Yet More Trimming In The IBM Power Systems Catalog
March 28, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It is hard to say what is really happening at this point, but either IBM has simply run out of features for Power8 and Power9 servers, it can’t get anyone to manufacture any more of them, or it simply wants to use every means it can to get the market ready to move to Power10 machines when they come out in May or June.
Perhaps it is a bit of all three, eh?
In announcement letter 922-018 last week, IBM said that effective on March 22 it was no longer selling the RISC-to-RISC data migration feature #0205 for the Power H924 server enhanced to run SAP HANA. (Well, more like price cut and configured to make SAP HANA attractive on a regular Power S924, but you know what IBM means.) With this feature #0205 code, which is available on every machine at some point as far as we know, IBM only loads the systems licensed internal code (SLIC) and only the core QSYS kernel of the IBM i operating system and then allows customers to migrate their particular installation of IBM i from an existing machine to the new one.
On June 30, a bunch of peripherals made for the Power S912LC and Power S822LC – servers made by Inspur and resold by that Chinese company in its indigenous market as well as rebadged and sold by IBM elsewhere in the world – are getting the ax. This includes a two port 10 Gb/sec Ethernet adapter made by Intel, a 12 Gb/sec SAS3 RAID card made by SMC, and a 16 Gb/sec Fibre Channel card made by Emulex, a MegaRAID SAS3 RAID controller made by Broadcom, a two-port 16 Gb/sec Fibre Channel card made by QLogic, and 100 Gb/sec ConnectX-4 and ConnectX-5 Ethernet/InfiniBand adapters from the former Mellanox, which has been part of Nvidia for two years now but wasn’t when these cards were made. A bunch of flash drives in various form factors are also being pulled from the IBM catalog at that time. We strongly suspect that supplies are running out for these, and that none of these vendors is interested in – or able to – make the older technology and are in fact struggling to get chips made and boards assembled for their newer features. IBM, of course, does not make any of its feature cards and has not for years; it does design a few things and have them made by contract manufacturers.
This was arguably a short-sighted decision on the part of Big Blue. Being a volume manufacturer as it was before 2014 would have given IBM more sway in the market and therefore a place at the front of the line when it needed things. Not so with the Power Systems line of today.
In a separate development, in announcement letter 922-021, a whole slew of features for very old Power Systems machines – some going back to the Power5, Power6, and Power7 families of systems (and their plus variants) that were still being sold – are getting the plug pulled on them on April 29. Some of these withdrawn things are feature codes to set up microcode, operating systems, and other software on new (and we presume refurbished) equipment from IBM. There were still feature codes active to install OS/400 V5R3 on the Power5+ Power 570 midrange servers and i5/OS 5.4 on Power 520, Power550, and Power 570 machines based on the Power6 processor in the catalog, for instance. Memory cards for the two Inspur Power8 machines mentioned above are getting chopped in this second announcement as well.
If you have a vintage Power Systems machine, or you need to configure one any time soon, you probably should look at the list of gear being discontinued or make sure that your IBM business partner does. And of course, many hardware features and systems that are removed from the IBM catalog are available through its Global Asset Recovery Services division, now part of Systems group after the Kyndryl spinoff, or from other second-hand equipment peddlers.