Keeping your HMC Running Smoothly: Updating the HMC

Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions
Nathan Williams

Last month, I talked about the importance of the HMC and how it shouldn’t be ignored. That leads to the question: How do I keep it running smoothly? The full answer can be pretty complex. In fact, Pete regularly speaks at conferences on the topic of HMC maintenance and the presentation can easily fill a 90-minute session. Today, I’d like to set our sights a bit lower and just talk about the basics of HMC updates. IBM regularly releases Service Packs and PTFs for each version of the HMC software currently in support, and keeping the software updated will help prevent problems.

Before we can update anything, we are going to need to know what HMC hardware and software we are using so let’s start with gathering that information first. If you’re using the Classic GUI, you can find your HMC software, hardware, and serial number information by either hovering your mouse cursor over the HMC Version link at the top of the Welcome screen, or by clicking the Updates link in the left-hand menu. In the new Enhanced+ GUI, you can find it by clicking the help menu in the upper-right corner and then selecting About; an information window will pop up with all of the relevant details.

2. Help menu in the Enhanced+ GUI

Now that we know what we have, we can proceed to ordering update files from IBM. For this, we’ll be using IBM’s Fix Central web site. You’ll need to know your HMC’s serial number and you’ll also need an IBMid to download the files (you can create an account if you don’t already have one). Click the Select Product button and then choose Power Systems Management Consoles from the first drop-down. As you choose options from the menu, new menus will appear below. You’ll need to use the information you’ve gathered about your current HMC hardware and software to select the correct items. Fix Central will present all of the available PTFs for the HMC version you selected and will give you some options for downloading the files. If you’re not sure where to start, you can use this newsletter as a guide – each month we list the most recent PTFs and Service Packs for each version of the HMC software and the order they should be installed.

3. Choosing a Product in Fix Central

PTFs and Service Packs are both installed the same way – the HMC has a GUI wizard which mostly handles things for you, although it is important to read the release notes for every PTF as sometimes IBM will provide alternate installation instructions. Assuming there are no special conditions, the process consists of saving the ISO file you’ve downloaded from IBM to a USB thumb drive (it needs to be in the root directory), plugging the drive into one of the HMC’s USB ports, and then running the update wizard. In the Classic GUI, the update wizard is accessed by clicking the Updates link on the left-hand menu, then clicking the Update HMC button at the top of the page. In the Enhanced+ GUI, click the HMC Management icon and then choose Updates. The wizard itself is identical in both GUI environments and it will walk you through finding the ISO file and installing the update. It should be noted that just about every PTF and Service Pack will require the HMC to be rebooted after installation. How long the reboot takes will vary based on what exactly was updated, but it’s best to plan for around 30 minutes. The HMC reboot won’t affect your running POWER system, but it does mean that you’ll be without a console for the duration so it’s best to plan HMC updates for a time when you’re not performing any other maintenance activities.

4. Updates in the Enhanced+ GUI

As you can see, HMC PTFs are not particularly difficult to install. While there is some complexity involved in determining which ones apply to your system, once you’ve identified what you need the process is simple…and if it’s all still a little overwhelming don’t forget that iTech Solutions is always available to help navigate the speed bumps. The team has performed thousands of these updates as well as major version upgrades for our customers, so feel free to reach out to us if you need advice.

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