IBM Winds Down PowerVM V2, Nudges Customers To PowerVM V3
November 12, 2018 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It may not occur to you, but the PowerVM server virtualization hypervisor that Big Blue created for Power Systems servers has a version just like every other piece of software in the world, and like all software, it ages and eventually it is retired from the field in lieu of more modern code.
In announcement letter 918-129, IBM let it be known that PowerVM V2, of which there were three releases, will be withdrawn from marketing on February 19, 2019 and will have its support withdrawn on September 30, 2020. That may seem like a long time away from now, but it really isn’t. PowerVM V2.1 and V2.2 have already been given the axe long since and so have even earlier releases. Here is how long each hypervisor has been in the field, based on the version, release, and modification designations:
This withdrawal affects all PowerVM versions, including those that were bundled specifically for Linux and those that were created to support IBM i, AIX, and Linux side by side. It includes the Standard Edition, which had some of its functionality crimped, and the Enterprise Edition, which had all the bells and whistles and a larger price tag. PowerVM V3 is a direct replacement for PowerVM V2, and just to help you identify them, here are the program numbers:
- PowerVM Standard Edition V3, 5765-VS3
- PowerVM Enterprise Edition V3, 5765-VE3
- PowerVM V3 Linux, 5765-VL3
IBM says that customers with active Software Maintenance can upgrade to PowerVM V3, and that the PowerVM 2.2.6 level images will also be available under the PowerVM V3 supply on the Entitled Software Support (ESS) download site. (We are not sure why you need the old images for old software, go figure.)
We don’t think that that IBM is planning on mothballing PowerVM as a distinct and unique hypervisor on Power Systems iron, but over the long haul, especially with the company shelling out $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, it will eventually want to throw all of its weight behind the KVM hypervisor that Red Hat largely controls and that IBM has ported to run on Linux-only systems to be more like the KVM that runs on X86 systems. It would be very interesting indeed if both IBM i and AIX were eventually ported to KVM, and better still, were allowed to run on any Power Systems machine. We have no idea how much work might be involved in porting IBM i and AIX to KVM, but it would be a whole lot less work than trying to port the two platforms to a new processor architecture, we reckon. And if IBM went all the way and containerized both IBM i and AIX, well that would be something indeed. If Windows Server can support native containers based on Docker and Kubernetes, then there is no reason that IBM i and AIX can’t. It all comes down to the question of investment funds.
PowerVM V3.1 was just announced back in October, of course, and among the many other things it included in the update was support for Power9 processors. PowerVM V3.1 only supports Power7+, Power8, Power8+, and Power9 processors. (Interestingly, to run PowerVM on a Power9 box, you need to buy the Enterprise Edition; the Standard Edition is not available anymore.)
The withdrawal of support on the earlier PowerVM V2.X is just another way of IBM saying that customers on older iron and older operating systems need to be thinking about getting onto more current hardware and software or risk running their businesses on unsupported software. Plenty of OS/400 and IBM i shops do this, and it is not always wise but we think that many companies get away with it. With so many potential security risks these days, however, this is really not a wise philosophy at all and could really cause great damage to a company.
In the same announcement, IBM said that Cloud Management Console, program number 5737-D02, is also getting pulled out of the IBM catalog on February 19, 2019, There doesn’t seem to be an end of support date in this announcement, and there is not a replacement program, either. IBM announced Cloud Management Console at COMMON (now PowerUP) back in May 2017.