Power7 And Power7+ Will Truly Be Dead At The End Of 2020
October 7, 2019 Timothy Prickett Morgan
There are five dates that define the life of a piece of software and hardware: When it is announced, when it is generally available, when it is withdrawn from marketing, when service is withdrawn on the product, and when extended service (which is limited and which costs a lot more money than regular service) is dropped and the product is truly done for.
With software, IBM sometimes provides service, service extension, extended service extension, and even extended-extended service extension. I am not making this up, and yes it sounds like the Monty Python SPAM skit. Take a look:
As you can see, IBM i 6.1.X was in the field for more than a dozen years, and that was about a year and a half longer than anyone ever expected because of all of that extension stretching.
In any event, people conflate the end of sales with the end of services all the time, but they are certainly not the same thing. Companies like IBM can make big money selling break-fix services for gear that is no longer in the catalog. Keeping track of what is no longer being sold and what is no longer being serviced is tricky – only two weeks ago we were talking about end of life on the remaining Power7 processors, but there were still a few machines on life support – and IBM does not make it easy. We do what we can to keep track of it all and let you know about it.
Like many of you, we thought that IBM had long since withdrawn sales of Power7 and Power7+ iron, and had pulled the plug on hardware support for the older Power7 machinery, too. But there were still some Power7 and Power7+ machines that had hardware support. But not for long. In announcement letter 919-170 on October 1, it looks like the final plugs are being pulled on hardware support for a whole bunch of machines, effective December 31, 2020:
That’s plenty of fair warning to get into the pattern to upgrade to Power9 iron, and well before we expect there to be Power10 iron (perhaps in early 2021 now). The machines in the table above are mostly Power7+ machines from 2012, but there are a few that also support the older Power7 chips from 2010. That’s more than a decade of hardware support for these Power7 machines, and eight years for these Power7 models, so that is a pretty good run. And as we pointed out a few weeks ago, you can also do self-support by buying up used gear on eBay or hiring a third party maintenance company that will buy the parts somewhere (probably eBay) and then give you the handholding you expect.
The following table, which is by no means complete, shows the hardware end of support dates and the operating system support matrix on these machines so customers can figure out what iron they can stay on to preserve their operating system release levels. In some cases they can’t move ahead because they have old applications that need old operating system releases – usually because they went off maintenance and are facing a huge after-support license bill from both IBM and their software vendor to make the jump ahead.
In any event, it would be great to have a chart like this that added all of the machines since Power4 debuted so we could see patterns in the data and predict the future as well as keeping accurate track of what has happened in prior years and what is happening now. It would be a real pain in the neck to build such a table. IBM could probably do it by dumping its online sales manual into Hadoop and doing some SQL queries against it.