Future of IBM i – CAAC Buzz
Recently, the COMMON Americas Advisory Council (CAAC) was in Rochester to see what IBM has planned for IBM i, Power Systems and related products. During my presentation to them, I showed a couple of charts that caused a significant amount of excitement – and quite a few people commented on Twitter. Here’s one of those tweets:
Now, you might wonder if these CAAC members broke some rule by letting out some confidential information. But, in fact, they did not. These people are very professional and treat IBM’s information carefully.
We’ve been using a couple of charts to describe the IBM i strategy as it relates to new function and as it relates to the length of support for releases. We typically only use them in face-to-face meetings, though. Why? Because taken on their own, without the words we’re saying face-to-face, people can misinterpret them. But, because these charts have been presented at several events, the charts are out in the public domain. I figured I’d show them to you today, and I’ll write the key messages we typically deliver verbally.
You promise to read the words, right? The words are important. You’ll read the words? OK, with that promise, here’s the first chart.
IBM i 7.1 added the capability to update key parts of the operating system with Technology Refreshes (TRs), and so far, we’ve delivered five of them. Before TRs, we delivered a new major release every two years. (They used to be even more frequent than that.) With TRs, IBM i has been able to deliver key features such as Live Partition Mobility without a major release. In fact, we have delivered enough function since 7.1 that a full release would have been required to deliver it. Because TRs are more granular, more self-contained, these updates have been delivered without making changes in the surrounding operating system.
However, there will be more major releases. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there are some enhancements that are simply too large and too pervasive for Technology Refreshes. In fact, our IBM i development team is working on two major releases after 7.1 already.
This was the message that got the members of CAAC excited first, and they wanted to know if it was public knowledge. Indeed it is. In fact, a version of the chart is included in the Strategy Paper released by Colin Parris, the Power Systems General Manager. If you’d like to see that, go to the “Power of i” website and download the latest version at http://bit.ly/Powerofi. Now, to be fair, the paper does not specifically mention the future releases that are under development, but the chart is there, and the “i next” and “i next + 1” releases are on the chart.
The second chart – and the one that started the activity on Twitter – points out that the V5R4 release will reach “End of Service” on September 30, 2013. But another point that jumped out at the CAAC members is the time span covered by the chart. Take a look at it, but then please read the words I have after it.
So, there it is: a chart that shows IBM i out past 2025. That’s certainly worth tweeting about. As I’ve said quite a bit recently, though, “it’s just math.” Because the first chart showed two releases under development, clearly they are going to be delivered at some point, and they will have a period of support. Given how frequently IBM i major releases are produced, and how long they are likely to be supported, it’s pretty easy to build a timeline that carries those releases out into the middle of the next decade.
The point I like to make right away is that any line on the chart that has an arrowhead on it represents a rough timeframe. For example, IBM is not announcing an “End of Service” date for 6.1 or 7.1. The chart’s 6.1 and 7.1 arrows merely mean “if these releases have a life cycle as long as V5R4 did, their EoS date will be out to about here.” V5R4 is the longest-lived release ever for this platform. Customers keep asking us to keep releases in market longer, so there’s no reason to believe we’d support 6.1 and 7.1 any less time than we did V5R4, but we have not made any announcements.
Similarly the arrowheads for the “i Next” and “i Next + 1” releases do not indicate dates when we will announce those releases, when they will be available or when we will stop supporting them. However, because we do plan to have new releases, and we’ve told our customers that very clearly, this chart lays out what that would mean, on a calendar.
Many of the messages I give to clients are designed to give them a view of the commitment IBM has for the platform. When the CAAC saw these charts, they thought that the combined message of the two is very powerful. What do you think? Feel free to respond in the comments section.