Last week, I noticed the message

Warning: You cannot receive new updates because System Update entitlement has either expired, or could not successfully authorize to NCC. If the error persists, configure the entitlement later with a valid activation code.
in ZCC under Configuration -> System Updates.

We have a valid System Update entitlement listed in NCC. Our various subscriptions, including Maintenance, were renewed less than two weeks ago; this timing may not be a coincidence.

When I enter the appropriate activation code under Configuration -> Management Zone Settings -> Infrastructure Management -> System Update Settings -> System Update Entitlement, it spins for a long time and then fails with what looks like the same error as in TID 7009952: a failure to contact the NCC server. The logs on the server seem to match that TID as well.

I have followed the instructions from that TID, with no effect; it produces the same result as already described.

When I've seen this behavior before, it turned out to be because there were problems with the servers on Novell's end:

Is something like that happening again?

If not, is there anything further I can do to try to get this working (or at least track it down) on my own, or do I need to file a service request?

In past threads, problems with ZCC reporting the System Update entitlement as expired have been to some extent downplayed by pointing out that you can download any and all such updates from the Novell Patch Finder. This does seem reasonable.

When I attempt to download the update I'm presently interested in (the latest PRU) from the Patch Finder, it lists the update as Restricted, and states "You are not authorized to access this item.". However, I have "Patch & Update" access on our System Update Entitlement product entry in NCC, and I have not been able to find any other place where such authorization might be covered.

While I can understand that access to download e.g. specific hotfixes - which should only be used if experiencing a specific problem - might be restricted to only people who have reported that problem, it seems improbable that any such rationale could apply to a PRU.

What might be going on here?