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Volume 21, Number 4 -- January 30, 2012

Reader Feedback On IBM's Move On Up To Power7 Upgrade Math

Published: January 30, 2012

Hey, TPM:

Best wishes for 2012!

In the table in your story, IBM's Move On Up To Power7 Upgrade Math, taking into account the last supported release that can could run on that model, can you update this with input from this link from IBM: http://www-947.ibm.com/systems/support/i/planning/upgrade/osmapping.html

Nobody in their right mind will pay software maintenance for machines that cannot run a release that is supported. For example, the iSeries 170 and 250 machines can run V5R3 at the latest, and there is no point (apart from sympathy for IBM, ha!) to pay software support if the right for support is past its "best before" date or the right to have the next version is moot as the hardware is stuck at its last release anyhow.

--Michiel


I see your point. The iSeries 170 is toast for sure since it does not support i5/OS V5R4, and therefore no one is really paying software support for that machine. Well, unless you are a customer in the United States and want to pay for IBM's Service Extension Offering for i5/OS and OS/400, which runs out on April 30, 2013. This support is for usage only, no new patches. You need to pay for AS/400 "legacy support" to get new defects patched on either V5R3 or V5R4. This legacy support runs out for V5R3 on April 30, 2013, as well, and has no end date for V5R4 as yet. These options apply to the 600, 620, and 720 machines in IBM's comparison and their brethren from those earlier PowerPC generations, which top out at OS/400 V5R3. But all of the other machines in the comparison can run i5/OS V5R4, which IBM stopped selling on May 27 last year but which is still supports; a number of the machines in IBM's upgrade scenarios can run IBM i 6.1 or 7.1.

I have a hard time believing that anyone with an old machine is really paying maintenance and is not simply buying whole spare machines on the second-hand market and keeping spares around in the event something goes wrong. But then again, most AS/400 shops are not do-it-yourselfers when it comes to system maintenance, and having spent five years doing that myself, even with a great love of hardware, I very quickly grew tired of being in over my head when things went wrong in my data closet. I really got tired of praying to the tape backup every week.

I think the larger case that has been continually made for the past decade is that OS/400 and i computing has come so far down in price that amortized over three, four, or five years, and possibly done with financing, the base system and systems software stack is comparatively a lot more affordable than AS/400s from days gone by. The issue, as I explored in Control Your Code, Control Your Costs And Destiny in the same issue of The Four Hundred, is that ISVs often charge upgrade fees as customers move from old to new systems even though the customer has not added users and the software provider has not changed one bit of code to add functionality. Paying $25,000 or $50,000 to get a new entry Power Systems machine is nothing against these much larger ISV fees, and the deal doesn't get done.

If IBM was in the application software business, as it was two decades ago, it could cushion the blow directly. But the managers of the Power Systems hardware business have to show a profit and they can only cut so far with the Solution Edition variants of the Power7 machines, and ISVs are under pressure to profit, too. And so the base stagnates until customers actually need new functionality.

--TPM


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