Service Extension Outlined For IBM i 7.1 And PowerHA 7.1
December 4, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Operating system suppliers do not like to support too many releases of their code at the same time. It stands to reason because software support costs have people as a foundation, and people only get more expensive, not less so. And the companies that make operating systems have newer code with more features and better security and reliability that they want their customers to move to.
IBM i 7.1 has been a well-regarded instance of Big Blue’s proprietary midrange operating systems, a line that arguably stretches all the way back to the first release of Control Program Facility (CPF) for the System/38 back in August 1979. IBM i 7.1 was launched on April 13, 2010, and it shipped ten days later; it is the longest supported release of any IBM i midrange platform in the history of the AS/400 and its progeny. It has had a very long life indeed. Back on April 11 this year, in announcement letter 917-080, IBM warned customers that IBM i 7.1 would be withdrawn and its support discontinued on April 30, 2018, which we discussed back in May when this announcement, which was made quietly, came to light.
At the time, we did not know what the nature and timing of extended support would be for IBM i 7.1, but IBM has put out some statements in recent weeks to tell customers the timing for that extended support. IBM has also discussed extended support for its PowerHA 7.1 high availability clustering software and talked in a separate statement about sunsetting certain WebSphere Application Server middleware that was commonly installed with IBM i 7.1. (More on that in a minute.)
Just a reminder we always make when talking about extended support: The hardware maintenance associated with Power Systems and earlier System i, iSeries, and AS/400 iron is unaffected by the withdrawal of support for this or any other IBM i or OS/400 operating system release. IBM is happy to make money maintaining hardware, but like other operating system suppliers, it puts an end date on support for the software because it cannot keep experts at hand to support old stuff when new stuff – in this case, iNext or what many are calling IBM i 8.1 – is around the corner, probably concurrent with the launch of the commercial-grade Power9 systems early in 2018.
In announcement letter 617-024, IBM put a timeframe on the extended support, and it turns out it is about seven months longer than we expected based on historical trends. We expected for extended support for IBM i 7.1 to run out on September 30, 2020, but it turns out that IBM is going to offer extended support for this release until April 30, 2021. IBM does not publish pricing for extended support, but it was a 60 percent premium for the Program Service Extension (PSE) supplemental, fee-based service compared to regular Software Maintenance (SWMA) on IBM i 5.4 (also known as V5R4) and IBM i 6.1 and 6.1.1. We suspect it will be in the same ballpark for PSE for IBM i 7.1. Also remember that when support is shut down for any IBM i release, all of the licensed program products affiliated with that release are also withdrawn, and they are covered by the service extension.
The extended support services are not precisely the same as SWMA. I am still not clear if this extended support includes cumulative PTF updates and that is because I have been told that IBM does not generate new bug fixes for releases that are outside of normal SWMA. But the announcement letters in the past have sometimes said there are new fixes to new problems under PSE. Usage support – meaning you try to do something and it is not working right, or you need help figuring it out – is part of PSE during normal business hours. IBM will not do new feature development on IBM i 7.1 as part of PSE.
To be precise, here is what IBM says is covered for service extension for IBM i 7.1 and PowerHA 7.1:
- Usage and Known Defect Support. IBM support is available during normal business hours for assistance with questions about using IBM i 7.1 and PowerHA 7.1, problem determination, and assistance identifying and obtaining existing fixes for problems with IBM i 7.1 and PowerHA 7.1.
- New Fixes. You get fixes for new problems.
IBM has, since IBM i 6.1, offered sub-capacity pricing for PSE, so the fees will be prorated based on how many cores IBM i 7.1 is running on in a system if you have multiple releases running on logical partitions.
You can see the official IBM i support lifecycle and upgrade planning page here, and here is another document that outlines service extension for IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 releases. I have built my own table calculating the time between the phases for each version and release based on this and other data, which you can see here:
As you can see, the time lag between the announcement and delivery of OS/400 and IBM i releases has been shrinking even as the lifespan of releases has been stretching out. In the 2000s, this lengthening was due to a slowdown in sales of the platform and the maturity of the software stack, but with recent releases, thanks to the Technology Refresh update process, a release of IBM i has lived longer because it was designed to be updated. This made both Big Blue and its IBM i customers. But with IBM i 8.1 coming, IBM can’t support IBM i 7.1. Three concurrent releases at the same time is enough, and it is more than a lot of operating system vendors do.
That means that the clock has just started ticking on IBM i 7.2, by the way.
As we have pointed out before, it would be a good thing if there was a direct jump IBM i 7.1 or IBM i 7.2 to IBM i 8.1, and one that did not require a move to Power9 iron, which might be expensive and scarce until later in 2018.
In a related matter, IBM has updated its FAQ concerning the support of WebSphere Application Server for IBM i, which you can see in this document. Here are the end of support dates for the various WebSphere releases:
- WebSphere Application Server V7.0 – April 30, 2018
- WebSphere Application Server V8.0 – April 30, 2018
- Java 6 in traditional WAS V8.5 – December 31, 2017
- Java 7 in traditional WAS V8.5 – September 30, 2019
- Java 6 in Liberty – September 30, 2017
- Java 7 in Liberty – September 30, 2019
Here is IBM’s statement on this:
“Last September, IBM announced that the End of Service date for WebSphere Application Server V7.0 and WebSphere Application Server V8.0 is April 2018. WAS V8.5 and V9.0 are available today at no additional charge to WAS clients with active subscription and support. For WAS V8.5 users, support of Java 6 with traditional WAS will end December 31st, 2017 and support for Java 6 with Liberty will end September 30, 2017. Support for Java 7 with both traditional WAS and Liberty will be discontinued after September 2019. WAS V8.5 provides the option to use Java 6, Java 7 or Java 8. Customers using WAS V8.5 are recommended to move up to Java 8.”