IBM i5 / OS V5R4 Software Maintenance

Are you running IBM’s i5 or OS V5R4?  If so, it is probably the lifeblood of your technology infrastructure and is essential that it remains fully operational.  It is a rugged operating system in terms of its stability and reliability, but is also one of the most long-lived operating systems in the history of computing.  Therefore, the fact that IBM is ending its Software Maintenance (SWMA) support for V5R4 on September 30 of this year might be a bit concerning to you.

If you are unable to move to IBM I 6.1 or 7.1 by the end of September, IBM recently announced that they will extend the SWMA support offering for V5R4 for up to three years…so you have time!

The service extension, as explained by an IBM i product manager, covers the V5R4 OS as well as the 45 other licensed program products that are under the SWMA umbrella through the Power Systems division.  Usage support – meaning you try to do something and it is not working right, or you need help figuring it out – is part of the service extension, and IBM agrees to do patches as bugs are found in the code.  However, IBM is not promising to do new feature development on V5R4, so don’t get the wrong idea.  You can’t come to IBM with a wish list and expect IBM coders to build new code for an operating system that was launched in April 2007.  There will not be cumulative PTF updates for V5R4, either, which makes sense because it is not like IBM is adding new features to it.

In early 2009, IBM announced that it would stop selling V5R4 in January 2010, and then in November 2009 IBM extended the life of V5R4 because of the Great Recession and to get IBM i 7.1 out the door in 2010. In December 2010, IBM gave V5R4 a sales extension to May 2011 and it also raised the price on V5R4 per-core licenses by 25% while keeping the prices on IBM i 6.1 and 7.1 the same.

Here is how the license and support costs of IBM i 7.1 and i5/OS V5R4 will stack up when regular SWMA support runs out on September 30.

Back in February 2012, when IBM sun-setted IBM i5 / OS V5R4 for the last time, Ian Jarman, who was IBM i program manager at the time, said that Big Blue would offer a service extension for V5R4 and that it would have in the range of a 70% premium over the regular SWMA price.  IBM made no promises on how long this extended support would be available.

Kristi Jacobson, TSS global service and support executive at IBM’s Software Group, recently explained that IBM looked at industry practices for extended support for operating systems and other programs as well as the cost it takes to provide extended support for V5R4 and came up with a 60% uplift for service extension for V5R4.  So. it is a little cheaper than expected, which is always good news.  IBM is also offering support contracts for one, two or three years starting October 1, and you can do them in one year increments if you want, but of course you run the risk of a price hike if you don’t lock it in under a longer-term contract.  The odds of a price cut are nil.

At the moment, IBM has no plans to support V5R4 under service extension beyond September 30, 2016. That is subject to change, of course.

One important thing.  If you are using V5R4 and you have programs that are not among the 45 LPPs that are covered under SWMA in the IBM i5 / OS group, then you have to work out with IBM or your third party software supplier to make sure those programs are under support contracts.  So, for example, you might have a version of the Domino Server for email and groupware that is running on V5R4, but which you bought through Software Group’s Passport Advantage channel.  This is not covered by Service Extension.

Although IBM will be supporting V5R4 for some time, it is recommended to start the upgrade process to a newer version sooner rather than later, to leverage more advanced features and support.  Learn more about IBM i 7.1.

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