IBM i Work Problem Feature Unemployed For Software Faults
July 31, 2023 Timothy Prickett Morgan
One of the true differentiations of the AS/400 platform launched 35 years ago was Electronic Customer Support, which at the time involved remote diagnostics and the ability of the machine to reach out over a modem – remember, there was no commercial Internet yet – to connect directly to IBM and report problems as they were happening.
After three and a half decades, there are a lot of different components and features of the IBM i-Power Systems Electronic Customer Support (ECS) and Electronic Service Agent (ESA) customer care services, way beyond what was available in the original ECS. But recently, as some business partners have made us aware of, IBM has made a big change with the Work Problem (WRKPRB) command in IBM i. The WRKPRB feature monitors all kinds of issues with the Power Systems hardware and the entire IBM i software stack and dumps all of the telemetry and error messages into a single place. This core dump for issues has not changed, and that is not the problem.
The problem is, these business partners tell us, the vast majority of the issues that happen with the IBM i platform occur with the software, not the underlying hardware, which stands to reason. If hardware works, it works for a long time – right up to the moment it doesn’t. Software, on the other hand, is always changing, and therefore there are more things that can – and do – go wrong.
With the reporting function in WRKPRB, there was a simple, one-click way to highlight a problem and create a trouble ticket that went upstream to IBM technical support. Ditto for hardware issues. But now, for some reason, as we see in this announcement, the WRKPRB feature can no longer can automagically report software issues to IBM technical support, as has been the case for a long time. Starting with IBM i 7.5, this ability to report software issues was removed, and now with IBM i 7.4 and older releases and versions, this is also disabled within WRKPRB. This “call home” feature will still work for hardware problems, but for software issues, customers need to manually open a trouble ticket through the IBM Support Portal, extracting he information from the WRKPRB core dump.
Go figure. Perhaps we can get IBM to explain.