Confusion About IBM i 7.4 TR2 and 7.3 TR8
Steve Will explains the latest IBM i technology refresh.
By Steve Will05/19/2020
It’s confusing, so before I begin, let me say this: We're sorry for the confusion. 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 time period, IBM i has also delivered Technology Refresh PTF Groups to enable significant support for hardware, firmware, I/O and virtualization.
This Technology Refresh PTF Group is commonly known as "the TR" but "the TR" really has come to have two definitions: the actual TR PTF Group and the announcement that describes it.
The TR announcements also describe new function which is delivered in other ways—for example, in IBM Db2®, 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. Ditto for open source and other IBM i technologies.
That brings us to the confusing announcement of Spring 2020.
When these 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. In the announcements, there were two new hardware related functions, but neither required a new TR:
-The IBM i tape virtualization is 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)
So, there is no TR PTF Group for 7.4 TR2 (yet). Similarly, there’s no TR PTF Group for 7.3 TR 8. But there may be at some point in the future!
So, to prepare for that potential, we’ve shipped the TR PTFs for the next TR PTF Group levels. Clients should load and regression test the resave and/or the PTF Cum packages, which contain them. As usual, the TR PTF requires an IPL to apply, and it is a sometimes a required pre-req for subsequent PTFs. Therefore, we advise users to load the latest code levels soon.
At some point—almost certainly in the second half of 2020, though still undetermined—we will be shipping new TR PTF Group levels. In the meantime, while it's confusing, you are not missing anything. The enhancements we announced in April are either available now or will be by end of June—you simply don't need a TR PTF Group to get them. 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.