IBM Moves OS/400 V5R3 Towards the Door, Rejiggers i5 Prices
February 12, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
As part of its launch of upgraded disk controllers and disk enclosures for the System i5 line last week, IBM also made a bunch of little changes to prices on selected features. The company also withdrew from its product catalog a number of peripherals and features, and also said that it would withdraw OS/400 V5R3 and an associated bevy of related systems programs from marketing on January 8, 2008.
The withdrawal of OS/400 V5R3 in under 11 months is probably going to have a more profound effect on the i5/OS and OS/400 community than some price changes on features. For instance, if you are on OS/400 V5R2 or V5R1 and you want to move to a supported operating system, you have less than a year to get in gear to do a two step upgrade, first to V5R3 and then to V5R4.
It is important to realize that just because IBM is not selling OS/400 V5R3 does not mean it will not support it. IBM has not announced an end of support date for OS/400 V5R3, but the end of support date for OS/400 V5R2 is coming up fast: April 30, 2007. And because this was a reasonably popular release–IBM probably sold more V5R2 licenses than it did V5R3–that means IBM and its partners are eagerly awaiting the rush as customers figure out that moving to V5R4 makes a lot more sense in 2007 than waiting to see what happens with i5/OS V5R5 or V6R1–whatever IBM will call it.
Only a few weeks ago, I was saying that IBM and Zend Technologies make the Zend Core for i5/OS PHP engine a lot more popular by offering it not just on i5/OS V5R4, which it did last year, and on OS/400 V5R3, which it did last month, but by casting back to OS/400 V5R2, which had the same PASE AIX runtime environment. That suggestion, which might make PHP available to much larger base. There are probably 15,000 to 20,000 i5/OS V5R4 licenses out there in the world, and maybe 50,000 to 60,000 V5R3 licenses. There could be even more V5R2 licenses, and across all three of these, we might be talking anywhere from 125,000 to 150,000 licenses. But making PHP available to existing V5R2 customers is clearly not going to be as important to IBM–which pays Zend for each license to Zend Core for i5/OS on behalf of customers.
What seems clear now is that the withdrawal of V5R3 in January 2008–as well as upgrades from V5R1 and V5R2 to V5R3 at the same time–is going to be the stick that IBM uses to try to compel customers to upgrade their software, hardware, or both and PHP is going to be one of what I hope are a bunch of carrots. IBM is not going to pay Zend to give V5R2 shops a freebie PHP engine. That seems clear.
To be fair, as I pointed out a month ago, those V5R2-class machines do not have a lot of computing power or memory expansion, so it is debatable if large PHP applications could be supported on them. Then again, PHP can run on my watch, and IT Jungle runs its Apache Web and PHP servers on extremely small, very low-powered, homemade servers that do not have a lot of oomph, either.
In any event, shops on V5R3 have to start doing their homework and figure out what they intended to do. (You can read the full list of V5R3 licensed program products that are being withdrawn in this announcement letter.)
Somewhat surprisingly, IBM killed off the i5 550, i5 570, and i5 595 High Availability Editions, which were announced in January 2006. This is somewhat surprising in that these servers embodied discounts that were typically given to customers who negotiated for a secondary system for a high availability cluster. IBM’s announcement did not explain this policy of killing off the HA Editions of these three class of machines, but it did say that there were similar i5 Capacity BackUp (CBU) editions available as replacement products. But that is not strictly true. The CBU machines have restrictions on how they can be used–they can be used to replicate data for a backup machine, and they can be used to do tape backups and sometimes certain batch jobs. But they cannot be used in any fashion like a regular i5 or i5 HA Edition box can be.
IBM also killed off the 1519 Model 200 Integrated xSeries Adapter (IxA) card, which was used to link external xSeries servers to the iSeries back in 2004. This IxA card was skinny enough to fit in certain rack-mounted xSeries servers IBM made at the time, and was therefore better than the 1519 Model 100 card. But, now that IBM is peddling a much better iSCSI attachment method for linking external System x servers to internal disk arrays inside the System i5 machines, IBM doesn’t want to make this card any more. If you need an IxA adapter, IBM says you have to use the older 1519 Model 100 card, which only fits in rack servers with a 3U or larger form factor. This feature will be withdrawn on May 8, 2007.
There are a bunch of other features being withdrawn, which you can see here. All of these features, including those i5 550, 570, and 595 HA Editions, are withdrawn as of February 6.
Now, on to the price changes on selected i5 features, which went into effect on February 6. IBM cut prices on some rack features, such as doors, and some adapter kits. But the main one that will interest i5 customers who acquired first generation i5 520 and i5 550 servers using Power5 (not Power5+) processors is that IBM chopped the price of the feature 4443 memory card, a 512 MB DDR1 memory unit, 15.1 percent to $550; IBM also cut the price of the 2 GB DDR1 memory sticks by 20 percent to $9,900. Here is the list of changes:
Finally, IBM raised the prices on its upgrades for certain RAID disk controllers, as follows: