Withdrawal Symptoms: A Bunch Of IBM Services Tweaks, Storage Deleted
September 21, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Every product comes to the end of its life cycle, whether it is hardware or software or even services because it is troublesome to repair or troubleshoot the old stuff as it wears out (in the case of hardware) or suffers from bit rot (in the case of software) or brain drain (in the case of services). And so it is with a bunch of different things that affect some big Power Systems shops.
With a bunch of new Technical Account Manager (TAM) and ServicePac services offerings for the Power Systems line, which we wrote about back in August, it is no surprise that Big Blue is withdrawing its Proactive Entry Support service for IBM i, AIX, and Linux platforms running on Power iron. This is outlined in announcement letter 922-072, from September 13. It looks like the withdrawal from sales is effective immediately, but obviously IBM will honor any contracts for services it has signed until the end of their term.
On August 9, in announcement letter 622-019, IBM let it be known that its Technology Services group, which provides tech support for its hardware and software as well as system integration and other activities, is offering a set of Expert Assist services in conjunction with System z, Power Systems, and storage hardware and that it has simplified and codified these offerings in the wake of the Kyndryl services spinout. IBM is not terribly specific about these offerings, but Expert Assist is aimed at providing technical advice about technology choices and implementations to solve specific problems. You can buy unis of work (we presume this is a block of hours) for remote or on-site help. There really is not a lot of detail available, which is often the case with services announcements. They are often intentionally vague. Then again, so are customer needs when it comes to services.
Now, we switch to storage.
Effective December 16, IBM will stop selling tape drives and media cartridges that employ the LTO-6 format, as you can see in announcement letter 922-096. Customers have then to make orders, and they have to take delivery of the devices by January 16, 2023. The discontinued machines include the Ultrium 3589 and 3599 machines as related peripherals and media. IBM will, of course, be selling these machines in the aftermarket, and so will third parties, for as long as supplies hold out and demand holds up. And of course, hardware support will be available for these LTO-6 machines for a long time. But the appeal of newer, denser tape drives and libraries will no doubt hold some allure. As we report elsewhere in this issue, the LTO Consortium – which is spearheaded by IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Quantum – has just put forth the LTO-14 standard, boasting 576 TB of capacity native and 1.44 PB compressed on a single tape. At 2.5 TB native and 6.25 TB compressed for LTO-6 capacity per cartridge, the LTO-14 standard is 230X as dense. In fact, we think the compressed capacity of a single LTO-14 cartridge exceeds the data on a lot of IBM i systems at small and medium businesses – which is precisely the point.
On December 31, as we see in announcement letter 922-094, select models of IBM’s TS7700 series tape libraries are also being removed from the sales catalog. The 3952F07 model, to be specific. And once again, IBM will still sell them secondhand as long as supplies last.
And in announcement letter 922-105, we see that software has been withdrawn and support discontinued on selected releases of FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R all-flash storage and XIV scale-out storage. To be specific, the XIV Storage System Gen3 software, releases 11.x.x and FlashSystem Software V12, releases 1.1.x, are getting the ax and so are support contracts for them going forward, effective September 16.