IBM Electronic Support

All about inventories

Submit an inventory

There are multiple ways to submit a scanned inventory to IBM Support.

Electronic Service Agent

The Electronic Service Agent (ESA), which is available for numerous IBM hardware platforms, automatically uploads your machine inventory to IBM, usually weekly. Some platforms already contain ESA pre-installed; if not, you may check for ESA availability for your machine.

ESA can be configured to automatically submit problem reports when the machine encounters an error. You must include an IBM ID when configuring ESA. You can add additional users to a machine using the Services administration link on the IBM Support Portal. You will see the Services administration link appear on the My Support Programs section on the Support Portal home page after the first inventory submission has been successfully processed.

IBM Support Assistant

The IBM Support Assistant (ISA) can help collect diagnostic data when problems occur with your IBM Software products. ISA is bundled with many software products or you can download a stand alone instance of ISA.

When you encounter a software product problem, ISA allows you to gather data about the machine that encountered the problem. For some software products, this data includes an inventory of the software on the machine, which is automatically processed when you use ISA to submit the diagnostic data. To view the inventory data, you must be authorized in IBM Service Request to the same IBM Customer Number (ICN) that was included with the ISA data submission.

Manual inventory upload

You can also manually upload an inventory file on IBM Fix Central. You must sign in to store the inventory for future use in Fix Central and other support applications. Manually uploaded inventories can only be accessed by the person who uploaded the inventory.

An inventory scanner is available for download on that page which will prepare an inventory file for your machine. When you submit an inventory through Fix Central, IBM will provide you with a list of all downloadable fixes applicable to products recognized in that inventory file. Currently, the tool only recognizes a limited set of products which include most branded software running on any operating system and AIX operating systems updates. Other products will be added as quickly as possible.

Dynamic System Analysis

Dynamic System Analysis (DSA) is available on several hardware platforms and captures information about the system. Check to see if your system supports DSA. Currently DSA files cannot be scanned for fixes on Fix Central, but they are used by IBM Support for problem determination.

How IBM uses inventories

Scanned inventories are used for diagnostic purposes to provide support with more information about the operating environment experiencing a problem. IBM stores the latest submitted inventory for a specific environment in a database that can be accessed by authorized support representatives.

IBM Electronic Support is making use of scanned inventories by processing them and providing proactive information to you. Our first application enables you to find software fixes using an inventory file on IBM Fix Central.

Managing inventories

Why does IBM need a scanned inventory? Don't you know what products I have purchased?

While IBM does maintain purchase records, that information is not always tied to an IBM ID and can only be accessed with approval. Scanned inventory can be accessed by the person who submitted the inventory scan. Scanned inventory is often more accurate since it shows how the products are configured and any updates or patches that have been applied.

I submitted a scanned inventory. Why doesn't it appear in the IBM support tools?

It can take up to 24 hours for a submitted inventory to appear in your list of inventory files on the IBM Support Portal and Fix Central. Additionally, you must be signed in to the IBM support website with an ID authorized to view that inventory file.

How can I delete an inventory submitted?

Inventories are automatically purged when new information for that same environment is uploaded or after certain date thresholds. However, if you want to request a manual removal of an inventory file from IBM's storage, you may do that by submitting an email request. Please make sure to identify the specific inventory you wish to have purged. The request must come from a person with access to that inventory.

Inventories on IBM Support Portal

To use your scanned inventory information, you must sign in to the IBM Support Portal. If you have already uploaded inventories using that ID through Fix Central or IBM Support Portal, you can view the products found in those inventories in the product selection module. To view products, associated with your inventory files:

  1. Select the My products link in the Support Portal Product lookup section.
  2. Select My Inventories in the drop down above the product list.

You will see a list of all of the recognized products in any inventory file the Support can find associated with your id. You can select any product recognized in the inventory to be your active product in Support Portal. Support Portal will attempt to include any version and/or operating system that is specified in the inventory file. Currently the supported products are limited to most branded software products on any operating system, the AIX operating system itself, and hardware machine type/model information.

To upload a new scanned inventory file to IBM Support Portal:

  1. Select the My products link in the Support Portal Product lookup section.
  2. Select My Inventories in the drop down above the product list.
  3. Select Upload new inventory.
  4. Choose the inventory file from your local machine and enter a name for the file.
  5. You may optionally add the IBM IDs of other users who you would like to have access to this file. Note this function only works if you allow IBM to store the inventory for future use.
  6. Once the inventory is scanned, you can select any products from the inventory file that you want to add to the IBM Support Portal.

If you allow IBM to store the inventory for future use, you will be able to view the products found in this inventory at any time by returning to the IBM Support Portal.

Inventories on IBM Fix Central

To use your scanned inventory information, you must sign into Fix Central with an ID that is associated with one or more scanned inventory files.

On IBM Fix Central:

  1. Navigate to the Inventory upload page.
  2. Open the Select a previously submitted inventory file tab to see the scanned inventories associated with your ID.
  3. Select any inventory from the list to scan for available fixes.

Note that only products that are recognized by the inventory scanner and Fix Central will return fixes. Currently this pilot includes only fixes for the AIX operating system and IBM software products. The pilot will not return any fixes for hardware/firmware running on your system. Please be aware that as this is a pilot, we cannot guarantee that every applicable fix for every product on your system will be returned. Also note that you will need to view the fix information to determine if the fixes returned for multiple products are compatible with each other.

On some IBM systems you can also use UpdateXpress to find fixes. You can check for UpdateXpress availability on your system. Many software products also use IBM Installation Manager to find updates. You can download IBM Installation Manager to check for updates.

Missing products

IBM electronic support may not be able to interpret all products in a scanned inventory file at this time. At the current time, most branded software products on any operating environment and AIX operating system fixes are included in the pilot. Please feel free to submit feedback advising us of any product that was not recognized.

Feedback

The use of scanned inventories by IBM electronic support is growing. Please feel free to provide feedback about possible inventory functions you would find helpful on our websites. If you would like to participate in a user study to provide more in-depth feedback on the IBM electronic support program and our applications, please contact us via email.

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