IBM i 7.2 End Dates Revealed as Power7 Shutdown Looms
September 18, 2019 Alex Woodie
IBM surprised nobody last week when it announced that it will stop selling IBM i 7.2 next April and cease supporting the operating system a year later. The lead time should give IBM i shops plenty of runway to prepare their upgrade strategies and transition to newer versions of the operating system. A potentially more impactful deadline for those not paying close attention is the end of hardware support for Power7 boxes in less than two weeks.
Last week’s announcement of end of sales and support for IBM i 7.2 and related software products was not unexpected. That’s because IBM does its best to not sell and support three operating systems simultaneously. Since IBM i 7.4 started shipping at the end of June, the company has supported three operating systems, versions 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4. That’s a considerable amount of overlap for IBM, which has become more lenient over the years as it struggles to get sluggish customers to keep their hardware and software up to date.
April 30, 2020, will be the last day that you can place an initial order for IBM i 7.2 and the 7.2 versions of related products, such as IBM i Access, BRMS, Query, Cryptographic Device Manager, Rational Developer Studio, OmniFind Text Search Server for Db2 for i, and several others. However, that doesn’t entirely preclude customers from obtaining those versions of the software, which they can do so via group-to-group upgrades, license transfers from one machine to another, or for buying more processor or user entitlements.
On April 30, 2021, IBM will cease offering technical support for IBM i 7.2 and related products. That is the real deadline for getting off 7.2 and moving onto IBM i version 7.3 or 7.4, both of which will be well-worn and mature OSes by then (IBM i 7.3 arguably already is, and 7.4 should be on its way there). That timing may coincide with the announcement of the next release of the IBM i operating system, although IBM has gone three to four years between major releases over the past decade.
IBM i 7.2, which debuted in May 2014, brought several compelling new features to the IBM i server, including row and column access control (RCAC), WebSphere Liberty Server, and support for SQL Query Engine (SQE) as the default engine. IBM i 7.2 debuted alongside IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 8. This May, IBM debuted IBM i 7.4 and IBM i 7.3 TR6, which brought a number of new features. IBM left 7.2 out of the party, making IBM i 7.2 TR9 the last release for that version of the software.
The TR program has succeeded in making operating system upgrades easier and less complex for customers, which was IBM’s goal when it began the practice back in 2010 with IBM i 7.1. That version of the operating system, by the way, was the longest lived version of the IBM i operating system ever, having lasted until April 2018, when IBM finally pulled the plug (after extending the end date at least once).
IBM i 7.1 debuted alongside the Power 7 generation of servers, which have also been quite long-lived and successful in the market. But with newer and faster Power8 and Power9 servers available the Power7 was beginning to look long in the tooth. Hardware upgrades are more involved projects, as moving to a new server can be a complex and expensive process. But IBM can’t support servers indefinitely, and so on September 30 of this year – in 12 days, to be exact – IBM will stop providing hardware support for Power7 servers.
If you haven’t started making plans for moving off your Power7 server, then unfortunately you’re behind the curve. With new Power8 and Power9 machines on the market, don’t expect IBM to bail you out with an extension of hardware support for Power7. You should probably consult your business partner, if you haven’t already, to begin planning your upgrade to Power8 or Power9 (ideally Power9, which has a longer life ahead of it).
Alternatively, there are options for third-party hardware support available in the market. Stay tuned to IT Jungle for news from one of the leading providers of third-party hardware support in this market.