Partner Support Handbook
'IBM Lotus Foundations Value Added Resellers' Program
Introduction: Is This Handbook for You?
This handbook discusses the specialized support programs and routes available only to specialized IBM Business Partners and Value Added Distributors who contractually agree to be Support Providers for Lotus Foundations.
A registered Support Provider for Lotus Foundations (hereafter: 'SuPLF Partners') is a special breed of partner. It is an IBM Business Partner who becomes a Lotus Foundations Value Added Reseller or support-providing Value Added Distributor by signing the Support Provider Agreement for IBM Lotus Foundations Value Added Resellers terms, in addition to the standard PartnerWorld and STG Reseller agreements. In exchange agreeing to deliver specialized support and services for SMB customers, SuPLF Partners become authorized to sell limited-distribution Foundations software. These limited distribution software parts have specialized partner support entitlements, support routing and price margins when compared to IBM Passport offerings.
If you are an end-user customer, we advise you should turn to your Partner or Reseller to verify your proper route to support. This handbook is not for you.
If you are an IBM Business Partner / Reseller, but not a Registered Support Provider for Lotus Foundations Partner, this handbook is not for you. Use your normal IBM Passport and IBM Hardware Support contact points to help your customers.
Nitix Heritage Partners, this handbook is applicable to you. Except where noted, "Lotus Foundations' also applies to 'Nitix' heritage branded product. Also, additional material specific to heritage Nitix-branded product is included which applies to you.
OEM / ISP / ASL / VAD Partners, this handbook is applicable to you if your agreement 1) indicates your Support team is being provided 'appliance support' and 'limited distribution parts' from IBM for your hardware and software solution, or 2) the agreement explicitly directs your company via a URL link to use some or all of this Handbook.
Contacting IBM for SuPLF Technical Support
SuPLF Foundations Partners receive SMB focused single-point-of-contact (SPOC) technical assistance from IBM. In doing so, IBM assists our SuPLF Partners in their obligation to provide an integrated support experience to their customers for both the software and hardware elements of any Foundations deployment they sell.
Steps to take before contacting IBM
As a SuPLF Partner, you must research your customer's issue using all relevant Product documentation and attempt to resolve the issue using the IBM Knowledgebase troubleshooting material prior to contacting IBM. Our Knowledgebase contains a large library of Foundations and Nitix technical information.
After May 21, 2009, the heritage Nitix Knowledgebase will no longer serve as the primary support tool for Lotus Foundations technical information. We will continue to display articles there; however, it will be phased out by the end of May 2009 in favor of the IBM Support site and the Lotus Foundations Wiki. We encourage all Partners to begin using these new resources as we move into May.
IBM Support site - menu driven support tool for querying specific Lotus Foundations or Nitix support questions and troubleshooting material:
Lotus Foundations Wiki - information source containing detailed how-to guides and walkthroughs for Lotus Foundations technical operations. The Wiki also contains a number of articles to which you can contribute:
Foundations Support Home Page - bookmark this new home page, which provides links to the IBM Knowledge Portal search, highlights hot support topics, and more. Note this contains both SuPLF and Passport material, so be aware of which offering type you are referencing:
The IBM Support site search contains a wealth of information on numerous IBM products. Partners should limit their searches to 'Lotus Foundations' and 'Nitix Products' when using the search focus drop-down menus.
How SuPLF Partners contact IBM for Support
SuPLF Partners with an active SuPLF software entitlement can contact the Foundations SPOC team as follows, for both Foundations software and Foundations appliance-certified IBM hardware. When contacting IBM via these methods, always provide your SuPLF Partner IBM Customer Number (ICN). This ICN was sent to you when you initially ordered the limited distribution software on behalf of your customer:
Foundations and Nitix Products - Electronic Incidents - Worldwide
Submit electronic incidents in the IBM Service Requests portlet
Nitix Legacy Branded Products - Voice - Worldwide
Phone us at:
1-866-384-8324; toll free to US and Canada customers; Mon-Fri, 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM ET (excluding holidays)
(Outside the US and Canada call 416-478-3336. Applicable toll charges will apply).
IBM Foundations Products - US, Canada
Phone us at:
1-866-384-8324; toll free to US and Canada customers; Mon-Fri, 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM ET (excluding holidays)
IBM Foundations Products - Europe
Phone us at the Europe in-country numbers and hours as shown in:
BEST PRACTICE - CRITICAL ISSUES: For 'site down' type critical issues, assistance is available to SuPLF Partners 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For such issues, always use the IBM Service Requests portlet to submit electronic incidents. It will route you to SPOC assistance from teams familiar with Foundations hardware and software interaction. It also gives you business-hour and non-business-hour options to contact the IBM Hardware Team directly if you have a critical IBM-hardware-specific issue and you want to utilize a GTS Service Pack, or, trigger an after-hours Hardware-only Critical Issue direct with IBM hardware teams. Note however that calls you initially open directly with IBM Hardware Support teams are not tracked as 'Single Point of Contact' solutions support PMRs, nor are they serviced by the specialized Foundations SuPLF Level-2 Support teams.
End User Support
End Users are not entitled to contact the IBM Foundations SPOC team for technical support. They usually receive technical support directly from their Foundations Partner.
End User sites who want Foundations support directly from IBM must do so by purchasing End User support with a Passport edition of the software -- or an IBM-distribution of IBM hardware -- though an IBM authorized source. All support secured in this way is segregated between hardware and software. End User hardware support is secured via applicable IBM STG/GTS Hardware support entitlements and offerings, while End User software support is delivered separately by IBM through the terms and offerings of the IBM Passport programs. Such End Users and their agents contact IBM using the contact information provided in the IBM Support entitlement materials they receive at time-of-purchase; they are not entitled to use the Foundations SPOC route reserved for our Registered SuPLF Partners.
Limited Distribution SuPLF Software and "Certified Hardware"
SuPLF Partners are entitled to order special software parts via the Foundations Order Desk. These software SKUs, when mated with designated IBM Machine Types, allow IBM to support our SuPLF partners with a unified 'appliance-level' hardware + software support approach via our SPOC. Currently, the IBM Machine Type 9234 and certain System x 3200M3 series models are the only IBM branded machines for which SuPLF Partners are obligated to provide 'IBM onsite hardware technical contact' responsibilities. These models are also the only machines where Appliance level SPOC support is provided from IBM Level-2 to our SuPLF Partners. For System x 3200M3 series configuration guidance and a list of other 'certified' and 'supported' hardware, refer to the technote Certified and Supported Hardware Types for Lotus Foundations.
Supported Hardware is an assemblage of non-certified component hardware and server hardware the Foundations Start self burn-in test indicates is suitable at time of installation, or, which is published by IBM Support as "Foundation Supported". These Foundations deployments are considered Supported but Not Certified. IBM will attempt to offer technical support and provide software maintenance fixes to promote the successful operation of the Foundations software. However, IBM reserves the right to discontinue support or defect fix efforts to make your particular hardware component, hardware driver or server configuration function with Foundations. You as a SuPLF are responsible for serving as Technical Contact to your end-users for the non-certified or 3rd party hardware elements of the deployment, assisting your customers to connect with a proper hardware Support provider. You are responsible to implement any necessary support agreements with that 3rd party / uncertified hardware vendor to keep their deployment running -- in compliance with the terms you crafted to support that end user.
Universal Support Responsibilities of a SuPLF Partner
By signing and abiding by the Foundations Support Provider Agreement, you obligate your firm to serve as the Site Technical Contact for both hardware and software for all your End Users - and - serve as Software Level 1 Support Provider. In exchange for fulfilling these roles, SuPLF Foundations Partners gain the right to access IBM's Foundations hardware + software SPOC support teams.
Per the Foundations Support Agreement: SuPLF's must (i) deploy consistently available IADP Support Resources collectively possessing a broad, general degree of expertise for all supported Products, including thorough knowledge of Product interdependencies and relationships for all supported software Programs and Machines (ii) provide Machine and software Site Technical Contact services for your End User sites, and (iii) provide software Product Level 1 Support to End Users.
You will contact the IBM team via the routes outlined under the Contacting IBM for SuPLF Partner Technical Support section above, citing your software entitlement ICN for the Foundations Partner program software offering to verify your SPOC entitlement on behalf of any particular End User site.
Site Technical Contact role - Hardware and Software
All SuPLF Partners agree to assign and maintain a Site Technical Contact for each of your customer sites for both Machine (hardware) and software issues relating to the Product(s) deployed. The Site Technical Contact is responsible to:
- Maintain technical expertise and capacity sufficient to execute Machine and software troubleshooting or diagnostic instructions as directed by IBM Level-1 or Level-2 Support personnel, and when necessary, the capacity to execute those instructions onsite wherever an incident occurs.
- Interact with the End User in their desired language, and translate or document aspects relevant to technical support in English when your Site Technical Contact or Level-1 personnel interact with IBM Support.
- Provide your Customers updates to the Programs and assist your customers to deploy updates as they are made available to you by IBM, while subscription and support is in effect for a software program license.
- When the Product deployment includes a certified IBM Machine, assist your customers to deploy updates and Customer Replaceable Unit (CRU) parts as they are made available to you by IBM, while Warranty or Support is in effect.
- Accurately reflect turnaround times from IBM to you, versus you to the End User; explain differences in response guidelines in your offering to the customer versus IBM's response guidelines to you (when different).
Level 1 Support Provider role - Software
Level 1 Support includes performing the following activities during customary local business hours in the end user's time zone, communicating to IBM in English and referencing IBM troubleshooting materials in English on behalf of the customer.
- Identify to IBM the name of the designated Support Resource responsible for coordinating communication with IBM relating to Support for the Programs
Assign sufficient Support Resources based on Call volume to staff a help desk through which End Users can:
- report problems with Programs during coverage hours in the End User Time Zone;
- receive highly responsive technical support for their use of Programs exclusively from Support Provider as the sole End User interface for technical support for the Programs;
- Within one hundred and twenty (120) days after the Effective Date, and after each new Program version or release, deploy at least one (1) English-proficient IADP Resource as part of the resources manning the help desk during each shift; ensure that all Calls are logged, assigned an initial Severity Level, handled, documented and if necessary, escalated to Level 2 Support in accordance with IBM standards. Permit only English-proficient Support Resources to contact IBM to discuss technical support issues or escalate problems to IBM Support.
- Provide primary support for installation activities, including configuration problems, installation-related problems, and post-installation reconfiguration for all Programs installed by or on behalf of End Users
Be the first point of contact for any technical support inquiry from your End Users, fulfilling the following roles:
- Qualify incoming incidents: Determine if the request is for a new or existing case. Assign a priority to a new case (priority one through priority four). For existing cases, obtain case information and be aware of it before contacting IBM Level-2.
- Verify the Version and Release of any Program(s) for which a problem is reported
Verify reported problems, including, but not limited to, discovering and documenting the following:
- End User's log/error message history
- Whether the End User has the correct version of the Program and the operating system, including all patches
- Whether the End User has the correct version of Documentation
- Outstanding trouble tickets
- Inter-server communication integrity
- Classify a reported problem as a Machine, software, driver and/or configuration problem
- Search all IBM technical knowledge bases and product documentation made available to you for the Program and Machine. Attempt to apply any fix or workaround documented in the IBM Foundations support knowledgebase and product documentation
- Troubleshoot a reported problem using diagnostic utilities provided by IBM
Escalate any reported problem that remains unresolved after performing all Level 1 Support activities to IBM Foundations Level 2 Support. If it is determined to be an IBM Program problem and knowledgebase or documentation steps fail to resolve the incident, document the attempts and the results. In the event such a fix or workaround fails, contact IBM Foundations technical support.
- For new cases, open a case and select a priority.
- For existing cases, state the case number. Provide the case information you have gathered to the support engineer.
- Continue executing troubleshooting with or through the Site Technical Contact and IBM Support until incident resolution
- Incorporate and test any Program fix provided by IBM Level 2 Support (as appropriate), and deliver or communicate the problem resolution, bypass, circumvention, or other notice of restriction to the End User.
Optional AWSP Support Responsibilities of a SuPLF Partner
In addition to the required responsibility to serve as the Site Technical Contact and Level-1 Software Support contact to the end user, SuPLF Partners may optionally sign up to participate in the IBM Authorized Warranty Service Provider program for those IBM machine types certified for use with Lotus Foundations. This gives you the option to provide more seamless support to your customer sites, and incorporate the partner margins and support options available to AWSP's to craft a more sophisticated or competitive support offering between you and your end-user customers.
A Note about 'Standard' versus 'SPOC' Hardware Support.
Standard IBM hardware warranties and service agreements exist, and need to be kept current for the duration of time you expect to receive warranty or replacement service on a site's IBM hardware elements.
When active, these standard offerings can be exercised to contact standard IBM hardware support teams for all IBM hardware that is certified for use with Foundations Software, in cases where the SuPLF Partner software program entitlement associated with the appliance installation has lapsed.
Utilizing 'standard' IBM hardware support for such issues should be the exception however, not the rule. Such support does not provide a unified SMB-focused set of tools, or leverage the tight interaction between hardware and various autonomic and troubleshooting features in the IBM Foundations Software.
See the Contacting IBM for SuPLF Partner Technical Support section of this guide for best practices on contacting IBM for hardware, software and critical issue support.
Guidelines Regarding the Level 2 Support IBM Provides
Level 2 Support means the advanced service provided by IBM to analyze and repeat the error, or to determine that the error is not repeatable. This service includes in-depth technical analysis and defect isolation / workarounds beyond that documented in materials made available to Level-1 support providers. Provided the configuration of Foundations is implemented exclusively via our WebConfig Interface, the scope of Level-2 Support from our IBM SPOC to SuPLF Partners generally includes:
Exceptions and Exemptions
Foundations Only Support. IBM Lotus Foundations support provides technical support for its own Foundations family products. IBM is not obligated to provide free or paid technical support for third party products or peripherals that may be used in conjunction with our offerings.
Value-Add Applications. You must provide all support for your Value-Add Component Application(s). Guidelines for ach party's support responsibilities regarding such programs are:
For all Program licenses you distribute, you or your distributors will provide Level 1 and Level 2 Support to Customers. For Program licenses not covered under Maintenance, IBM will only provide you access to IBM databases containing information on known Program defects, defect corrections, restrictions, and bypasses for the unmodified portion of Programs. You agree to be the interface to Customers for this service. For Program licenses covered under Maintenance, IBM will provide the support to you as described in the relevant contracts, and you agree to be the interface to Customers for this support.
Third-Party Applications. You must facilitate and inform customers in how to receive technical support from non-IBM third-parties for any third-party applications you help the customer purchase or deploy. Some parts you have ordered from IBM or secured independently of IBM may be third party vendor applications developed and supported by companies other than IBM. IBM does not provide support for these vendor applications. Partners and/or end users should seek support for these applications from the vendor(s) who created them.
Education Requirements for SuPLF Partners
The 'IBM Authorized Deployment Professional'
"IBM Authorized Deployment Professional" or "IADP" means an individual who (i) has received the current training and passed the available qualifying examination(s) with respect to the most up-to-date Version of a Product (or Products) and (ii) has been authorized by IBM as an "IADP" with respect to that Version (or Versions).
SuPLF Partners are required to have at least one technical staff member employed at all times who has fulfilled (and kept up to date on) the required education outlined in this section.
Within one hundred and twenty (120) days after signing the Support Provider Agreement, and after each new Program version or release, Foundations Partners agree to deploy at least one English-proficient IADP Resource as part of the resources manning the help desk during each shift; ensuring that all Calls are logged, assigned an initial Severity Level, handled, documented and if necessary, escalated to IBM Level 2 Support.
Primary Education Route: Technical Workshops for SuPLF Partners
Completing one of the two following courses satisfies the IADP's initial requirement for education under the SuPLF Partner agreement. These specific resources, and many others, are available to you at no charge as an IBM PartnerWorld member. Some other courses and offerings are available for a fee.
IBM Lotus Foundations Start (One-Day) Technical Workshop
Duration: One business day
This workshop provides an overview of Lotus Foundations architecture, features, installation, configuration and management, including application development and running Microsoft Windows applications on IBM Lotus Foundations. This workshop is offered in three formats - traditional classroom (in IBM Innovation Centers in various countries), Virtual (Online group-directed), and self-paced. See PartnerWorld - IIC - Lotus for schedules for IIC Classroom sessions and Virtual-Online sessions.
IBM Lotus Foundations Start Technical Two-day Workshop (Online)
Duration: Two business days
Course Code: LND-146T-EN (Virtual Innovation Center)
This technical workshop is for the technical staff of consultants, system integrators, technical sales associates and software vendors. After completing this course the student should be able to install, configure, feature enable, maintain and restore IBM Lotus Foundations Start. This course was offered in 2008 via traditional classroom (in IICs), and Virtual (Online); now available self-paced via the VIC.
Details: About the Required VIC Courseware described above
The Virtual Innovation Center (VIC), which contains many resources and courses relevant to Foundations and IBM Products, is accessed via IBM PartnerWorld at:
The first time you sign on to the VIC, you are prompted to select at least one content view to be able to use the VIC. When a view is selected, the resources associated with that view will be available to you. You can find the Lotus Foundations Start Online courses via the "Online Training" section:
View all courses by Product (then select Lotus)
Alternate Education Route: Courseware for SuPLF AWSP Partners
For Partners who wish to go beyond the required roles of 'Level-1 software support' and 'site technical contact for hardware and software' to also include 'IBM hardware service provider', opening another route of value-add and service for your customers, you have the option to sign up for the "IBM Authorized Hardware Warranty Service Provider" program (AWSP) in addition to your other registrations.
Because AWSP is an "additional" capstone role, taking this AWSP course satisfies both the hardware and software technical requirements to perform your support duties as a Foundations Partner. If you complete the AWSP course, you will not be required to also take the Workshop courses outlined in the "Primary Education Route' section above. (However, many AWSP partners will choose to take both a workshop and the AWSP course, to provide the best possible service to their customers).
IBM Lotus Foundations Machine type 9234 Service Course
Duration: Four hours (online self-paced)
This course is available after you have registered for the basic Hardware reseller role, then signed up for the optional Authorized Warranty Service Provider program. It is an electronic self paced course that includes key lessons to enable more advanced hardware and field service mastery, as well as some Level-1 software support troubleshooting basics.
Once you are registered by IBM in the Warranty Service Provider Program, you will be provided with an 800 number to a help desk. They will assist you with understanding replacement part ordering and where to find the Service Course at the IBM AWSP Training Site. After passing the Foundations Server Service Course quiz, you will be considered an Authorized Warranty Service Provider (AWSP) for the IBM Lotus Foundations Server machine type, and, a Foundations SuPLF IADP.
For information on applying to AWSP, IBM hardware reseller programs, or AWSP training arrangements, you may contact IBM (in the US and Canada) at 800-426-7299.
NOTE: AWSP registration and courseware is now available for the IBM 9234 certified machine type as of November 2009.
IBM Software Subscription and Support
For each Lotus Foundations Program license with Subscription and Support in effect, IBM will:
- Make available to you and authorize you to upgrade to the most current commercially available version, release, or update, should any be made available;
- provide you with English Level-2 support assistance for your code and defect related questions;
- provide you with English Level-2 support assistance via telephone and, if available, electronic access, to your trained Level-1 support personnel during the normal business hours (published prime shift hours) of the IBM Lotus Foundations SPOC support center. (This assistance is not available to your Customers).
provide you Severity 1 assistance in English 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The IBM support specified in the paragraph above may not be available for down-level versions or releases of Programs.
Program Maintenance does not include assistance for:
- design and development of applications;
- use of Programs in other than their specified operating environment and configuration; or
- failures in, or caused by, products for which IBM is not responsible.
If IBM withdraws Maintenance for a particular Program, IBM will not make Maintenance Renewal available for that Program; and if you renewed Maintenance for that Program license prior to the notice, IBM, at its sole discretion, will either continue to provide Maintenance to you for that Program license until the end of the then current coverage period or give you a prorated refund.
Support Lifecycle Policy - Lotus Foundations Software Expiration
The IBM Software Support Lifecycle policy specifies the length of time support will be available for IBM software from when the product is available for purchase to the time the product is no longer supported. IBM Lotus Foundations software customers can see how and when this policy applies to individual Lotus Foundations software offerings and versions at:
Heritage 'Nitix' Software Assurance and Warranty Expiration
Heritage hardware warranty and software assurance previously sold under Nitix-branded agreements is honored by IBM and the reselling partner until its stated expiration. Further extensions for heritage Nitix-branded servers or software are no longer available. Nitix heritage End User sites may contact their Foundations Solutions Partner (or IBM) to explore available IBM Foundations software and hardware migration or upgrade options.
Heritage 'Nitix' Hardware
New sales of heritage Nitix or 'Net Integrations' branded hardware certified for use with Foundations has been discontinued. The new generation of Foundations-certified hardware for use in appliance deployments is IBM Branded hardware.
Support and RMA of legacy Nitix hardware will continue, within the limits discussed in this Handbook. Partners with active hardware should also have accompanying active Nitix software, therefore providing you with an ICN for the full appliance deployment. For support with said Nitix hardware in Nitix legacy hardware and software deployments, contact the SPOC help desk with your Nitix-mapped ICN provided by IBM per the instructions in this Handbook's Contacting IBM for SuPLF Technical Support section.
Hardware warranty and support for IBM hardware are addressed throughout this Handbook, and in the IBM Hardware Reseller and AWSP collateral provided to you upon signing up to distribute and/or support IBM Foundations Certified Hardware under those programs.
Software Fix Distribution
Fixes and Program Updates for the Foundations Core, heritage Nitix Core and select additional components are downloaded to end-user sites and made available for one-click installation via the dial-home features in the Foundations SoftUpdate feature.
Fixes and Updates for 'payload' distributed with Foundations -- such as the Domino, Notes and iNotes elements of "Foundations Start" -- are distributed via downloadable packaged fixes that are wrappered specifically for installation on Foundations servers.
This means: Fixes and code updates that apply to the Foundations SuPLF limited distribution parts are not the same as those which apply to 'standard unlimited' Domino, Notes, or other non-Foundations and non-Nitix products typically deployed in Enterprises. Consult with the IBM Foundations SPOC Support team for details on what Foundations fixes may be applicable and how to download or apply them, should you have any questions.
Foundations Software License Activation Keys
License keys continue to be required to fully activate Lotus Foundations functionality and licensing. (This is true for both the SuPLF limited distribution copies of the software, and, the Passport edition which is not addressed in this Handbook).
After you place an order on behalf of your customer, this license key is provided in an email from IBMLotusFoundations_Ops@us.ibm.com which will fully activate all of the purchased features. Please cut and paste this activation key into the Software Update page on the IBM Lotus Foundations Web Configuration screen. This needs to be completed prior to 30 days from the initial installation of the software to ensure continued operation. If you have not received your software activation key, please call (866) 384-8324 and select Option 2.
Disclaimer: This Handbook is a summary of various guidelines and goals relating to IBM technical support for Foundations, as provided to registered Support Providers for Lotus Foundations (SuPLF). IBM reserves the right to change the contents of this Handbook at any time. Where descriptions in this Handbook conflict with any agreement or other official communication regarding responsibilities of SuPLF Partners or IBM, that agreement or communication takes precedence.