Some Confusion Around IBM i 7.1 And IBM i 7.2 Support
December 14, 2020 Timothy Prickett Morgan
In the wake of writing last week’s discussion about how Big Blue would be supporting the IBM i operating system, database, and systems software stack out to 2032 and beyond, I discovered some anomalies in the documentation that IBM has put out regarding extended support for specific IBM i releases.
For many customers, getting beyond IBM i 7.1 is impossible for various reasons, which we have discussed in the past. Some of the reasons are technical – customers have lost their source code and they can’t tweak it to run on more modern releases of hardware and software, or their application software vendor has gone bust or they are off maintenance and can’t afford the after-license back maintenance or software upgrade fees or can’t even think about changing their code right now during the coronavirus pandemic or come up with the money now even if there was no pandemic. This IBM i 7.1 wall has caused Big Blue to do a bunch of different things, including the extended extended support that Big Blue added to IBM i 7.1 back in October of this year, stretching its extended support by two years until the end of April 2023, as well as offering support for virtualized IBM i 7.1, with some limitations, to Power9 iron, which formerly could not run it. Up until then, Power9 machines required at least IBM i 7.2.
I was a bit concerned that I could not recall seeing the announcement letter for the IBM i 7.1 extended service extension, and asked some partners I knew if they could find it. As far as we know it doesn’t, which is weird. I poked around the Web to find the release lifecycle page for IBM i, which you can find here, and something jumped out at me: The line that said Program Support Extension was now active to April 30, 2024 for IBM i 7.1. That’s a bit longer than I expected – a year, to be precise. And the notes said this:
- Through April 20, 2021, IBM i 7.1 Service Extension is new defect plus usage and known defect coverage, subject to any exceptions listed in the IBM Service Extension Offering for IBM i 6.1 and 7.1.
- Starting May 1, 2021 through April 30, 2024, IBM i 7.1 Service Extension is usage and known defect coverage, subject to any exceptions listed in the IBM Service Extension Offering for IBM i 6.1 and 7.1.
My business partner friends poked around looking for documentation on this, because this was new to all of us, and here is what they found for IBM i 7.1 and IBM i 7.2:
Service Extension For IBM i 7.2 Per Processor
One new service extension available in all sales channels. This offering provides extended support from May 1, 2021 through April 30, 2024 for
IBM i 7.2, which will reach End of Support on April 30, 2021.
IBM Software Support Services – Service Extension for IBM i 7.2 provides support for usage questions, known defects, already published fixes, and support for new defects and new fix support. With this service, IBM product specialists can help clients manage their IBM i 7.2 software environments as well as resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
- A service start date of May 1, 2021 or later and the service end date of April 30, 2024 or earlier must be manually entered by the user. The offering should not be allowed to auto-renew.
- The offerings are hardware linked and priced by processor group per active processor
- SWMA for IBM i is the prerequisite service.
- The terms and conditions are contracted on a SOW available in ISAT.
Service Extension For IBM i 7.1 Usage And Known Defect Per Processor
- One new service extension is available in all sales channels. This offering provides extended support for IBM i 7.1 which will reach End of Support on April 30, 2021.
- This offering provides support for IBM i 7.1 on Power7+, Power7 / legacy Power hardware through December 31, 2021.
- This offering provides support for IBM i 7.1 on Power8 hardware through April 30, 2022.
- IBM Software Support Services – Service Extension for IBM i 7.1 Usage and Known Defect provides support for usage, how-to questions, support for known defects and already published fixes. This service does not include new fix support. With this service, IBM product specialists can help clients simplify the management of their IBM i 7.1 software environment as well as resolve issues quickly and efficiently.
- A service start date of May 1, 2021, or later and the service end date of April 30, 2022, or earlier must be manually entered by the user. The offering should not be allowed to auto-renew.
What it looks like to me is that the IBM release lifecycle page has mixed up IBM i 7.1 and IBM i 7.2 with regard to the extended support end date. What is interesting to me is that IBM’s release lifecycle page says that IBM will announced the end date for extended support for IBM i 7.2 before regular support ends on April 30, 2021, but as far as I know this has not happened. But the IBM documents my buddies found above, which came from IBM partner support, are giving the end date for support of IBM i 7.2 as April 31, 2024.
With IBM having an installed base of older operating systems that I think is much older than survey data suggests – it is a hard thing to prove if customers are not really active either buying new hardware, updating software, or reading publications and responding to surveys – I will once again suggest that there is no good technical reason why IBM cannot support any operating system level it wants atop virtualized logical partitions on Power9 machinery, and I fervently believe that IBM should go all the way back to IBM i 6.1, i/OS 5.4, and OS/400 V5R3 if necessary to get every customer on current Power9 iron. And if there are hardware incompatibilities, IBM owns QuickTransit, the low-level systems software that lets one hardware architecture emulate another one – which Apple famously used to move its PowerPC applications to X86 processors without having to change a line of code and without a single hiccup that was ever reported in the press. IBM has the means to get companies moving ahead. It just has to value having a large and happy customer base that will eventually spend a lot of money than having a few customers who will spend a real lot of money now and a large base that will spend no money now.
I know which business model I would pick.
No one is saying that IBM has to do this for free. Just charge a fair price for it. Once customers are on new hardware, then we can figure out how to best update their software. This is a much better marketing plan for Big Blue than having customers move to Windows Server or Linux with Microsoft or Oracle databases running on X86 iron.