Happy BirthdayThere’s a birthday coming up for a dear old friend and it presents an opportunity for reflection. On April 23, IBM i 7.1 will reach its 7-year milestone as a supported operating system. If IBM announced an end to 7.1 support today, it will have been the longest fully supported release in the history of IBM i.

As an IBM i subject matter expert, April 23 has a special significance for me but it also presents an opportunity to discuss significant differences between IBM i 7.1 and the later releases, information that will benefit anyone still running at the 7.1 release.

Case in point, 7.1 has been a symbol of stability and support to many of my clients over the years. The common refrain for not upgrading is that 7.1 is a workhorse that just keeps running. This is true, but there’s much more to consider.

For background, IBM is supporting three releases of the IBM i operating system: 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3. Supporting this many releases for such an extended period is unusual, and 7.1 is beginning to show its age. Part of 7.1’s ability to exist for so long involves the Technology Refresh (TR) function. Introduction of the TR is a great way to avoid full version upgrades but many features that are being implemented for IBM i 7.2 and 7.3 are not being back-leveled to 7.1.

Some of these features include:

– Improved ciphers for secure communications

– Changes relating to row- and column-level access control (RCAC)

– Great new open source offerings

– New functions for reverse-tracing of how security access is granted to objects (authority collection)

Although some clients may never need any of these features, others have bumped into limitations with the ciphers at 7.1 and have also found great value with the new functionality released in 7.2 and 7.3. What’s more, complacency with patching and OS upgrades can cause problems if ignored. Security is just one aspect of keeping updated. In sum, it just makes good sense to have a plan and to follow that plan in order to stay current.

At Sirius, we have many options to help our clients. In both Managed Services and on the consultancy-side of the business, we can make sure your Power Systems environments running IBM i, AIX, or Linux on Power are up to date with the latest patches, new versions, and fresh updates needed to keep things running smoothly and securely. If a one-time process for version upgrades is required, a consultancy engagement can meet that need. Regardless of what you choose, keep in mind that the “it just runs” attitude has associated risks. You may find that something you need to enhance your business is in a patch or perhaps a new release. Keeping current will allow your systems to operate with less delays and greater stability and usability. And as more supporting systems are added and the complexities increase, no longer does only IBM i need to be considered, but also the potential of Virtual I/O Server (VIOS), Power Systems firmware, SAN environments, and external storage.

Click here for further information on new IBM i tech updates. Or check out the support schedules for all current and historical releases of IBM i – this is where IBM will document the end of support date for 7.1 when that time comes to pass.

If you would like help designing a long-term plan or need support for ongoing upgrades and patching, contact Sirius to begin this important conversation. A national leader in managed services and cloud solutions, Sirius has a history of success supporting systems and applications in both client-based and Sirius-provided data centers. We help clients achieve their business goals by giving them the freedom to focus on what’s strategic as we manage their IT infrastructure at the highest levels of excellence.