IBM Inks In End Of Support For Power6 And Power7 Iron
September 25, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In case you didn’t notice it, IBM is getting ready to embark on a new generation of systems, based on its “Nimbus” and “Cumulus” Power9 chips.
When new gear is entering the product catalog, IBM has a few tools to help encourage customers to move ahead rather than sitting tight. First, it tends to withdraw the older stuff – in this case systems using Power6, Power6+, Power 7, and Power7+ processors – from marketing. That sends the signal that customers won’t be able to get new processor cards, memory cards, and other peripherals for these machines. Then, IBM can raise maintenance fees on older iron, making it prohibitively expensive for those customers who do engage IBM with technical support contracts with its Software Maintenance, or SWMA, services, which have for many years bundled together hardware and base software support. Third, IBM can just stop providing maintenance services entirely from older gear, which adds to the move ahead signal.
This latter move is not always used, at least from my own recollection. I can remember vintage equipment like B, C, and D series machines being on maintenance services for something crazy like ten or fifteen years after they came to the market. (Perhaps my memory exaggerates.) The Power6 machines date from 2007, the Power6+ came in 2008, Power7 was launched in 2010, and Power7+ debuted in 2012. (IBM tends to do announcements in April or October, just like OpenStack and Ubuntu Linux releases. It is a coincidence, sort of. Like seasons. There are exceptions to this rule, of course.)
On September 19, in announcement letter 917-163, Big Blue told customers of various vintage Power iron that it was going to be cutting standard hardware maintenance on their machine. For once, the IBM announcement letter actually didn’t just give a list of product numbers but the product names by which most of us talk about these machines.
The following Power6 and Power6+ machines will have an end of support, or EOS, date of March 31, 2019:
The following Power7 and Power7+ machines will have support for six months longer, until September 30, 2019:
IBM adds that for “select machine types” it will offer “limited hardware maintenance service available without lapse,” but specifically what machines among these shown and the precise nature of these limitation support services was not detailed.
The message, in case you have not gotten it, is that you should move to Power8 iron now or start getting ready for Power9. It probably makes sense to start building a case for Power9 gear and a modern IBM i release, which should put you in good stead for many years to come. It is a bit risky to wait to see what the Power9 machines might hold, and how they might be priced. But you might also end up overpaying for Power8 iron if you move now. It is hard to say without more data.