New iSeries Upgrade Guide, Part 2
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
We got into the basics of upgrading to the new iSeries product line from prior generations of machines last week. This week I want to bring up a few issues that readers sent in to me, and also go through some of the of the pointers and pitfalls to the upgrade process that IBM has been talking about to sales reps, reseller partners, and some customers. While the new product line is much simpler, getting to it from an existing AS/400 or iSeries machine may not be as simple as many would like.
Let's take the letters first. Model 270 customers were the first ones to call the alarm last week, pointing out that the only upgrade to the new iSeries line was from a Model 270-2434 with interactive feature 1520 to the Model 810 with processor 2469 and the Enterprise Edition (feature 7409). That Model 270-2434 is a two-way machine with 70 CPWs of interactive processing capacity and 2,350 CPWs of raw processing capacity (what most of you in the OS/400 base call "batch capacity"). This machine is a two-way processor using 600 MHz S-Star PowerPC processors with 4 MB of L2 cache memory; it is in the P20 software group. Very few companies have installed this machine, since it is at the top of the Model 270 lineup. There are four other less powerful Model 270 servers in the V5R1 generation and six more in the V4R5 generation, but none of these can be upgraded to either the Model 800 or the Model 810. The point is this: If you are in a low-end Model 270, you have to upgrade through the Model 270 line before you can jump to the new iSeries line and its packaging, and when you do, you will come in to a Model 810 machine with two 750 MHz S-Star processors, rated at an aggregate of 2,700 CPWs of power, that will offer only 15 percent more raw power, even if it does offer nearly 40 times the interactive performance. This machine will be in the same P20 software class. Customers with very modestly powerful Model 4XX, 6XX, 170, 250, and 270 servers are going to be strongly encouraged to do a push-pull upgrade to a Model 800 or Model 810.
The lack of upgrades between Model 270s to Model 800s, Model 810s, or Model 825s will have the effect, at least temporarily, of propping up secondhand Model 270 server and upgrade prices, as well as new Model 270 prices. How long this lasts will depend on how the market of Model 270 buyers and sellers reacts to the low prices on the Model 800 and Model 810 machines. Dealers with Model 270s in the barn do not want to lose out on selling these machines just because IBM has announced a new iSeries line, and they don't want to sell them for one dollar less than they have to. Dealers wanting to push a Model 270 kit will have to compete indirectly with Model 800 and Model 810 machines, and that will put downward pressure on the striking prices for used machines. Takeout prices have undoubtedly dropped dramatically, because dealers don't want to take on Model 270 equipment, which is now more risky to own than before the new iSeries line was launched.
I've been thinking about this situation and talking to customers about this all last week. Upgrades are a serious pain in the neck, and if you have a vintage AS/400 as your main processor, and it can run V5R2, you might just as well get a whole new machine for production and use the old machine for development and high availability. An upgrade just doesn't make a lot of economic sense, unless you already have a development machine or high availability software, or you simply do not want to manage two servers. I still think that any machine that can run V5R2 is more valuable as a hot spare and development machine than as a means of deferring some of the initial budget costs of a push-pull upgrade. One company I talked to had a Model 600-2169, which has 23 CPWs of raw and interactive power (IBM didn't have interactive features back in 1997). This shop has about 35 users, three of which are programmers and the others are doing online transaction processing. There is no upgrade path into the new iSeries line for this shop, but the company could get a Model 800 Value Edition and have about the same interactive performance (25 CPWs), and about 13 times the batch power, for somewhere around $20,000 (before discounts) for a configured machine, depending on the tapes and other options. Or it could buy the Model 800 Standard Edition, which has 25 CPWs of interactive performance and 300 CPWs of batch power, for around $35,000 for a configured machine, or the Model 800 Advanced Edition for around $50,000, giving it twice the interactive power and 40 times the batch performance. IBM obviously wants to encourage this sort of thinking, particularly among customers like this one, which has not done an upgrade, other than adding memory and disk, for four years.
Another iSeries customer asked me another interesting question. This customer has a Model 730-2065 with interactive feature 1508, which is a P30-class uniprocessor with a 262 MHz Northstar PowerPC processor that has 560 CPWs of batch power and 240 CPWs of interactive power. This customer can upgrade to the Enterprise Edition of any one of these three machines: a Model 810-2466 (1,020 CPWs in the P10 group), a Model 810-2467 (1,470 CPWs in the P10 group), or a Model 810-2469 (2,700 CPWs in the P20 group). Having paid for P30 licenses on software, does a move to a P10 or P20 software group entail--get ready to laugh--a rebate to the user? But seriously, if this customer does a downgrade to a P10 or P20 machine, in the future, will it have to repay for an upgrade to a P30-class machine, when and if it moves forward? Should the customer upgrade to a used yet more powerful Model 730 machine in the P30 tier, and then wait to move to the new line sometime in the future? Good questions. IBM's upgrade guides do not provide good answers.
Yet another customer asked this question: Why can't his company just get the Enterprise Edition of the OS/400 software bundling on its Model 820-2438 processor without having to upgrade to a Model 825 processor? Technically, there should be no reason why IBM can't offer this, but what would it charge?
As you think of other interesting twists in the new iSeries line, drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will run them by IBM to see what the deal is.
Upgrade Pointers and Pitfalls
Upgrading to a new iSeries machine involves attention to a lot of little details. I've come across some of the material that IBM is distributing to its partners and sales channel to give you a sense of what you need to do as you plan for an upgrade.
To begin with, a bunch of hardware is not supported on the new iSeries machines. Migration I/O towers and SPD I/O towers, for instance, are not supported. Companies will have to convert the feature 5065 PCI towers to feature 5074 towers, feature 5066 towers to feature 5079 towers, and feature 5075 towers to feature 5074. As companies do upgrades, IBM is suggesting that they buy the new towers, rekit the disks in these old towers to the new towers (or upgrade them to new drives), and then attach the new tower to the new iSeries server. Companies will have to preserve RAID groups as they move over. SPD-based I/O processing and adapter cards are not supported on the new machines, obviously, since they require an SPD tower. All SPD and migration towers must be converted to High-Speed Link towers before an upgrade. This is going to take a little fancy dancing, and there are a number of ways to accomplish this. Get IBM's help for the best way.
IBM also warns that internal quarter-inch cartridge tape drives--those with 1.2 GB, 2.5 GB, and 13 GB capacities--are not supported as part of an upgrade. These drives are woefully inadequate for backing up a new machine, which has 17.5 GB of base disk capacity and will likely be configured with hundreds of gigabytes, even at small shops.
Memory cards from existing machines cannot be moved into the new iSeries machines, with the exception of the Model 270-2434 upgrade to the Model 810-2469, which is essentially the same machine with a faster S-Star processor and uses the same memory cards. All of the base memory in a machine that is being upgraded has to be returned to IBM as part of the upgrade, but additional memory features that customers have installed will remain the property of customers and IBM is not offering GB-for-GB memory conversions for cards. It is, however, offering memory trade-in allowances for specific memory upgrades. To understand how this works, you need to understand the memory used in each machine:
Here's how IBM is handling memory conversions. It is giving a 50 percent GB credit conversion to customers who move from Model 740, 825, 830, and 840 machines into either Model 870 or 890 products. This is not a 50 percent money credit, but a memory credit. So, for instance, if you have 96 GB of main memory on your Model 740, IBM will throw in 48 GB of memory on an upgrade to a Model 870. IBM is giving full GB credits for upgrades from the Model 870 to the new Model 890s, and from old Model 890s into new Model 890s. Customers will get full GB conversion credits for upgrades within the Model 825 family, because, for many memory upgrades, all the memory is going to have to be taken out of the box and replaced with denser DIMMs.
IBM has supplied a little more specific information on the software requirements for the new hardware. All of the new hardware features, including those that plug into older iSeries equipment, require the February 2003 level of OS/400 V5R2. This rollup of OS/400 includes driver support for the new processors and other hardware. Information APAR IL13365 discusses the new software licensing scheme for OS/400 and details the software requirements for the new iSeries line. Information APAR IL13440 details the software support required for supporting new peripherals on old and new iSeries machines, including new storage and I/O equipment. The updated V5R2 must be installed on all partitions of a machine before it can be upgraded to new iron. And, of course, before you do an OS/400 or hardware upgrade, do a full system backup at each phase of the process. Do a backup before the OS/400 upgrade, after it has been installed and tested, and before the hardware upgrade. Do two saves, in fact, and use clean tapes.
I'll detail the economics of upgrades to the new iSeries in next week's issue.
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