End of Support Announced on Popular POWER7 Machines

IT Infrastructure - Other
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Even though the Power 720 didn’t seem that old, it is.

On September 19, 2017, IBM announced that a number of machines will be going out of maintenance in the next two years. The POWER6 iron is to really be expected; however, the POWER7 iron kind of took me by surprise—specifically, the 8202-E4B and 8202-E4C.

Here’s IBM’s list.

POWER6

       
         

Class

Machine Type

Model

Product Name

EOS Date

Blade / Flex

7778

23X

BladeCenter JS23/JS43

31-Mar-19

Blade / Flex

7998

60X

BladeCenter JS12

31-Mar-19

Blade / Flex

7998

61X

ECLIPZ Blade

31-Mar-19

High End / Enterprise

9119

FHA

Power 595

31-Mar-19

High End / Enterprise

9125

F2A

Power 575

31-Mar-19

Low End / Entry

8203

E4A

Power 520

31-Mar-19

Low End / Entry

9407

M15

Power 520 Express

31-Mar-19

Low End / Entry

9408

M25

Power 520 Express

31-Mar-19

Midrange

8204

E8A

Power 550

31-Mar-19

Midrange

8234

EMA

Power 560

31-Mar-19

Midrange

9117

MMA

Power 570

31-Mar-19

Midrange

9406

MMA

i570

31-Mar-19

Midrange

9409

M50

Power 550 Express

31-Mar-19

         

POWER7

       
         

Class

Machine Type

Model

Product Name

EOS Date

Blade / Flex

7891

73X

PS703 Blade

30-Sep-19

Blade / Flex

7891

74X

PS704 Blade

30-Sep-19

Accipter Chassis

7893

92X

Power Chassis

30-Sep-19

Blade / Flex

7895

22X

Flex System p260

30-Sep-19

Blade / Flex

7895

42X

Flex System p460

30-Sep-19

Blade / Flex

8406

70Y

PS700 Blade

30-Sep-19

Blade / Flex

8406

71Y

PS701/702 Blade

30-Sep-19

High End / Enterprise

9125

F2C

Power 775

30-Sep-19

High End / Enterprise

9179

MHB

Power 780

30-Sep-19

High End / Enterprise

9179

MHC

Power 780 IOC

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8202

E4B

Power 720

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8202

E4C

Power 720 IOC

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8205

E6B

Power 740

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8205

E6C

Power 740 IOC

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8231

E1C

Power 710 IOC

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8231

E2B

Power 710/730

30-Sep-19

Low End / Entry

8231

E2C

Power 730 IOC

30-Sep-19

Midrange

8233

E8B

Power 750

30-Sep-19

Midrange

8236

E8C

Power 755

30-Sep-19

Midrange

9117

MMB

Power 770

30-Sep-19

Midrange

9117

MMC

Power 770 IOC

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

1457

7FL

Flex System p24L

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

8246

L1C

PowerLinux 7R1

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

8246

L1S

PowerLinux 7R1

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

8246

L2B

PowerLinux 730L

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

8246

L2C

PowerLinux 7R2

30-Sep-19

Power Linux

8246

L2S

PowerLinux 7R2

30-Sep-19

The fact that these POWER7 boxes aren’t that old may be a little jolting to the average shop. Maybe it’s just perception. I run into a lot of 720s in the wild, and it’s no secret that this was the most popular POWER7 brought to market. They’re everywhere. But alas, this is circa-2010 gear, and POWER8 has been out for a couple of years now. With POWER9 on the horizon, it makes sense to stamp an end-of-support date on these machines in hopes to drive fourth-quarter chatter about moving off those boxes, many of which do support IBM i 7.3. For the POWER7 iron, the end of support being two years out gives those customers the shot in the arm to upgrade to 7.2 or 7.3 before the end of support for 7.1 happens on April 30, 2018. This way, they’re at least prepped to transfer to a supported release on POWER8 when they’re ready to do a hardware migration sometime within the next two years.

This is also not to say IBM won’t offer extended hardware maintenance on any of these machines. IBM usually waits until 4–6 months before the stated end-of-maintenance date to make that offer. IBM i 7.1 still has no extended maintenance offering on the table, but I’d expect that to come down the pike in a couple of months. From a hardware perspective, expect to see something in the spring of 2019 regarding any hardware support extensions.

Since I’m on the topic of IBM i 7.1 end of support, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that staying on IBM i 7.1 would not be a good idea for a few reasons:

SMB1

IBM i 7.1 NetServer uses only SMB1. SMB is a network file-sharing protocol. Microsoft has been recommending customers disable SMB1 for a long, long time. SMB1 is broken and has been compromised by a number of ransomware variants over the last few years. I’m just speculating, but it wouldn’t be beyond Microsoft to eventually disable it by way of a Windows update. This will effectively shut down file-sharing communications from Windows computers to IBM i partitions running only SMB1, like IBM i 7.1. So goodbye to file shares running on your IBM i. You’re far better off upgrading to IBM i 7.2 and applying PTFs MF63692, MF63693, and MF63694 or just upgrading straight to IBM i 7.3. Both paths will bring you up to SMB2.

Java 6

OK, so Java 7 has been around for a few years. Almost as long as IBM i 7.1 (September 2015 actually). Don’t expect to see Java 7 supported past September 2019 either! It’s time to get your workloads moved on up to Java 8 now. The default JDK for IBM i 7.1 is Java 6, so unless you’ve actually installed Java 7 or 8 on your partitions and set your applications to use either, then you’ll be running some risk when Java 6 goes end of support on December 31, 2017. That’s less than 90 days. If you’re going to spend any time on IBM i 7.1 after that, then it’s strongly advised that you upgrade your versions of Java. This isn’t an IBM thing either. Oracle won’t even touch Java 6 at that point.

Security

There are only four secure ciphers on IBM i 7.1, and two are enabled only by manually enabling TLS 1.2, which is a related issue:

  • *RSA_AES_128_CBC_SHA
  • *RSA_AES_128_CBC_SHA256
  • *RSA_AES_256_CBC_SHA
  • *RSA_AES_256_CBC_SHA256

The ciphers not in this list are deemed weak and/or broken.

As for TLS 1.2, it comes turned on by default in IBM i 7.2 and 7.3—plus, SSLv3 is turned off. There are far better default options for encryption on IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 from both a protocol and cipher perspective. And if you aren’t thinking about encryption, then you really need to start.

The Upshot

I mentioned the Java thing this morning on Twitter actually. Someone said, “Remember when everything on IBM i was supported forever?” Some parts, yes. I remember upgrading to 7.1 six or seven years ago when I was a customer and not installing the RPG II compilers intentionally in order to force a tension for change. Some things—such as the ability to run System/36 code—may protect a business investment and could be deemed a positive, but they’re really a double-edged sword. You need to be thinking of your system as a living entity that needs regular care and feeding to keep it performing strongly and secure from the outside world. Some of those changes are forced, such as Java or security. But you can take those challenges and be proactive about them. Everyone should’ve been testing on Java 8 when it was released in 2015. You can’t turn back time, but you can plan on doing these things in the future, such as checking out and preparing for OpenJDK.

The forward progression of IBM i and the removal of older, slower hardware is natural. Onward and upward.

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS