Admin Alert: CBU Product License Keys Can and Will Suddenly Expire
May 19, 2010 Joe Hertvik
One of my Power i Capacity BackUp (CBU) systems hit the wall last week. All of a sudden, none of our administrators could start a PC5250 green-screen session on the CBU. Each time they clicked on a PC5250 session icon, the user received an obscure CWBLM0020 error and they couldn’t get to the system. Here’s what happened and how it can affect any shop with an i/OS CBU system.
When one of our administrators went to start a PC5250 session on our CBU, the session refused to start and she received the following error.
CWBLM0020 - Failure--Licensing Failure When Connecting with ISeries Access for Windows.
We investigated whether it was a local problem with her machine by starting a PC5250 session from other computers. No luck. Each machine and session displayed the same CWBLM0020 error, which meant that there was something wrong with our CBU configuration rather than with the admin’s PC setup.
We then found that I could start a CBU green-screen session through one of the following two methods.
This strongly suggested there was a problem with our iSeries Access for Windows setup on the CBU. After signing on to the problem machine, we found this message in the QSYSOPR message queue.
CPFE973 - Expiration date 04/24/10 was reached
The message help text explained that IBM licensed program product (LPP) 5722XW1, feature code 5101, had an expired license. This explained why we couldn’t start a PC5250 session. Before we called tech support, I wanted to see if any other IBM LPPs besides iSeries Access for Windows had expired. So I ran the following Display Log command (DSPLOG) to search for system messages about other LPPs whose product license key had expired.
DSPLOG PERIOD((*AVAIL *BEGIN)) MSGID(CPFE973)
And sure enough, the following IBM license program product keys had also expired suddenly. Moreover, each product had expired on the same day.
5722SS1, product option 5114 - PSF Any Speed Printer Support 5722QU1, product option 5050 - Query for iSeries 5722WDS, product option 5050 - WDS for iSeries 5722XW1, product option 5101 - iSeries Access Option 1
Clearly something was going on here.
What Happened and Why It Can Happen To You
Armed with this knowledge, we contacted our business partner. He told us that IBM policy requires that backup licensed programs expire every two years and that we had to get new keys. This fit our symptoms since we activated this CBU in April of 2008 and the keys had expired on April 24, 2010. Getting the new keys is a no charge administrative function with IBM that our business partner performed for us. After we installed the new keys, our LPPs started working again and we were once again able to start PC5250 green-screen sessions with the CBU.
However, this begs the question: Why does IBM do this? What is the purpose of expiring customer CBU keys after two years? I got on a conference call with IBM CBU Technical Support and the IBM License Key Center. They confirmed that it is IBM policy to automatically expire CBU backup license program keys after two years. At which time, the customer must contact their business partner to obtain new keys for these products. In my case, the four products that expired must have been licensed as backup products for the CBU.
I asked the techs if they knew why IBM had instituted this policy and they said no. I then asked IBM if they had any documentation, announcements, tech notes, etc., explaining the two-year expiration policy. The IBM techs asked around the License Key Center and the answer was. . . well, no, no one really has any idea why Big Blue is doing this. It’s just company policy. But, hey, it’s easily fixable by calling your business partner when you discover it and having your business partner get you new keys.
So if any IBM-connected readers out there or even someone from IBM itself knows why the company uses this unproductive policy of expiring products on a backup machine every two years, please write me via the IT Jungle Contact page and let me know. I’ll include your reply in a future column.
So What Have We Learned and How Does It Affect You?
To recap, IBM has a nonsensical policy where just for the heck of it, Big Blue automatically expires backup licenses of IBM licensed program products on customer CBUs every two years. There is no automatic notification of the expirations for the customer, the business partner, or IBM, and the customer must discover the expired products himself. Once found, the customer must then contact the business partner who will issue new license keys because it’s no big deal to IBM to relicense the product. IBM cannot explain why the products need to expire; it just knows that they must expire on schedule.
So if you have a CBU, I recommend that you check the expiration dates on your LPPs once a year (the same as you would for refrigerated dairy products). If you find a product that’s near its expiration date or has already expired, contact your business partner who will then routinely get you new keys and instructions for applying them.
Note that this issue only affects CBUs where there may be special licensing for LPPs that are used whenever you run a switch test or are used when you activate the CBU to stand in for a production machine during an emergency. And that’s where the problem is. If you don’t realize that your keys are expired and you need to activate the CBU, critical user functions such as PC5250 may not work when you need them. You and your business partner are then going to have to hustle to reactivate your keys for testing or emergency switch over.
In my humble opinion, this is a fairly irresponsible policy on IBM’s part because i/OS shops rely on their CBU always being ready for an emergency. A typical iSeries, System i, or Power i machine (including CBUs) generally runs for a minimum of three years before being upgraded. To arbitrarily expire needed CBU licensed products after two years guarantees that all CBUs will have to deal with this issue at least once in the life of their machines. This policy affects everyone with a CBU and I would encourage IBM to change it for the needs of their customers.
Checking For Licensed Product Key Expiration
To get ahead of the curve and determine when your licensed program products will expire, you can check the expiration dates on your IBM LPPs by taking the following steps.
1. Bring up all the licensing information for your IBM and non-IBM LPPs by running the Work with License Information command:
This will bring up a screen similar to the following:
Work with License Information 05/12/10 21:36:11 System serial number . . . . . . . . . : 1099999 Processor group . . . . . . . . . . . : P20 Type options, press Enter. 1=Add license key 2=Change 5=Display detail 6=Print detail 8=Work with license users ... License Opt Product Term Feature Description 5722SS1 V5R4M0 5050 i5/OS 5722SS1 V5 5051 i5/OS 5722SS1 V5R4M0 5103 Media and Storage Extensions 5722SS1 V5 5109 NetWare Enhanced Integration 5722SS1 V5R4M0 5112 PSF 1-45 IPM Printer Support 5722SS1 V5R4M0 5113 PSF 1-100 IPM Printer Support 5722SS1 V5R4M0 5114 PSF Any Speed Printer Support
2. Place a 5=Display detail in front of each entry on this screen to view the license key information for your products. Page down to the second page of the screen to view the Expiration date in the Keyed compliance information area. The keyed compliance information might look something like this:
Display License Information Product ID . . . . . . . . : 5722XW1 License term . . . . . . . : V5R4M0 Feature . . . . . . . . . . : 5101 Description . . . . . . . . : iSeries Access Option 1 Log violations . . . . . . : *NO Message queue/Library . . . : *NONE Keyed compliance information: Expiration date . . . . . : 05/04/12 Grace period . . . . . . : 70 Date grace period expires : *NONE
3. If you find that any LPPs have expired or are about to expire, contact your business partner to generate new keys for the next two years.