continuing IBM OS after end of support

Any business looking for end of support options for IBM’s AIX or IBM i can rely on us, the UK’s leaders in third party software maintenance. We’ve gained an outstanding reputation in supporting IBM Power Systems and we’ve helped many businesses continue using their infrastructure after their operating system (OS) has gone End Of Life (EOL).

IBM offer two distinct OS platforms for IBM Power Systems. IBM i is often referred to as OS/400 and the hardware platform is usually known as AS/400 or iSeries, but the official IBM terminology is IBM i. The other is AIX, a Unix-based OS with a heritage that spans the pSeries era of hardware and goes back as far as the RS/6000.

End of service life for IBM operating systems is usually 12 months after the end of marketing date and comes just over 7 years from general availability.

What this means for IBM i users

If you are taking IBM’s OS support for IBM i 7.2 in its most common form of IBM Software Maintenance (often referred to IBM SWMA and sometimes pronounced as ‘swarma’) and you place a call for an issue after the 30th April 2021, you will probably be asked to upgrade your OS to a supported level! If you have IBM support on any version before that, you’re already in a position where you probably won’t get future support.

What this means for AIX users

With AIX 7.2, TL3 goes end of service 30th September 2021, with TL2 already ended on 31st October 2020. As with IBM i, if you’re using IBM’s OS support and you call for any issues after the end of service life, you can expect to be told to upgrade your AIX version.

Your next move

All these versions are stable and the majority of code issues can be resolved by an existing fix.

Being told you must upgrade your OS level before you get support is not the news you want to hear, as it means a potentially expensive exercise that requires time and in-depth expertise. Most businesses must plan an OS upgrade way in advance and plan schedules for testing. Then there are those who are stuck on an OS level because their application will only be supported on that version unless they commit to time and expense on finding a way to upgrade the application.

All the available options to continue your IBM OS:

  1. Remain as you are
    There are so many users that just keep paying for IBM SWMA on an end-of-service-life (EOSL) OS, assuming they will still get support when they need it. They won’t, even if they  have never logged a call while paying for it. They are in a similar position to those in option 4, and would likely need to pay for extended support (see below option) or look for third party support (option 5).
  2. Have your OS upgraded
    This takes a lot of planning time, plus it needs a test system to detect any risks or faults – an essential step. Restoring a copy of the live system into a test environment, performing the upgrade and then spending time to test, is a big commitment and can cost money if you need the support of third party skills and hardware.
  3. Buy IBM’s extended support
    Based on previous IBM OSs that have gone end of life, extended support would likely cover any new faults and existing faults for a period and then reduce support levels to existing fixes over time. This option is designed to remove the risk, however, based on previous experience, it often comes with a premium price tag and like basic IBM SWMA, you have the burden of buying extended support in country.
  4. Do absolutely nothing
    Yes, that’s letting the IBM SWMA lapse and not replacing it. If you have never placed a call this can be tempting, but don’t forget that like hardware maintenance, SWMA is an ‘insurance’ for when you need support. If you there’s no support plan in place you can end up paying a premium for it when it is needed. In addition, you may face delay, raising POs and getting approval to pay for the support.
  5. Third party software support
    If you’re stuck with an out-of-date IBM OS, this is a great alternative. As mentioned above, IBM SWMA will offer little in the way of OS support after EOSL, especially if you are at least two iterations behind the current version and are stuck with it for a prolonged period. It’s highly likely you will need to look at the details of your circumstance to ensure letting IBM SWMA lapse works for your business, but the typical advantage is a reduction in OS support cost and can usually be delivered out of country, expanding your options.

We can help you with all the options listed, plus IBM extended support, OS upgrade and third-party support. This service is already delivered globally, so even if you are not in the UK you can benefit. Contact us today.

Stuck running IBM i V7.1 or below? You should talk to us. You could be surprised at the options available. During lockdown, we helped a business move from OS/400 V3R2 to IBM i V7 in the cloud.

You can find further details on the EOSL for your IBM i OS here, directly from IBM. AIX users can find EOSL details here, which are also directly from IBM.


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