Admin Alert: Getting Started With An i 6.1 Upgrade
March 7, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
For the second time in two years, my organization is participating in a multi-partition/multi-machine i5/OS V5R4 operating system upgrade to i 6.1. The second time around is interesting because I can build on lessons from last year’s upgrades. In the hope that it can help you with your V5R4 to 6.1 upgrades, here are some of my notes for planning the upgrades.
Deciding Between Upgrading To i 6.1 or i 7.1
With IBM dropping support for i5/OS V5R4 and the fact that Big Blue hasn’t released the i 8.x operating system yet, customers still have a choice whether to upgrade to i 6.1 or i 7.1. While there are a lot of good reasons to go to 7.1, many shops may find they need to go to 6.1 first and then upgrade again to i 7.1 later as the need presents itself.
While I haven’t yet seen a good checklist for deciding whether to upgrade to i 6.1 or i 7.1 (and please let me know if you find one), here are some suggestions to help you make the decision.
My opinion is that you should start the process assuming that you’re going to upgrade to i 7.1, unless you find some reason that you won’t be able to complete a 7.1 upgrade at this time. IBM offers a direct upgrade path from V5R4 to i 7.1; all the newest and most valuable features are in i 7.1; and IBM will support i 7.1 long after the i 6.1 operating system falls off Big Blue’s support radar screen.
So start the upgrade process assuming you will be upgrading to i 7.1. But if you find that you cannot go to 7.1 at this time, you can fall back and still perform an i 6.1 upgrade and then upgrade to i 7.1 or another operating system version later on.
The rest of this article will focus on getting started with a V5R4 to i 6.1 upgrade.
IBM provides a nice starter Web site for upgrade planning. The IBM Upgrade Planning for IBM i 6.1 Web site offers good information on program conversion FAQs, software, hardware, statement of direction, planning statements, and IBM i 6.1.
After checking out the upgrade planning site, follow these steps to help create your upgrade plan.
Read the I5/OS Memo to Users
Regardless of what their role is in the upgrade, everyone on your project team should read the System i i5/OS Memo to Users, Version 6 Release 1 (May 2011 update). This memo contains most of the major changes in i 6.1, including:
This gives your staff clues for finding and adjusting to any critical operating system changes that can affect your production systems after the upgrade.
IBM i Program Conversion: Getting Ready for 6.1 and Beyond
By now, you know that the big penalty for converting to i 6.1 or above is that all your machine interface programs must be converted to run under the new operating system. This includes all objects, especially your Integrated Language Environment (ILE) and Original Program Model (OPM) programs, as well as other types of system objects.
The primer for learning how to convert objects is the IBM Redpaper, IBM i Program Conversion: Getting Ready for 6.1 and Beyond (REDP-4293-01). This provides an overview of the conversion process, an introduction to program conversion, how to prepare for your conversion, and once you’re ready, program conversion methods. This will give you the information you need to get started on your conversion process.
Get Program Conversion and Upgrade Instructions, If Necessary
Take another survey of your third-party software to determine what needs to be done with the software as far as preparing it to run on i 6.1. Some packages will require you to upgrade to another version. Others will have instructions regarding what to do about program conversions and unconvertible objects. Still others will have instructions for what to do to make the software work after you’ve upgraded the operating system. Make sure you go through all your third-party packages to ensure that you know what to do to make them run on 6.1.
Installing, Upgrading, or Deleting i5/OS and Related Software, Version 6, Release 1
To perform the V5R4 to i 6.1 upgrade, you’ll need the i5/OS and related software–Installing, upgrading, or deleting i5/OS and related software Version 6, Release 1 Redbook (SC41-5120-10). After you convert your program objects, this will be your guidebook for the actual upgrade.
Think About Using Image Catalogs Instead of DVDs for Installation
As you go through the upgrade process, you will have to install at least two sets of PTFs along with a new operating system. And there may be more installation DVDs needed for third-party upgrades along the way.
To reduce the DVD handling issues, look into implementing image catalogs on your systems. With an image catalog, you can load a complete set of DVDs to the catalog before the upgrade occurs (allowing you to verify that the DVDs aren’t damaged), install without changing DVDs, and then copy or save and restore the DVDs between systems. For more information on how to create image catalogs, see this article I wrote on using image catalogs for software upgrades and installations.
Not The End
Following these steps, you should have enough information to get started with an i 6.1 upgrade. Keep in mind, however, that an upgrade is a fairly long process so think in terms of a months-long project rather than some of the quicker upgrades you may have performed in the past. Good luck and drop me a line sometime to let me know how it’s going.
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Joe Hertvik is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a service company that provides written marketing content and presentation services for the computer industry, including white papers, case studies, and other marketing material. Email Joe for a free quote for any upcoming projects. He also runs a data center for two companies outside Chicago. Joe is a contributing editor for IT Jungle and has written the Admin Alert column since 2002.