Volume 4, Number 18 -- May 17, 2007

IBM's AIX Roadmap Through 2015

Published: May 17, 2007

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

With the Power6 server announcements looming large, and presumably coming in the AIX-based System p servers first, followed by the System i boxes at some later date, the natural thing for IBM to talk about along with Power6 hardware advancements is how it plans to advance the AIX operating system. Customers don't just want roadmaps and assurances about the hardware. They want them about the operating systems that run on it, too.

In last week's issue of The Unix Guardian, I detailed IBM's plan to allow AIX 5.3 to run on the forthcoming Power6 iron if that operating system was updated with a technology level 6 patch, which presumably will be available with the new System p servers when they are announced. The word on the street is that AIX 5.4, the release of the AIX operating system that IBM created to specifically take advantage of features in the Power6 iron, would be later than the iron itself. Specifically, the rumor going around is that AIX 5.4 won't be generally available until October 2007, which is three to four months after the Power6 servers are expected to start shipping. So IBM, it would appear, had little choice but to backcast Power6 iron underneath AIX 5.3 software. It is also reasonable to assume that AIX 5.4 will still be required to take full advantage of the Power6 hardware, and that companies will be encouraged to upgrade as fast as they can. And, being cautious data center types, they will probably drag their feet even if AIX 5.4 has performance and virtualization improvements, as expected.

In any event, while trying to track down the AIX 5.4 delivery date, I stumbled across a roadmap that the company appears to have been showing customers in early 2007. IBM could have changed its mind since that time about its plans, but this seems unlikely given the proximity of the Power6 announcements when the presentation was created.

This roadmap does indeed show AIX 5.4 being generally available in October 2007, with end of marketing expected in September 2012 and end of service in September 2013. Because the presentation was cut off, you cannot see the end of life for the product, but it stands to reason that it will be September 2016, and after last week's announcement of an extended year of Web-based support, the roadmaps IBM will be showing customers this month at the Power6 launch will probably show September 2017 for the final date IBM will cope with AIX 5.4.

As you can see from the chart, IBM is also expected to deliver AIX 5.5 in October 2010, and that is presumably to more or less coincide with the delivery of Power7-based servers around that time. Power6 and Power6+ chips are expected to fulfill their role as the engines in the System p product line up until 2010. IBM is on a three-year schedule for its AIX operating system and related System p server platforms.

IBM plans to stop selling AIX 5.2 this September 2007, and will stop full tech support on the product on September 30, 2008--a date IBM has already made public. Beyond that, customers will be able to get security patches for AIX 5.3 through September 2011, but they will not get the extended year of Web-based support and additional technology level patches as AIX 5.3 shops were offered with last week's announcements.


IBM Lengthens and Broadens AIX Support on Power Iron

AIX Partitioning Enhancements Pushed Out to Power6 Launch

AIX: 20 Years Down, Many More to Go

More Details Emerge on IBM's Upcoming Power6 Server Launch

Power6: Later in 2007 Rather than Sooner?

Power6 Comes in 2007, No Slip into 2008 for the System p

IBM Bags System p5 Super Deals, But Is Power6 Slipping?

IBM Uncloaks Power6 Chip Details

Power6 Ups the Ante for Virtualization, Power Management

Power6 Gets Second Silicon, IBM to Crank the Clock

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
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