August 21, 2018 | IBM i

Risks and Strategies for Running IBM i 7.1 Past End of Life


The IBM i 7.1 operating system reached end of life (EOL) on April 30, 2018, and IBM is no longer supporting i 7.1 OS.

But what does reaching EOL mean for shops that are still running i 7.1? i 7.1 didn’t magically stop working on April 30th. Partitions running i 7.1 have continued to run on their existing hardware, and i 7.1 partitions are still running in many organizations. Nothing has outwardly changed for i 7.1 shops, even though IBM has declared i 7.1 as end of life.

The Risks of Running i 7.1

However, just because you can continue running IBM i 7.1 on existing hardware, doesn’t mean you should continue using it. Now that it’s reached end of life, there are risks in continuing to run IBM i 7.1 on older POWER hardware, and these risks can significantly affect your business when trouble occurs.

Here are six risks and costs that companies who continue to run IBM i 7.1 software face if they don’t upgrade their operating systems to i 7.2 or 7.3.

  1. No more normal Software Maintenance – IBM is no longer providing normal Software Maintenance (SWMA) for the IBM i 7.1 OS. For organizations that still need support, customers can purchase an IBM Software Support – Service Extension contract for extended IBM i 7.1 support. Unless you buy a Service Extension contract, you won’t be able to obtain tech support for i 7.1 defects that may affect your processing.
  2. Higher OS costs – IBM Service Extension maintenance is not cheap. Extended support will cost customers as much as a 97% premium over the cost of obtaining regular SWMA support for IBM i 7.2 or 7.3. So if you need continued support for IBM i 7.1, you’ll pay about double what covered users are paying.
  3. IBM is withdrawing support for all licensed IBM i programs licensed under 7.1, unless you (again) purchase IBM Service Extension support for i 7.1 – i 7.1 licensed programs are withdrawn and they are no longer updated under SWMA. While you can purchase extended support under IBM Service Extension, support for IBM licensed packages will be limited to Usage and Known Defect support only. You can view a list of IBM i products that are eligible for extended support and the dates they are still supported through at this link.
  4. No NetServer 7.1 file share support under current versions of Windows 10 – IBM i 7.1 NetServer only supports Server Message Block protocol SMBv1. Microsoft stopped supporting SMBv1 with the Fall 2017 Windows 10 Creators update (version 1709). Current Windows 10 desktops only support SMBv2, which means you won’t be able to map a Windows 10 drive to an IBM i 7.1 file share, if you’re current on Windows 10 updates.
  5. More security issues with IBM i 7.1 – IBM is no longer updating Apache 2.2 on i 7.1. IBM has also stopped updating i 7.1 security ciphers. Running i 7.1 may expose your partition to new threats against older security code. Security functionality in other Internet and network-facing features—such as the IBM i HTTP Server—may also be exposed to new threats.
  6. No new functionality that’s included in IBM i 7.2 or 7.3—Any new or necessary fixes or enhancements to IBM i features and licensed programs that are issued for I 7.2 and 7.3 will not be available in i 7.1.

There are other risks and costs involving the IBM POWER hardware you’re running your i 7.1 partitions on. If you’re running i 7.1 on a POWER6 or POWER7 machine, IBM will discontinue hardware maintenance on both of those models in 2019 (POWER6 will lose hardware maintenance support on March 31, 2019, and POWER7 will lose hardware support on September 30, 2019). So, if you’re planning on running IBM i 7.1 on existing hardware for the foreseeable future, you may also incur additional maintenance costs or lose hardware maintenance altogether next year.

What to do about IBM i 7.1?

You generally have four choices when determining what to do with your IBM i 7.1 partitions now that i 7.1 has gone end of life.

  1. You can continue running IBM i 7.1 on your current IBM POWER hardware, and incur the risks and costs mentioned here along with some other costs, such as third-party applications that are no longer supported on i 7.1 now that the platform has gone end of life.
  2. You can upgrade your IBM i 7.1 partitions to either i 7.2 or 7.3 on your existing hardware, depending on whether your IBM POWER machines support i 7.2 or 7.3. POWER6 hardware, for example, does not support IBM i 7.3, so if you want to stay on your POWER6 machine, you would need to upgrade to IBM i 7.2.
  3. You can upgrade and migrate your i 7.1 partitions to i 7.2 or 7.3 partitions running on POWER7 and later hardware.
  4. You can upgrade and migrate your i 7.1 partitions to i 7.2 or 7.3 partitions running in the cloud.

All of these situations carry their own risk, costs, and considerations when implementing.

For more information about dealing with end of life IBM i 7.1 partitions, check out SEA’s white paper on Considerations and Strategies for Dealing with IBM i 7.1 End of Life. This white paper discusses the risks, costs, and processes involved when determining what to do with IBM i partitions that have reached end of life. It also contains an upgrade checklist to help you decide the best way to handle an IBM i 7.1. EOL scenario.