IBM Power 8 End of Support – What does it mean for you?

As technology ages, it becomes increasingly costly to maintain and update. This is a very relatable scenario for anyone who uses technology. Take for example an 8-year-old iPad mini. Despite still being functional for basic tasks, it can no longer support the latest software and applications, and likely has slowing performance and shortened battery life. Even though it still works, the cost to replace the battery seems hard to rationalize given you are knowingly investing in aging technology.

The same aging technology dilemma holds true for your IBM Power servers. In November of 2022, IBM announced the end of support for its entire line of Power 8 servers as of 2024. Depending on the model, the end of support date could begin as early as March of this year. 

IBM Power 8 end of support (EOS) dates vary by model

3/31/24: maintenance expires for Power Systems S812LC, Power Systems S822, Power Systems S822L, Power Systems 822LC (model 8335-GTA), Power Systems 824, Power Systems 824L, and all variants of the Pure Application System W3700 machines.

5/31/24: maintenance expires for Power Systems S812L, Power Systems S814, and Power Systems 822LC (model 8335-GCA) machines.

10/31/24: maintenance expires for Power Systems S821LC, Power Systems S822LC for Big Data, Power Systems S822LC for HPC, Power Systems E850C, Power Systems E870, Power Systems E870C, Power Systems E880, and Power Systems E880C machines.

Options for your Power 8 servers

End of support means you can no longer get hardware maintenance support or even order upgrades or replacement parts. The good news is IT infrastructure leaders and decision makers still using Power 8 servers have a few options for what to do next:

  • Upgrade your physical on-prem Power 8 to Power 9 or 10. Upgrading the on-prem Power 8 to Power 9 or Power 10 is one option, but it does come with its own set of challenges. Upgrading the Operating System (IBM i or AIX) to support the new hardware is a crucial step, and thorough testing and verification of all applications’ compatibility with the newer OS and hardware are necessary. On the positive, each generation of Power processors is designed to be more efficient, requiring fewer processors to perform the same amount of work. This reduction in the number of cores can lead to cost savings, as software costs are often tied to the number of processors. Additionally, the new hardware often comes with a 1-3 year warranty, which can offset the cost of the upgrade. However, prior to investing in new hardware, you should factor in your organization’s cloud strategy as these capital-intensive investments can limit your flexibility further down the road.
  • Migrate IBM production workloads to the cloud.  If anything should give you pause about buying new hardware, it should be the unprecedented move to the cloud for IT operations. Why? Migrating production to the cloud can be a game-changer for IT professionals and their organizations. The cloud’s pay-as-you-go or pay-for-what-you-use pricing models can provide a significant cost advantage over replacing on-premises systems while reducing CapEx. By leveraging the cloud’s scalability and flexibility, IT professionals can reduce the overall costs associated with technology operations, maintenance, and upgrades, and redirect those savings to other strategic initiatives. Furthermore, cloud solutions provide a higher level of security, disaster recovery, and business continuity capabilities, which are essential for today’s IT professionals to ensure the continuity of their operations and the security of their data. This can be a strategic move that can help to future-proof the organization’s technology and allow IT to focus on more strategic initiatives. It can also greatly improve an organization’s ability to respond and innovate, thereby improving market position and competitiveness. Skytap offers the ability to migrate IBM midrange workloads to the cloud as-is which limits the time, cost and risks associated with moving these workloads to the cloud.
  • Keep Power 8 and contract with 3rd party maintenance companies. Choosing to maintain your Power 8 servers and contracting with a third-party maintenance company may seem like a short-term solution, but it can come with a high cost. Furthermore, it does not address the limitations of being unable to upgrade the operating system and other software to the latest versions. This approach may provide a temporary solution, but it can lead to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long run, and it may leave IT infrastructure vulnerable to security threats and unable to support the latest business needs. IT professionals should carefully consider this option and weigh the costs and benefits before deciding.
  • Move off the platform. Moving off the platform may seem like a logical next step with technology that is going out of support, but it is a complex process that requires a complete application migration. This process can take 1-3 years and it can be a challenging task, as it involves migrating all applications and data to a new platform. Additionally, many newer applications are Linux based, which run better on the Power platform than x86, and often with a lower TCO. However, this option may be the best choice if you want to keep the applications running in a cloud-based environment in a future state. IT professionals need to weigh the costs, benefits and time required for this process, and plan accordingly, by seeking help from a specialized migration service provider to help them through the process. This way, IT can ensure that the migration is done in a manner that is efficient, secure, and with minimal disruption to their business operations.

For more information on the above options for Power 8 end of support download this ebook.

Next steps after IBM end of support 

Before making a decision, it is recommended to perform a performance and capacity planning analysis of the current system. This will help you understand the resources required for any new system, whether it be on-premises or in the cloud. For help with this analysis of your IBM Power servers, contact Skytap.

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