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The alternate support element feature provides a redundant service console attachment for the IBM eServer z900 that improves the availability and serviceability characteristics of the z900 for manual operations and service/maintenance tasks. All of the tasks relying on the zSeries™ support element implementation (such as activation, configuration, and repair functions) are gaining inherently high availability characteristics with the provision of an alternate support element. The functional concept is physically based on two standard IBM ThinkPad® computers which are packaged with a z900 server and act as service consoles and system controllers for a zSeries system. The logical relation between the two consoles is based on a master/slave concept, together with a failover design that provides the capability for manual and automatic (i.e., under program control) switchover from the primary support element to the alternate support element. Also included in the concept are automatic role determination for primary and alternate roles, a synchronization mechanism between the two support elements based on mirroring, and a design which will allow the alternate support element in the future to act as a staging area for updates and pre-loads of Licensed Internal Code (microcode).
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