A while back, I wrote about the questions I get asked most frequently, and I am happy that, over the past two weeks, I have been able to answer two of them in this blog. The first, of course, was answered last week when we announced the inclusion of RPG OA function in the RPG compiler and IBM i runtime. The second is answered this week, when I can finally respond clearly to people who ask “When is V5R4 going out of service?”
It’s quite understandable that people ask the question. V5R4 has been available since 2006, and with its End of Service scheduled for 2013, it will have been supported longer than any prior release. People kept expecting the end to arrive. Now we can see that end.
Over the past couple of years one of my messages in any customer presentation has been this: Clients want to be able to remain on releases longer. Why? Primarily because the move to another release is disruptive, even if the actual process of upgrading is relatively simple. And yet, it’s also important to move clients forward. Within IBM, we’ve been listening to all of our various constituents to determine the right time to end service on this good, but aged, release.
We’ve also been listening to clients tell us that they need a good amount of time to plan for that end. By announcing it today, we are giving our partners and customers over 19 months to prepare for and move to a later release.
I’ve been giving presentations, and participating in webcasts, with the topic of moving up to POWER7 and IBM i 7.1 for quite some time. And, by the way, a very large number of clients have listened. There are more clients on 7.1 now (about 21 months after its GA) than there were clients on 6.1 at the same point in its history, and this has been possible because people who upgraded from V5R4 took advantage of the ability to skip a release – to upgrade directly from V5R4 to IBM i 7.1.
Also included in the announcement is a statement of direction to offer a Service Extension. Sometime within the next year, you can expect to see a specific announcement about that, but the idea is that clients who simply need more time will be able to get it. However, the extension will cost more than their current software maintenance, and clients who buy it will not get new features or even cumulative PTF packages past the September 20, 2013 date. You can get details on this, as they are available, from your business partner. IBM will be educating business partners with the specifics as they are defined.
Over the past year or two, I have heard many customers and ISVs say that they really need to have an official V5R4 End of Service date. Some organizations will only consider a move to another release when their current release has that end date. So, despite wanting the great new column-level encryption support, or image management support, or performance improvements, they need the impending end of service to push them that last little bit toward an upgrade.
For this reason, I expect to spend the next year or so fielding questions like “What’s in IBM i 6.1? How about 7.1? How can I learn about moving up? What about that “retranslation thing? Where do I find the technical documentation for IBM i 7.1? And what about the latest news and post-7.1 features?”
I don’t worry, though, because we have the answers. If I don’t have them personally, I know the people who can get them. And I look forward to bringing these clients the news about the great new capabilities they will have on their new IBM i release.
For those of you already on a later release, stay tuned. We are not done announcing things. Not by a long shot.
Twitter: #ibmi, @Steve_Will_IBMi