Admin Alert: Upcoming i5/OS and AnyNet End of Service Dates
December 17, 2008 Joe Hertvik
To finish out 2008, let’s look ahead to some upcoming end of service dates that can affect shops running i5/OS V5R3 in 2009 and shops that are still using AnyNet to connect older twinax-based printers and other devices to System i and Power i machines. If you’re in these categories, you should be aware of the following issues.
A New Year, A New i5/OS Upgrade?
If any of your partitions are running i5/OS V5R3, be aware that IBM will discontinue support for i5/OS V5R3 on April 30, 2009. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your software will no longer work. It does means that IBM will no longer take support calls for the operating system and it may become more difficult to obtain system upgrades in the future. After discontinuation, direct upgrades (where you upgrade from i5/OS V5R3 to the latest software release) may not be available or supported, depending on how long you wait to upgrade your operating system. If direct upgrades to a target release are no longer available, you might have to perform a multi-step upgrade where you first upgrade to an interim release before you perform a second upgrade for bringing the operating system up to its target level.
Also note that your system upgrade planning can be complicated if you’re running a production partition alongside a development partition or a Capacity BackUp (CBU) system machine. In these environments, you will have to perform an upgrade for each V5R3 machine and the sequence of the upgrades should be the following:
Upgrading this way allows you to test the new operating system on both your development and CBU boxes first before taking the plunge and upgrading the production box.
In addition to discontinuing support for i5/OS V5R3, the V5R3M0 version of IBM’s iSeries Access family will also lose support on April 30. iSeries Access for Windows V5R3M0 (product ID 5722XE1), iSeries Access for Web V5R3M0 (product 5722XH2), and WebSphere Host Access Transformation Services Limited Edition V5 (HATS LE) will reach their end of service dates at that time.
Preparing for AnyNet’s Eventual Demise
While we’re talking about discontinuing support, be aware of IBM’s long-term plan for AnyNet support. AnyNet is IBM’s implementation of the Multiprotocol Transport Networking (MPTN) architecture. It’s been around forever and according to IBM, AnyNet is a “…family of products that allow applications that are written for one type of network protocol to run over a different type of protocol.” Most notably, AnyNet allows SNA-based applications to run over a TCP/IP network. It is currently supported on i5/OS V5R3 and V5R4, as well as on the i 6.1 operating system.
So what does the demise of this old dinosaur have to do with System i and Power i administrators? While AnyNet usage has declined in the i5/OS world, many companies still use it to connect older legacy equipment (such as line printers and dumb terminals) to AS/400, iSeries, System i, and Power i systems. You can still find AnyNet-based controllers hard at work in warehousing and other environments that use older line printers (such as an IBM 6400) to produce large quantities of pick tickets, bills of lading, invoices, and other multi-form printouts. These configurations can be enabled through controllers that employ AnyNet (instead of twinax) as its underlying architecture to attach older devices to i5/OS machines. My organization still employs some AnyNet-based solutions, and I suspect that we’re not alone in the System i/Power i world.
And that’s where the problem comes in. As IBM rolls out more Power i machines, it has announced that 6.1 will be the final release to support AnyNet. According to Big Blue, the next i operating system release will be the first release without AnyNet support. Since AnyNet is supported through i 6.1, we can do the math to determine when the next release will arrive, and when AnyNet support will be phased out.
Since 2001, IBM has consistently been releasing new operating systems every two years. OS/400 V5R2 was released in 2002, i5/OS V5R3 was released in 2004, V5R4 came out in 2006, and i 6.1 was released in 2008. This means the next operating system version (let’s call it i 6.x) will theoretically be released in 2010. Historically, this also means that we can expect IBM to announce end of program support for each of their operating systems in two-year increments, which may happen according to the following schedule.
The result of these calculations is two-fold. For companies using AnyNet, they can probably upgrade and stay on operating systems supporting AnyNet through 2013. However, if you want to upgrade to the latest operating system anytime after 2010 and you’re running AnyNet, you’ll need to dump your AnyNet-based processing before you can do so.
For many companies, AnyNet isn’t a factor. However, if your company has multiple facilities using AnyNet-enabled IBM printers and dumb terminals to process orders, the clock has started to tick. You may need to start phasing out AnyNet (and its compatible devices) as early as 2010. The other consideration is that if you need capital to replace AnyNet equipment in 2010, you may need to start looking at alternatives in 2009. This is because most organizations require you to request budget funding in advance for the next fiscal year. So if you need equipment replacement funding in FY 2010, you may need to cost out the alternatives in FY 2009.
The morale here is that if your shop has been relying on older AnyNet configurations, it may soon be time to look at an alternative.
What Is a Paging Option, Anyway?
In my recent column on Tuning i5/OS Storage Pools for Performance, I described the Paging Option value for a storage pool the following way:
You can change the Paging Option value on each storage pool to define whether the pool is fixed (*FIXED, where it cannot be changed by automated performance tuning) or whether it should be defined as a calculated storage pool (*CALC, where performance tuning can automatically adjust the pool size and activity levels).
This is incorrect. IBM Certified Specialist in AS/400 Technical Solutions Ernie McCormack wrote in to straighten me out about Paging Options:
The paging option defines whether the system dynamically adjusts the paging characteristics of the storage pool. Set a pool’s Paging Option to *FIXED, and the system does not adjust the paging characteristics. Set it to *CALC and the system does the adjusting. Setting a pool’s paging option to *CALC is also known as turning on Expert Cache.
And Ernie is right. The Paging Option field for a shared storage pool refers to whether IBM’s Expert Cache function is turned on for that storage pool. Expert Cache is a series of improved paging algorithms for databases and related objects. Among other things, it optimizes the block size for retrieving records, which enables programs to cache more data at one time.
The problem is that the definitions of paging options and expert cache are subtle and sometimes difficult to explain. I’ve worked with paging options in this column before and I’ve even taken an entire column to explain how the *FIXED and *CALC values work and what their relationship is to expert cache. For more information on these issues, see this article on fixed storage pools and the Work with Shared Pools (WRKSHRPOOL) command.