IBM i 7.3 Loses Standard Support On September 30, 2023
October 3, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Big Blue just got the IBM i 7.5 operating system and system software stack out the door for Power9 and Power10 machines back in May, and from that moment the clock was ticking on regular support for the IBM i release that came out in April 2016 and that represents the second most popular release on primary machines based on data from the most recent IBM i Marketplace Survey.
Most operating system makers – there are not that many of them left in the datacenter these days – offer standard support for their releases and versions for seven years and then offer another three years of extended support with security patches and limited feature patches for another three years after that. IBM i 7.3 started shipping on April 15, 2016, starting out life concurrent with Power7+ machines and backcast to Power7 but not to Power6+ and Power6 iron. IBM i 7.3 has been tweaked to support Power8, Power9, and Power10 operating systems with IBM’s Technology Refresh update mechanisms.
The end of support for IBM i 7.3 was revealed on September 27 in announcement letter 922-106, and it came as a bit of a surprise in that Big Blue has not yet stopped selling IBM i 7.3. End of marketing comes on April 28, 2023; some IBM i 7.3 tools will be sold through December 30, 2023.
Here are the stats for all 26 of the OS/400, i5/OS, and IBM i releases announced since June 1988:
One reseller we talked to about this last week, who may not be indicative of the IBM i base as a whole, has more than 200 customers on IBM i 7.3 that are being supported by his managed services organization, and only one is on IBM i 7.2 and only one is on IBM i 7.4. The customers, says this reseller, are not ready to move to IBM i 7.4 and we would not be surprised if they wait it out and move to IBM i 7.5 on Power10 iron. About a third of this reseller’s customers are on Power8-based machines, while the other two-thirds are on Power9 iron.
End of standard support for IBM i 7.3 is September 30, 2023, which is five months after the end of extended support for IBM i 7.1. IBM i 7.1 will be supported in the field for 4,755 days when support finally expires on April 30, 2023, which is 65 percent longer than OS/400 V5R3 was supported, 22.5 percent longer than i5/OS 5.4, and 23.7 percent longer than IBM i 6.1.
This is significant for two important reasons. Based on the survey data from the 2022 IBM i Marketplace Survey done by HelpSystems, IBM i 7.1 is the largest primary operating system installed in the IBM i-Power Systems customer base and IBM i 7.3 is the second most popular. Take a look:
By the way, IBM has not announced what extended support for IBM i 7.3 will cost and how long it intends to offer extended support. But given the size of the IBM i 7.3 base, it might be extended a couple of times as happened with IBM i 7.1. The reason is simple: All of those IBM i 7.1 customers have to go somewhere, and while you can skip one release, such as in this case going from IBM i 7.3 instead of to IBM i 7.2, you can’t skip five releases ahead in one fell swoop to get to IBM i 7.5. And no one wants to do that anyway, even with a move to Power9 or Power10 iron as many customers will do this year.
We think it is fairly likely that IBM will offer extended support at least through September 2026 for IBM i 7.3. We will be keeping an eye out for the formal announcement.