Monday December 11, 2017

In the data center environment, IBM i is a powerful operating system running on IBM Power Systems, a turnkey type of OS that requires little or no on-site attention from IT staff during normal operation times. Featuring DB2 support, column level encryption, PowerHA, and more, IBM i is another point in IBM’s status as a leader in the marketplace. It’s highly popular – according to the 2016 IBM i Marketing Survey by IT Jungle and Help Systems, over 81% of data centers were running IBM i 7.1.

IBM Power Systems are incredibly reliable, stable, and secure servers that handle a majority of mission-critical workloads for today’s modern data center, with IBM i 7.1 at the forefront of this popularity. However, no matter the relationship administrators have with their precious systems, the clock is ticking down for how long they’ll be able to run within your environment.

Never can say goodbye

Never let it be said that IBM i 7.1 isn’t a good system, because it is. It opened the doors for many of the modern features, like virtualization host partitioning and better management for servers running previous versions of IBM i. It’s a great system. Other features include:

  • Integration for XML and DB2
  • Data protection and compliance
  • Automation management
  • Telnet client SSL support
  • Support for Apache 2.2 release

While 7.1 is a great system, there are always improvements and with improvements, come new versions of our favorite things. In April 2017, IBM announced the end of support for version IBM i 7.1 in April 2018; the options for this is two-fold –

  • Either pay the service extension fees to keep 7.1 running on your systems
  • Update to the newest releases of 7.2 or 7.3

For some administrators and managers, the thought might be to pay the service fees so that your data center can continue to run on 7.1. This is sometimes a first impulse in order to maintain a continuous workflow – the hassle of downtime in order to upgrade and install can wreak havoc on the work day, so avoiding that is of course a high priority.

However, paying service fees to keep an outdated system running actually costs more in the long run, not to mention opens up a greater potential of security risks and application or program issues later on. As with any technology, the best course of action is upgrading to the most recent update.

IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 are the current versions for the OS and both of them offer improvements and updates from 7.1. While you can upgrade to either of these from 7.1, it’s actually better to upgrade to 7.3. Why? At the most basic level, you should always update to the latest version if you are able, but there are other reasons as well –

  • You have the ability to go from 7.1 directly to 7.3
  • Advantage of the new features of 7.3, including improved BI and increased security
  • Don’t have to worry about upgrading again from 7.2 to 7.3
  • Ability to modernize your environment and infrastructure with new support for Open Source

The biggest advantage to keeping current is the ability to keeps your organization from lagging behind your competitors. OS upgrades can be a headache and it’s a major reason many companies are reluctant to do them, but without the latest version of your OS, your business faces the risk of not being able to take advantage of new innovations and technologies.

Upgrading shouldn’t be a hassle and with our industry experts, we can make sure it’s not.

As an IBM Platinum Business Partner and IBM Beacon Award winner, Ciber understands IBM systems and environment, with a specialized focus on Power Systems and servers. Our team can help you design the most optimal infrastructure, including sizing, configuring and installing any hardware or software your organization needs. If your business needs help with upgrading from 7.1 to either 7.2 or 7.3 or you want to learn even more about 7.1’s end of support and what it could mean for your business, contact one of our specialists.