AIX > Administrator > Systems Management

Debunking Myths About Power Entitlement


Hardware and UAKs

Since POWER8, IBM has added a feature called a UAK to its servers. There are multiple ways you can check these. In order to install firmware you must have a current UAK installed for the server. The UAK is checked when system firmware updates are applied to the system. UAKs 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.

You will receive warnings starting about 30 days prior to when your UAK expires but it is best to update the UAK prior to that. You can check your UAK status as follows:

1. On the HMC: ssh to the HMC lslic -m ??????? -F mtms,update_access_key_exp_date where ?????? is the managed system name It will reply with a line that includes the managed system name and the expiry date

2. Using “My Entitled Hardware” on ESS site Click on “My Entitled Hardware” Click on “UAK – view, download and request keys” Enter the machine type and serial. Note you need the full 7 characters for the serial, not just the 5 we normally use. Click on “Add” and it will list the server below along with its key expiration date. You can then select the server and download, view or request new standard keys. If you select “view keys” it puts the full key out to the right of the expiry date.

Under “My entitled Hardware” you can also download and view COD keys for memory and processor core activations.

Confusion around UAKs

The confusion around UAKs stems from how long they are provided for and what happens when you renew them. When you purchase a POWER8 server your initial UAK is installed for you and it is valid for the life of the default warranty for that system. The default warranty period for servers is as follows: E850 and below 3 years E870 and above 1 year Even if you uplift your E870 and above to 3 years or more the UAK will only be for 1 year, as it is based on the default warranty period.

In order to update your UAK you will need to know your server's machine type, serial number, and the country of installation. You can go to the ESS site and request a new key in “My entitled Hardware”, “View, download and request update access keys”. However, if you do not have a current HWMA the request will be denied.

You should also be aware that the replacement UAK will not necessarily be co-terminous with your HWMA end date. New keys, beyond the initial warranty period, are only issued for 180 days. The FAQ is very clear on how UAKs work and explains that the replacement is only for 180 days but there’s been a great deal of confusion about this so I wanted to stress it again. You should also note that even if your UAK expires you can still install firmware that came out during the period that you were entitled—this only affects anything after the date it expired.

If you are using ESA (electronic service agent), you can set it up to automatically download new UAKs. In the references below, there’s an excellent article on “Configuring UAK Management Settings” that explains how to do this.

Summary

Understanding entitlement is an important part of systems administration today. You want to know that when you try to place a support call for hardware or software that you’re going to be able to get help immediately without being sent to the entitlement team. I highly recommend that you check both software and hardware entitlement any time you install a new server. If IBM or the business partner misses a step, entitlement may not be set correctly, and it’s best to discover this prior to going live. Additionally, I would regularly check the software and hardware entitlements for all the servers you have. Put those expiry dates in a spreadsheet where you can find them easily—it doesn’t take a lot of work to avoid a big problem. I’ve been that person on the weekend placing a support call and hearing the words “We need to put you through to entitlement.” This can be avoided by doing a few checks and is worth the time and effort.

Jaqui Lynch is an independent consultant, focusing on enterprise architecture, performance and delivery on Power Systems with AIX and Linux.



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