Automatic PTF Management With IBM Systems Director Update Manager

Patch management is a critical and often complicated task for enterprise systems. This is especially true for IBM i. Because of relatively long release cycle, enhancements and valuable new features are usually delivered in technical refreshes as PTFs. Clients frequently ask questions, such as:

  • How do I know when IBM publishes new PTFs?
  • How can I keep my IBM i systems up-to-date?
  • Sometimes, I need to install a single PTF on multiple systems. Can this work be less painful than repeating same install process on each system?

The best solution is to use IBM Systems Director Update Manager. IBM Systems Director is a cross-platform foundation to streamlines heterogeneous environment management, by providing functions including discovery, inventory, resource monitoring, update management, etc. Update Manager is one of the key managers of IBM Systems Director, by which administrators of different systems can greatly automate and simplify their patch management, including IBM i PTF.

To help increase the productivity in PTF management tasks, this article will introduce several typical scenarios supported by Update Manager. After understanding these scenarios, you’ll know how to keep your IBM i systems up-to-date with only a little configuration in Update Manager, how to simplify your PTF management task by PTF group and system group, and how single PTF check and install is supported.


Before you can use Update Manager, you must take several preparative steps in IBM Systems Director.

  1. Discover and unlock the IBM i endpoints
  2. Perform inventory collection from IBM i endpoints
  3. Configure single sign-on credential. Update Manager will use this credential to access the target IBM i endpoint. The associated IBM i credential should have following authorities:

Meanwhile, Update Manager can run on agentless level. That means you can just turn on SSH service on your IBM i endpoint to do PTF management.

Manage PTF Group

Update Manager provides several main functions, including acquiring, downloading and installing a PTF Group. Let’s look more closely at each main function. :

Acquire PTF Group
Find the “Acquire updates” page from Release Management>Updates>Acquire updates, as shown in Figure 1.

Two methods are available to acquire the PTF groups. Update Manager can check for updates using the Internet or it can import PTF groups from the IBM Systems Director Server file system.

Download PTF Group
Each PTF should have a SAVF file to do install. You can check whether a PTF is downloaded or not by clicking “Updates Groups>All updates” as shown in Figure 2.

If downloaded status is “no,” it means that this PTF does not have SAVF file. You can manually download it with the “Download…” action, shown in Figure 3. Download requires an Internet connection to connect to the Fix Service Provider (FSP).

Install PTF Group
From the “Resource Explorer,” you can select an IBM i endpoint onto which the PTF and PTF groups need to be installed and invoke the “Show and Install Updates…” action, as shown in Figure 4.

All the needed PTF and PTF groups for this endpoint will be listed (Figure 5). Then you can select needed PTF and PTF groups to install. Also, if the SAVF files of selected PTFs have not been downloaded yet, Systems Director would download them first automatically before the installation.

After the install task is done, “Show Installed Updates…” will show the PTF and PTF groups that have been acquired on IBM Systems Director Server and been installed on the endpoint.

Ye Bo joined IBM China Systems & Technology Lab (CSTL) in 2011. As a staff software engineer, he mainly focuses on Update Management function development in IBM Systems Director for IBM i.

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