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2024 Outlook for IBM Power Systems Community

Updated: Feb 1


With 2024 now upon us let’s look at what the year is set to bring for the IBM Power Systems community.


Power10

Power10 represents a significant leap forward in IBM's Power server line, offering substantial performance gains, enhanced security features, and a focus on AI and cloud technologies. Compared to POWER8 and older machines, Power10 delivers a compelling upgrade for businesses seeking improved performance, security, and future-proof infrastructure.


In 2021, IBM announced the E1080 Power10 Enterprise machine with its usual fanfare. However, excitement was somewhat tempered while the masses awaited the Scale-Out and Midrange models, which were eventually released in the summer of 2022. Towards the end of 2022, we began to witness a steady increase in deliveries, and this trend continued throughout 2023. As we enter 2024, we fully anticipate this momentum to accelerate.


With this uptick in activity, combined with the fact that POWER8 is reaching the end of support, Maxava is preparing for a surge in “zero downtime” migration requests. We anticipate more organizations will leverage our popular service,  Migrate Live™. This service enables customers to seamlessly migrate from one server to another without any risk or downtime, while ensuring data integrity is always maintained.


For those with an existing High Availability/Disaster Recovery (HA/DR) solution in place and who are considering Power10, Maxava offers competitive solution swap outs, complete with a unique “maintenance holiday”. With Maxava’s maintenance holiday, customers do not start paying for Maxava maintenance until their existing software maintenance expires, avoiding double maintenance charges. This is ideal for transitioning without time pressure, allows for parallel testing, and avoids any cancelation penalties from current HA/DR providers.


POWER8

IBM i System Administrators and IT decision-makers need to be cognizant of the shifting support dynamics. The phasing out of POWER6 and POWER7 systems has already taken place, and for those running on POWER8, the end of support looms large, with all models exiting standard support in 2024. This demands careful strategic planning for the future. POWER8 end-of-support dates are summarized below:


March 31, 2024 – Power S822, S822L, S824, S824L

May 31, 2024 – Power S812, S812L, S814

October 31, 2024 – Power E850C, E880, E870C, E870, E880C


For those considering a hardware change to facilitate an upgrade to a newer version of the IBM i operating system, note key dates and milestones:


IBM i 7.1 End of Service: April 30th, 2018.

IBM i 7.2 End of Service: April 30th, 2021.

IBM i 7.3 End of Service: September 30th, 2023.

IBM i 7.4 in Standard Support.

IBM i 7.5 in Standard Support.


Post the standard support period, IBM offers extended support, albeit on an escalated cost structure. A valid support contract is not merely a formality; it is the gateway to essential services. Without it, requesting a PTF (Program Temporary Fix) or reporting a defect becomes impossible. Upgrading to a later operating system release, such as 7.4 or 7.5, is an option, but the ability to address post-upgrade issues directly with IBM hinges on maintaining a valid support contract or opting for extended support.


Running on unsupported releases poses multifaceted risks, which include an increased risk of security vulnerabilities, more challenges with application compatibility, and compliance challenges.


Recognizing the importance of timely transitions, maintaining valid support contracts, and steering clear of unsupported releases are integral to ensuring the security, stability, and optimal availability of IBM i environments. As we approach the end of support for POWER8, strategic decision-making in respect to your hardware will play a pivotal role in safeguarding the integrity of your IBM i environment. Fortunately, there are several options which include an on-premise upgrade to Power10, a migration to hosted infrastructure, and a transition to a fully managed service which is offered by Managed Service Providers.  Whatever is right for your business, risk, and business impact can be significantly reduced by utilizing Maxava.  Our IBM i consulting services team has vast experience in the migration of the most complex environments for critical business systems. 


If you’re considering a hardware change, this is also a great time to re-evaluate your High Availability/Disaster Recovery software. For more information on upgrading to Maxava HA, please view our FAQs.


Public Cloud

2023 saw the public cloud for IBM i take off. Before 2023 customers had focussed on low-risk migrations in the form of development and test workloads but we are now witnessing more transactional production workloads being run, predominately in IBM Power Virtual Server and Skytap on Azure. With POWER8 reaching the end of support, we fully expect this momentum to continue throughout 2024. Once again, Maxava  Migrate Live™ is proven to be a great vehicle for cloud migration, irrespective of vendor.


2024 will also see businesses increasingly value public cloud services for IBM i Disaster Recovery, allowing them to save money on their co-location sites while adding flexibility along the way. Maxava has helped many customers utilize the cloud for this use case, with both Skytap on Azure and IBM Power Virtual Server popular choices.


We have a selection of on-demand webinars covering topics that include migration, disaster recovery, and the public cloud.


Ansible

It’s expected that Ansible (owned by Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM) will continue to see some growth in IBM i shops where it can be a powerful tool to streamline and automate routine tasks associated with managing IBM i systems. With Ansible, administrators can define and enforce the desired configuration state of their IBM i environments, ensuring consistency and reducing the risk of configuration drift and mismatch. It allows for the automation of tasks like system updates, application deployments, and user management, enabling administrators to efficiently handle large-scale IBM i infrastructures. Ansible's versatility and ease of use make it a valuable resource for IBM i System Administrators looking to enhance efficiency and maintain a standardized and well-managed environment.


Look out for a Maxava “Getting Started with Ansible on IBM i” webinar on April 17.


AI

Power10 integrates dedicated Matrix Math Assist (MMA) units in each core, speeding up AI-related tasks and enabling processing directly on the server without needing external accelerators.


In 2024, AI integration with IBM Power Systems running IBM i is poised to revolutionize various industries by leveraging the platform's robust capabilities. One key application lies in enhancing data analytics and business intelligence. IBM i, with its reliable infrastructure, will enable organizations to deploy advanced AI algorithms for real-time data analysis, allowing businesses to derive actionable insights and make informed decisions swiftly. This integration will not only optimize operational efficiency but also streamline strategic planning, as AI algorithms process vast datasets with unprecedented speed and accuracy.


As AI continues to evolve in tandem with IBM Power Systems, the collaborative synergy is set to drive innovation across diverse domains, elevating the role of AI as a transformative force in technology and business landscapes.


Navigator for i and Access Client Solutions

IBM Navigator for i is the web-based interface designed to simplify the management and administration of IBM i systems. Serving as a comprehensive management tool, Navigator for i provides a user-friendly interface that enables administrators to efficiently monitor and control various aspects of their IBM i environment. From system configuration and security management to performance monitoring, Navigator for i offers a centralized platform for administrators to navigate and perform essential tasks without the need for traditional green-screen interfaces.


Access Client Solutions (ACS) simplifies the management of IBM i environments. This Java-based platform consolidates essential tasks like 5250 emulation, data transfer, running SQL scripts, and open source management into a single, platform-independent interface.


Much like previous years, 2024 is likely to see further development with more features being added in continued efforts to make Navigator for i and ACS the go-to interfaces for all system administration, making the 5250 green-screen near obsolete.


Be sure to check out our upcoming and on-demand webinars that include industry expert-led overviews of commonly used IBM tools.


 

This article is written by Ash Giddings, Product Manager at Maxava

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