May 2018 (Technical Bulletin), the current list of available BMC FIXCAT categories can be found here.

 

The FIXCAT categories are useful when you want to check if you are missing any compatibility or interoperability maintenance. For example, questions that we often receive in the Customer Success Organization via Support cases may include:

 

  • What maintenance do I need to apply to my BMC products in order to.........
    • exploit the capabilities of the IBM z15 server?
    • be able to run on (Tolerate) the IBM z15 server?
    • exploit the capabilities of z/OS 2.4?
    • allow them to run with z/OS V2R4?
    • allow them to run with CICS V5R5 or CICS V5R6?
    • implement the 2005 DB2 SPE etc?
    • allow them to exploit FL 504 or FL505 of DB2 v12 etc?
    • allow them to run with (tolerate) FL 504 or FL 505 of DB2 v12 etc?
    • allow them to run with IMS V15?
    • allow them to run with IBM MQ V9R0M5?

 

There are FIXCAT categories available to assist with the all above questions (plus many more), always check the FIXCAT page for the latest list of available categories.

You can also check compatibility information using the Architecture Compatibility Modeler or by raising case with BMC Support. Using the SMP/E MISSINGFIX report will complement this information as the BMC Enhanced HOLDDATA is updated daily, so downloading and receiving the latest version and running the report on a regular basis will highlight if you are missing any  maintenance. As an example, at the time of writing PTFs have recently been released for CMF Monitor version 6.2 in order to add support for the z/15 Speed Boost feature so running the MISSINGFIX report with the "BMC.Device.Server.z15-8561.Exploitation" fix category would highlight these PTFs if they have not been applied in your environment.

 

Running the SMP/E MISSINGFIX report for BMC FIXCAT categories

The SMP/E REPORT MISSINGFIX command can be used to identify PTFs for particular fix categories that are missing in your Target zone. Before running the MISSINGFIX report, you must first download the latest Enhanced HOLDDATA file and Receive the Enhanced HOLDDATA into your SMP/E environment as described in Part 2 of this series.

 

To run the report, you can use JCL as shown below (this example shows how to identify all required fixes to exploit the capabilities of z/OS 2.4 that are not yet applied in the BMC0TZN zone - using the BMC.TargetSystem-Exploitation.z/OS.V2R4 Fix category).

 

 

This will produce a standard SMP/E report as shown below:

 

 

The fields in the report show:

  • FIX CATEGORY
    • If no missing SYSMODs exist in the zone, this field will contain ***NONE.
  • FMID
  • HOLD CLASS
  • MISSING APAR
  • HELD SYSMOD
  • RESOLVING SYSMOD NAME
    • The list of SYSMODs that can resolve the HOLD reason ID.
  • RESOLVING SYSMOD STATUS
    • Describes the current state of the SYSMOD that resolves the HOLD.
      • GOOD indicates that the SYSMOD is not held and has no known problems.
      • HELD indicates one or more error HOLDs exist for it.
  • RESOLVING SYSMOD RECEIVED
    • Indicates whether the resolving SYSMOD has been received and is found in the global zone or not.

 

Resolving SYSMODs identified in the missing FIXCAT SYSMOD report might have a status of HELD indicating that one or more error HOLDs exists for them. To identify SYSMODs that resolve these error HOLDs, a second part of the missing FIXCAT SYSMOD report is produced. If none of the resolving SYSMODs identified in the first part of the report are held for an error, then this second part of the report is not produced.

 

To combine FIXCAT categories into the one report, use syntax as shown below:

 

 

During SMP/E RECEIVE command processing, SMP/E translates fix category values into source IDs and assigns them to the resolving (fixing) PTFs identified on the HOLDDATA.

You can use the fix category values as source IDs when selecting a set of PTFs to be applied.

Example: If you have a Target zone named BMC0TZN, you can  install all required fixes for z/OS V2.4 that have already been received by using the following command:

 

SET BDY(BMC0TZN).

APPLY SOURCEID(BMC.TargetSystem-RequiredService.z/OS.V2R4)

CHECK.

 

Further Information

For further information, please see the YouTube video below or if you have any questions on using BMC Fix categories, please raise a case with BMC Support.

 

 

We would love to hear your comments on the use of Enhanced HOLDDATA and FIXCAT or if you have any other ideas or suggestions for topics in this series!

Next time I will cover some more hints and tips relating to obtaining maintenance from BMC so please stay tuned and stay safe!!

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Introduction

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.

 

Enhanced HOLDDATA

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).

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Hello, I hope that you are keeping safe and well in these challenging times.

 

The Customer Success organization is here to ensure that customers realize value from their solutions.  We have often seen instances where support cases could have been avoided as they were caused by known defects or were issues that BMC had already publicised in Flashes or Technical Bulletins.

Introducing the Blog Series

Over the next few weeks I will be highlighting some steps you can take to avoid known problems and unnecessary outages by developing a proactive maintenance strategy. We will also discuss how you can engage with Customer Success before undertaking any installation or upgrade activity to help avoid all the common pitfalls. We are here to help you!

BMC provides two notification methods to inform customers of known problems or error conditions.

  • Product Alert Subscriptions (Proactive Notifications)
  • Enhanced HOLDDATA (I will be covering this topic next week)

 

Favorite Products and Alert Subscriptions

The first simple step is to ensure that the right people in your organization are receiving the Product Alert emails for all of your products.

To access your Product Alert Subscriptions, click on ‘My Support’ from the Support Central page and select “Favorite Products and Alert Subscriptions” from the menu:

 

                   

This will display a page as shown below

 

Use this page to update your favorite products and subscriptions.

 

Hints and Tips for Favorite Products and Alerts

The Alert subscriptions provide advance warning for critical situations avoiding a potential business crisis or can provide you with alerts when there is important new product information. You receive immediate email notification of critical issues which can save you potentially encountering the problem and having to raise a case with BMC.

On the above page, you’ll see a search window and a table section listing BMC products.

  • Use the search box to find a BMC product.
  • Use the ‘All products’, ‘My Supported Products’ and ‘My Selection’ buttons to filter the list of products.
  • ‘My Selection’ restricts the list of products to just your favorites and subscriptions.
  • ‘My Supported Products’ restricts the list to just your company’s owned products that you are supported on.
  • The ‘Supported’ column of the table shows you if you are currently supported to download, use and log support cases for a product.
  • The ‘Subscribed’ column in the table shows you if you are currently subscribed to Product Alert emails. Slide the switch to subscribe to a product’s emails. Slide it off to unsubscribe.
  • The ‘Favorited’ column shows you if a BMC product is in your favorites. Click the star to favorite a product. This will personalize BMC website and applications for you. Clear the favorite star to unfavorite a product.

 

 

If you need help, please use the self-help feature, or click the chat icon to chat with our Customer Care team.

 

Product Alert Types

The Product Alert Types include:

  • Flash Notifications
    • Flash notices inform you of a common or widespread Severity 1 issue found with any BMC Software product that could cause data loss, affect data integrity, introduce a security risk, or introduce a problem that is considered production-critical, high impact or PERvasive . Multiple flashes can be issued for a single product version. A flash can contain the following information:
      • The nature of the problem, including
        • Symptoms
        • Causes
        • Effects on system, performance, or data integrity
        • Prevention, if possible
        • A proposed user response or workaround (if any)
        • A description of a fix (if any) and how to access and apply it
  • Technical Bulletins
    • Technical bulletins describe the availability of fixes, announce updates, or describe any significant product issues that are either not already covered in the documentation or that arise after a product's release. Multiple technical bulletins can be issued for a single product version. Technical bulletins can include the following information:
      • Details about a product problem
        • Symptoms
        • Causes
        • Effects on system, performance, or data integrity
        • Prevention
        • A proposed user response or workaround (if any)
        • A description of a fix (if any) and how to access and apply it
  • Product Release Notes
    • Release notes announce a new product or product version, including maintenance releases. Only one release note is associated with a particular product version. Release notes can contain the following information:
    • A new product announcement
    • Enhancements (what's new and what's changed) with a new product version
    • Installation instruction updates
    • Last-minute product information
    • Documentation updates
    • Fixed and open maintenance items
    • Known problems and workarounds
    • Product trials
  • Third-Party Software Support Bulletins
  • Education Updates
  • Product Change Notifications

 

Remember to register new colleagues or if you are likely to be out of the office then redirect the alerts to a colleague (or request them to register as well). You can unsubscribe from any product just by moving the Subscribed column to the off position.

 

We would love to hear your comments on this article and if you have any other ideas or suggestions for topics!

 

Next week I will cover BMC’s implementation of Enhanced HOLDDATA so please stay tuned! (See Part 2)

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