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IBM euthanizes Power6 and Power6+ systems

Power7, take it or leave it

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On the proprietary midrange front, there are a lot of customers who are on OS/400 V5R3 or i5/OS V5R4, the former of which is no longer for sale and the latter of which has had its marketing execution stayed twice now. IBM is taking a carrot-and-stick approach to V5R4 customers here in 2011. The Power6 and Power6+ machines are the last ones to support V5R4, and the carrot is that IBM extended the marketing life for i5/OS V5R4 until May 27. V5R4 already had one stay, having been scheduled to be pulled from further sales on January 5, 2010, and in the fall of 2009, when the Power7 machines were not yet out, IBM pushed the date out to January 7, 2011, matching the withdrawal date of that Power6/6+ iron above. The sticks that IBM is using to encourage customers to move ahead include a 25 percent price hike i5/OS V5R4 licenses for Power5 through Power6+ iron and the cessation of sales of the Power6/6+ machinery.

Moving to Power7-based machines requires moving to the IBM i 6.1.1 or 7.1 operating systems, which requires program conversion to be performed. Customers who have third-party applications sometimes do not have access to the source code to do the conversion or are charged exorbitant upgrade fees to do the conversion, and they don't have budget for this. Many who have developed their own applications are trying to avoid doing the conversion because they don't want to mess with working code and they have other priorities. But IBM's moves are giving them fewer and fewer options and raising the cost of staying put.

Which brings me to China. I wonder why IBM's Chinese subsidiary is exempt from the withdrawal, but I have a feeling that China is a kind of dumping ground for older iron at this point. For one thing, IBM is manufacturing the entry Power Systems machines in its factories there, and has been for years. I believe that the initial manufacturing deal was for supplying customers in the Asia/Pacific region, but I would not be at all surprised to find out that the Chinese factories are making all entry Power boxes and have been for years. If IBM has inventories in its Chinese factories, exempting them from the withdrawals would be a way to blow out the inventory. I think that this is what is happening, in fact.

For instance, last week, IBM was bragging about how the largest rural bank in China, the Guangdong Cooperative, which operates banks in seven Chinese cities with 99 member banks and a combined 5,600 bank branches, is dumping a mix of Oracle and Hewlett-Packard machines supporting 23 different banking systems and moving over to Power Systems machines. What did Guangdong Cooperative get for its "new" iron? A mix of Power 570 enterprise and Power 595 high-end servers, plus some Power-based blades and DS8300 disk arrays. These Power servers and disks are all several years old; I am not sure how old the blades are because they were not identified by model.

One last thing: being ripped out of the IBM catalog does not mean that Big Blue is no longer supporting a product. IBM will provide support on Power6 and Power6+ iron for many years to come, and ditto for OS/400 V5R3 and i5/OS V5R4, just as it will do for AIX 5.3. The earlier V5R3 had regular support pulled on April 30, 2009, and has been on program support extension (support for an additional fee above and beyond normal Software Maintenance, or SWMA) since then. That extended support currently runs until April 30, 2012. IBM has not even announced end of support for V5R4, but most people expect it to come in April 2012 – and expect this to be announced any day now. IBM could provide extended support for V5R4 for two or three years, depending on demand. ®

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