Admin Alert: The Nine Stages of a Power i Upgrade
December 8, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Like many other shops, you may soon be upgrading your existing iSeries, System i, or Power i hardware. To help with that process, this week I’m reviewing the nine general stages that occur during a Power i upgrade. While not all-inclusive, these stages create a general roadmap for what you need to consider during a Power i hardware purchase.
Briefly, the nine stages of a Power i upgrade are:
This list comprises a 20,000-foot view of what needs to be done for a Power i upgrade. Let’s look at each item in more detail.
Step #1: IBM hardware and software maintenance extension (if necessary)
You may experience an IBM maintenance gap during an upgrade, depending on when you originally bought your old machines and when you will be buying your new machine. For example, you’ll have a problem if you leased your existing machine for 42 months but your hardware and software maintenance contract runs out after 36 months. In that case, you’ll need to extend IBM hardware and software maintenance until the new hardware arrives. You can get more information on this topic in a previous article I wrote on extending IBM maintenance.
Step #2: Operating system upgrade (optional)
In certain situations, you may be required to upgrade your i/OS operating system before you can upgrade your hardware. For example, if you’re running i5/OS V5R4M0 and you’re buying a Power 6 machine, you’ll need to upgrade the OS to i5/OS V5R4M5 or later to support the new hardware. If you’re on i5/OS V5R4M5 and you’re planning on migrating to a Power 7 machine, you’ll need to upgrade your operating system to either i 6.1 or i 7.1 because V5R4M5 is not supported on Power 7. Research any OS upgrades that must be performed and get those upgrades out of the way before ordering your new hardware.
Also consider how you will perform OS upgrades on each partition and how your shop will function if you have temporarily mismatched operating systems on inter-related partitions. For example, if you’re running change management software, what happens when you want to promote changes and your development partition is temporarily at one OS level and your production partition is at another OS level? For CBUs, how does the CBU replicate data if the CBU is temporarily running at a higher OS level than your production box. Take time to understand the effects of mismatched operating systems and plan how you can quickly bring all your interrelated partitions up to the same OS level.
Step #3: High availability preparation (optional)
If you have a Capacity BackUp (CBU) system and you’re planning on switching over to the CBU while upgrading your production partition, make sure that your CBU is ready to stand in for production. This may involve additional pre-upgrade switch tests or certifying your CBU for live switch over. Information about preparing your CBU for assuming production processing can be found in part 1 and part 2 of my articles on preparing your CBU for a live fail over.
Step #4: Sizing your machine
Machine sizing is tricky because it involves assumptions about the future of your business. The problem is these assumptions may or may not be true, and they can affect performance down the road. Try to obtain whatever long-term growth forecasts are available, add a fudge factor to that number (say an additional 10 to 20 percent), and size your machine to your calculated growth number. Here you’re walking a tricky line between buying too much capacity versus running out of horsepower during the machine’s lifespan.
Sizing should be based on the expected Commercial Processing Workload (CPW) you’ll need to run your business on during the machine’s expected lifespan. But while you’re buying your machine for the maximum long-term CPW, you’ll only want to turn on the additional processors when you need them. Remember that you have to buy additional operating system licenses for each processor you turn on, so you may want to purchase your machine for maximum CPW but only activate the processors you’ll need for your first year’s performance and activate additional processors (and buy additional OS licenses) as needed after that.
Step #5: Evaluating alternatives
There is no lack of options for upgrading your machine. You could decide to do any one of the following:
Don’t be afraid to push your business partner or IBM for creative cost-saving ways to upgrade your hardware. There may be more options out there than you think.
Step #6: Final specifications, decision, financing, and ordering
This is the time for writing capital requests, providing justification for the purchase, determining how you’re going to finance your machine, and placing the order. If you’re leasing your hardware, be sure to check out my article showcasing some simple ideas for getting the best System i lease.
Step #7: Third party software and licensing upgrade.
While you’re waiting for your new hardware to arrive, contact your third-party software vendors to determine if there are any upgrade-related software licensing changes (in many shops, you have to budget this as part of the capital appropriations process). Many vendors won’t charge you for moving to new hardware while others may charge a migration fee or increase yearly maintenance for a new machine. You may also need to retrieve new hardware keys for your upgraded equipment, especially if you’re changing serial numbers.
Step #8: Migration, installation, go live
Create your migration plan. Determine if your staff is equipped to perform the migration or whether you’ll need to hire someone to do the job. Check out another article I wrote detailing a a skeleton checklist for performing Power i upgrades for ideas on what to cover here.
Step #9: Disposal of old equipment
After everything is up and running, you must deal with your replaced equipment. If the machine was leased, you’ll have to return the old equipment to the leasing company. The leasing company may also require you to hire IBM to certify the equipment is working and to prepare it for shipment. For security and compliance, you’ll also want to securely erase all the data on the old machine’s disk drives before return or sale.
If you purchased your old equipment, you’ll want to think about whether you want to redeploy it; sell it to your business partner; sell it on eBay or another online marketplace; or sell it to a used equipment dealer.
A Longish Journey
Remember that equipment upgrades will likely take several months. These nine steps can serve as an outline for what you need to do during that time. As you proceed, you can fill in the rest of the details for your particular situation.