As a freelance contractor, I get to hear about quite a few IBM Power System environments. Some have been built by application vendors who have never opted for a Hardware Management Console (HMC). Many have spent a fair amount of money on dedicated Fibre Channel and Ethernet adapters when they could easily have consolidated the I/O into one or two Virtual I/O Servers (VIOS). There are a lot of mainly smaller systems that are terribly old and out of support, and the business is unaware of the risk.
One suggestion I always make is to consider moving up to newer hardware. Expensive? Perhaps not. An entry level Power 7 server can be a very attractive replacement for an ageing Power 5 which is still under a hardware maintenance contract. And if the Power 5 (or Power 6) is not under maintenance at all? Sure, it saves money, but I wouldn't like to explain that to management when the system goes down for some unknown reason.
Now it seems to me that many companies are holding off Capital Expenditure (CapEx) by not buying new kit. But their cost, and the risk to the business, of running on old hardware strikes me as rarely worth the savings.
The "E" word
The one question to ask is "if this critical system goes down, what impact would it have on your business?" In other words, mention that nasty "E" word,
Perhaps any depreciation of 5 or 7 year old equipment means that the gear itself is worth very little, and yet it's still running a critical part of the business. There may have been plans afoot to upgrade or to migrate to a new platform or application, perhaps in the cloud. In the meantime, nothing happens, and worst of all, the server is on an out of support operating system,system firmware and maybe the application.
There are a few simple steps you may be able to take to get the system back under support.
- Upgrade the system firmware
- Update (or upgrade) the HMC if you have one
- Upgrade the operating system itself, ideally to the latest of AIX 7.1.
These simple steps make a transition to a new Power 7 server much easier. Perhaps the HMC can connect to both the existing, ageing server and the new P7. Similarly, the migration to the P7 doesn't need to include the OS if that's already been done.
Even if you're not moving up to a new Power System, doing those OS and firmware updates can at least smooth the path to get you back onto support. And if you do the upgrade to the P7, you might be able to save significantly on power and cooling costs as well as rack space.
Where have you been, Anthony?
If you are interested, you may like to keep up with some of my articles and blog posts. I have been writing regularly for IBM Systems Magazine EXTRA eNewsletter, and also for Power IT Pro magazine. I do the occasional article for IBM developerWorks, too.
Here's an article on The Pros and Cons of Being an IT Contractor. Have a look at some other articles here:
And I've been keeping busy writing for Power IT Pro.