IBM recently announced some significant changes to their AIX Release and Service Delivery strategy. Starting February 2011, the following changes will apply for both AIX 6 and AIX 7.

Three years of support for each Technology Level (TL).

A single Technology Level per AIX version, per year.

Service Packs will be released approximately 4 times per year per Technology Level.

Some of the benefits of the new strategy are:

More closely matches client deployment requirements.

Single Technology Level per year, per version, and about one Service Pack per quarter.

Fewer updates reduce administrative workload.

New hardware is supported on prior Technology Levels.

Easier integration of new hardware into existing environments.

You can review the official presentation and details here. I particularly like this FAQ from the presentation.

Q: Why doesnt the new strategy include AIX V5.3?

A: AIX V5.3 is nearing end of life with the End of Marketing for AIX V5.3 set for April 2011

So if you are on AIX 5.3, start planning a migration to AIX 7.1 (or at least AIX 6.1), NOW! Ive provided some further information from the presentation below.



Longer Support for each Technology Level

The 2011 Release Strategy extends the support for each Technology Level for up to three years from the introduction of the Technology Level. This means that clients with a Software Maintenance Agreement for the AIX OS will receive IBM defect support during that two year period without having to move up to the latest Technology Level update.

For example, a Technology Level introduced in the second half of 2010 will be supported though the second half of 2013. Since each Technology Level will be supported for three years and IBM plans to release one Technology Level per year, IBM eventually will support up to six Technology Levels for each AIX release. Please note that due to minor variations in release dates, some Technology Levels will be supported for slightly more that three years and some will be supported for slightly less than three years. A three year service life for each Technology Level is an objective, not an absolute limit.

Fewer Technology Levels and Fewer Service Packs

Historically, new Technology Levels were the only way to deliver new hardware support to clients. Since 2007, we have supported most new hardware on previous Technology Levels via a service pack. Since this new approach to supporting new hardware has been well proven with the introduction of POWER7 in 2010, we decided to eliminate the Spring Technology Level which reduces the number of updates clients have to deal with. The number of Service Packs has been about 5 per year and we want to reduce this number to about once per quarter.


Between Technology Level releases, clients maintain their AIX operating systems by installing Service Packs (SP) or Interim Fixes for the entire support life of the Technology Level update. Service Packs are also used to provide support for newly released hardware.

The release dates and frequency of Service Packs are variable due to many factors. including new Technology Level releases, new hardware introduction and the need to deliver software fixes.

In the past IBM delivered new Service Packs about every eight to twelve weeks or about five to eight times per year per Technology Level. With the 2011 release strategy, IBM intends to reduce the number of Service Packs released per year, per AIX release to about four. As stated earlier, there are many factors that drive the release of a Service Pack, so releasing four Service Packs per year, per Technology Level represents a goal and objective, but not an absolute limit.

Note that new Technology Levels are almost always accompanied very closely by the first Service Pack for that new Technology Level. This first Service Pack includes fixes to problems that are discovered between the time the new Technology Level is released to manufacturing for the media to be replicated and the time the new Technology Level is actually available to clients.


The providers of all software, including platform software such as the AIX operating system, must balance the clients need for stability against the need to enhance the software to provide new functionality. The changes introduced with the AIX OS Release and Service Strategy of 2011 balances those two conflicting goals to help provide our clients with significant improvements in the manageability of the AIX operating system.

The increased service life, better manageability and support for new hardware on older fix levels provided by the new strategy are in direct response to our clients requirements.

As stated earlier, this new strategy represents goals and objectives of IBM and is subject to change. Our clients understand that substantial changes such as this new strategy are an indication of the commitment that IBM has to improving the market leading capabilities of the AIX operating system.

For more information and best practices please refer to: