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25.3 Working with IBM WebSphere Support

There are times when you need to work with IBM WebSphere support personnel to troubleshoot a WebSphere problem. The goal of this section is to familiarize you with the process of resolving a WebSphere problem with the help of IBM WebSphere support. We will tell you how to open a Problem Management Record (PMR), what information to have ready, and when you should involve IBM support to resolve a WebSphere problem.

25.3.1 When to Involve WebSphere Support

You have already tried to solve the problem by yourself. By now, you have searched the WebSphere support Web site, newsgroups, WebSphere Developer Domain, and other resources in order to determine if this is a known problem. You have also checked the latest WebSphere fix packs and interim fixes. Unfortunately you haven't found a match. It's time to engage IBM WebSphere customer support.

25.3.2 How to Open a PMR

There are two ways to open a Problem Management Record (PMR). You can submit an electronic PMR using the Electronic Service Request (ESR) tool, or you can call IBM customer support (1-800-IBM-SERV). ESR is a Web-based problem submission tool and is available from the problem submission page at http://www.ibm.com/software/support/probsub.html. In order to use the ESR tool, you have to be enrolled in the IBM Passport Advantage Program and be registered as an authorized caller. Authorized callers are registered by the site technical contact, a person in your company who is responsible for maintaining the list of persons (in your company) authorized to use the ESR tool for problem submission. Once your site technical contact adds you as an authorized caller, you will be able to use the problem submission page to create a user ID and password. The user ID and password will be required to access the ESR tool. The ESR tool allows you to open new PMRs, as well as work with your existing PMRs.

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The IBM Customer Number or Customer ID consists of 7 or 10 digits and is used to identify an IBM Passport Advantage support contract for a customer. Your company may have several contracts. Check with your site technical contact to determine the correct IBM Customer Number or Customer ID to use.

The following steps are required to submit a new PMR:

  1. Click on your customer number.

  2. Click on the Report a New Problem button.

  3. Select the product for which you want the PMR to be created.

  4. Select a component from the drop down list.

  5. If necessary, edit the contact information in the Report a New Problem page.

  6. Complete the rest of the fields in the Report a New Problem: Environment, Severity, Problem description, etc.

  7. Click on Submit Problem Report. A page confirming that your PMR has been submitted to a support queue will be displayed.

Once the queued PMR is processed, a PMR number will be assigned to it and e-mailed to you. Keep this PMR number handy since you will need it every time you update the PMR or talk to IBM support.

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The list of products and the list of components for which you can open PMRs can be quite long. You can use the Product Search and Component Search functions to find a specific product or component.

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You can create and update a user profile in the ESR tool, with personal information like your phone number, e-mail, pager, and so forth. This profile will be used when you submit a PMR via the ESR tool. To access your profile, go to Update Maintenance Agreements from the main support page.

Figure 25.3 illustrates the ESR page that allows you to create a new PMR.

Figure 25.3Figure 25.3 ESR page for creating a new PMR.

The other way to submit a PMR is to call IBM customer support (1-800-IBM-SERV). When you call IBM customer support, you will also need information such as your company's customer number, product, component, and so forth, similar to the information required by the ESR tool.

25.3.3 What Information to Have Ready

No matter how you open the PMR, electronically or by phone, you will need to provide information that will help the support personnel resolve your problem. Needless to say, you should be as specific as possible when describing the details of the problem. If you can re-create the problem, make sure you document the steps for IBM support. Also, gather as much background information as possible. For example, don't forget to specify what your environment is, what WebSphere fix packs you have installed, what Operating System and version you run, what changes you made to the system, and so on. If any messages or errors were logged, send these logs to IBM support. Any relevant information will help the IBM support personnel resolve your problem as quickly as possible. Basic background information is often missing from the PMR description, and this can significantly increase problem resolution time.

Another important piece of information you will be required to provide is the severity of the problem. Use the business impact as measure for determining the problem severity. For example, the most severe problems, those having a critical business impact, should be assigned a severity 1, while minor problems should have a severity 4.

It may also be useful to run the collector tool and have the output jar file ready to send to the IBM support personnel. For more information about the collector tool, refer to chapter 7, Getting Started with WebSphere—An Overview.

25.3.4 What to Expect

If a WebSphere defect is found, then an Authorized Program Analysis Report (APAR) is created for this problem. If a workaround can be implemented while the APAR is resolved, and before the fix is delivered, then IBM Support will provide instructions on how to do this. Note that making a fix available requires time-consuming operations such as comprehensive testing, packaging, and so on.

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