It’s working fine. Why do I need to upgrade my IBM i?

“My system is working fine. Why do I need to upgrade the OS?”

I get asked this all the time.

Well, there are certainly a few reasons, and without getting too technical let’s explore a few of them. 

Pete Massiello iTech
By Pete Massiello

1. Why risk it?

Why would you risk putting your company at risk of running on an operating system that isn’t supported by IBM any longer?  If you are on an older unsupported release, and if something breaks you won’t be able to get a fix for this unless one has already been developed.  Yes, you can have extended support, but do you realize that the cost for one year of extended support is more than what it would cost to upgrade to a supported release.

2. Security, security, security.

About ¾ of the ciphers that came out initially with IBM i 7.1, are now deemed unsecure

IBM has been diligent in fixing security issues for supported releases of the operating system, and the versions of Java that run on those releases. In fact, in a few cases it has provided some Java security fixes for OS releases that have already been sunset. With all the threats in the world today, why would you take the chance?  In addition, about ¾ of the ciphers that came out initially with IBM I 7.1, are now deemed unsecure

3. Leveraging your investment

We pay Software maintenance for support, fixes, and new releases. If you are on an unsupported release, you are really throwing money away, as you aren’t getting anything new. While new functionality doesn’t put your company at risk, staying on these old releases does tie your hands when you want to leverage your investment, as you can’t take advantage of all of IBM’s hard work.

4. To prepare for the future

If you don’t upgrade and stay at an unsupported release for a long time, when it comes time to upgrade, it will be much harder.  This is because of all the dependencies we have on our systems.  Server hardware, tape drive generations, third-party applications, Java, WebSphere, Domino, etc. With each of these, you can’t just jump from an old release to the latest, you have to maybe make one or two steps along the way.  In addition, the new or interim release may not work with where you currently are making the migration even harder. 

“Well, it always works, and we aren’t changing anything. So it should just continue to work.”

With logic like that you should just be an ostrich.

Let me give you an example that might be a little closer to home.

Let’s say you have an older GPS device that has worked flawlessly for years and you are about to go on a vacation. Driving from New York to Florida.  That GPS has worked for years, and you have never updated the software or the maps on the device.  You are about to be in for a shock in you are traveling on this Saturday.   

The GPS Week Number Rollover (WNRO) occurs every 19 years, with the next rollover taking place on April 6, 2019. Similar to odometers in older cars rolling over from 99,999 miles to 0 miles, the GPS WNRO is the resetting of the GPS calendar back to 0. When the calendar resets, it can cause miscommunication between GPS satellites and GPS receiver chips. As a result, some chips in navigation devices will lose the ability to process certain functions.

As we can see from the chart, a new release of IBM i is coming in 2019. 

We already know that you will only be able to upgrade to iNext from 7.2 or 7.3.  If you aren’t on one of these releases and you want to upgrade you will have to do a two-step upgrade.  If you are on POWER7 hardware, IBM has already released a statement of direction, that iNext will not run on POWER7 hardware.  You will need to upgrade to a POWER8 or POWER9 server to take advantage of iNext and everything that it has to offer. 

OS Upgrade Assessment
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One comment on “It’s working fine. Why do I need to upgrade my IBM i?
  1. Rob Berendt says:

    What really floors me are the software vendors still running on older hardware. How can I ever expect them to support me when I upgrade to iNext?

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