IBM Power i, formerly known as iSeries and AS/400, is known throughout the industry for its stability and reliability. “It just runs,” is often heard in our office when asked why our IBM Power i team loves working with the server. But because the Power i “just runs,” it is easy to forget to keep it updated.
Beyond a general tendency to forget to update, there are plenty of reasons why your company may have not yet upgraded to V7R1: budget and time constraints, the formidable task of updating third party software, and a false perception of no added business value. However, none of these reasons is more daunting than the fact that IBM is withdrawing support for the Operating System V6R1 starting on September 30, 2015.
If you, like many of our clients, are still sitting on V6R1 or, even further back, V5R4, it is time to make the leap to V7R1. The upgrade from V5R4 to V6R1 is a big one. According to John Paris and Susan Gantner, “the move to V6R1 is the biggest upgrade since the move to RISC.” There is no supported upgrade path from before V5R4 to V7R1; you have to get to V5R4 first. Then you can take one of the supported upgrade paths: V5R4 to V6R1, V5R4 directly to V7R1, or V6R1 to V7R1. Regardless, the further behind you fall from V7R1, the harder it will be to upgrade when the time comes.
The loss of support is one of the driving reasons to upgrade your Power i system. This means those still running V6R1 come September 30, 2015 will lose premium support and program service. While extended support will be offered for clients who need additional time to migrate, the majority will be for a fee, which adds up quickly.
Aside from the obvious support issue, there are a number of compelling business reasons to upgrade to V7R1. In RPG, everything has gone Free format. In prior releases, not all of RPG could be written in RPG Free. Now everything is Free-enabled with few restrictions. New operations codes have replaced outdated specification forms and it’s easy to bounce between old and new coding formats. Additionally, RPG Free provides new ways to handle previously tedious tasks. The new built in function %SCANRPL combines the functionality of %SCAN and %REPLACE to offer a much simpler way to accomplish text restructuring. Additionally, there are now more options for the XML-INTO operation code that make it easier to process XML documents within RPG code.
Speaking of XML documents, they can now be stored directly in the database. Additionally, the OmniFind Text Search facility first seen in V6R1 has been improved to allow for full text searching within an XML document in iSeries.
Improved data security is another key element of V7R1. This includes field-level security as well as column-level encryption. This, according to Paris and Gantner, “allows for completely transparent encryption of specified columns in a table, which can be accessed through either SQL or native I/O operations.”
Ensuring all of your software systems are ready for the OS upgrade through planning and testing is the most important aspect to consider before the actual upgrade begins.
Performing an OS upgrade on the Power i doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With proper planning, thorough preparation and a close look at all third party systems and software tools, the process can become a non-event for business users. At Briteskies, we perform these upgrades on a regular basis. We would be happy to talk to you about planning and executing your next upgrade.
Need advice about what to do to take your IBM Power i to the next level? Contact Us and we can get you started on how to make the jump to V7R1.
Edit: This article previously stated that there was no direct upgrade path from V5R4 to V7R1, which is untrue. It is possible to upgrade from V5R4 to V7R1 without involving V6R1.