Solutions for Managing the End of Your IBM Power 7 model 8XXX
What you can do now that IBM has withdrawn hardware and software support?
If you own an IBM Power 7 model 8XXX, you might already be aware that IBM announced their intent to withdraw HWMA (Hardware Maintenance Services) effective 31 December 2020. The IBM Power 7 is part of the IBM Power System servers.
The HWMA is a post-warranty offering that provides continuity of service after the warranty period. Such an offering provides clients with the comfort of timely problem resolution for all their server issues.
End of life (EOL) products
That said, IBM periodically notifies clients of their plans to withdraw selected services for IBM OEM (original equipment manufacturer) machines. Referred to as the termination of support, EOL (end of life).
This is common practice for software or hardware vendors and a sign that your organisation will need to either update / upgrade your hardware or make a change.
What this means is that should your organisation have any issues (performance, functionality and, most importantly, availability), you will need to either manage this internally or hire specialists. Continuing to use a system after its end of life support is not easy nor should it be taken for granted. The potential business cost to your organization when it no longer receives vendor support can be incredibly high, given potential downtime.
But it is not all dire.
Managing EOL products
The option above (update / upgrade your hardware) is not for everyone as it may be not only expensive but disruptive to the business. The second option is to make changes but what are some of the changes that you can make?
The question that enterprise businesses grapple with is this: is continued hardware support vital? It most certainly is given that the mission critical servers are an enterprise business’s most important element of the IT infrastructure.
If your organisation relies on computer systems for your business transactions, record keeping and more, then hardware maintenance is key. A continuous server maintenance plan ensures that your organisation’s infrastructure is maintained consistently and without disruption, and critical data remains available more so for mission critical servers like the power systems.
What are the possible choices?
A. Leave things as they are
Hope is not a strategy which makes this the least favoured option. It involves waiting till something occurs to take action. This can lead not only to higher costs but significant business disruption.
Additionally, waiting for something to break to then begin sourcing parts can lead to a myriad number of issues. There may be delays, non-replacement of parts because these are no longer in production or even, the lack of qualified personnel to know how to deal with the disruption until such time that things can be fixed.
This may be particularly acute during the pandemic, with disruption caused by movement control orders, lock-downs and impact on supply chain, among other factors.
B. Secure an extension to your IBM HWMA or a third party HWMA
Sometimes IBM may extend the HWMA, in which case, if this could be secured will provide temporary relief.
Third party HWMA will provide longer term relief however, the experience and reliability of the vendor in managing and procuring spare parts globally when required remains key.
Many components within the computer today are backed up per design and therefore, this is remains a good option if you have an established third party HWMA provider. However, this is not a very long term solution either.
C. Get a new on-premise server
A straightforward, easy decision is to get a new server.
New servers come with an array of improvements and features, making the proposition seemingly attractive. It will come bundled with appropriate support through implementation and integration but the cost will definitely be higher and there will be a need for planned downtime You will also have to put up with this every 3 to 7 years.
D. Host your IBM applications on the cloud
This is an attractive option for the fact that your organisation will no longer need to deal with server and technology management / refresh / update. Your cloud provider will handle all your licensing and server update needs including PTFs and version updates.
If off-premise, all data centre needs and back-ups will be undertaken accordingly.
The list of benefits are many, from lower costs and higher ROI, enhanced reliability and efficient data management, increased mobility all the way through to advanced security options and the ability to scale on demand.
With many businesses already using cloud technology, it is no surprise to include this as a key option.
Moving to the cloud not only increases efficiency for all, it helps the enterprise focus on their core business, provides a quicker go-to-market, while providing flexibility to scale, thus increasing profitability. All this with minimal or no capital expenditure (CAPEX).
E. (Combining options B and D – A Basis Bay Special Proposition)
Implement a hybrid option that combines third party HWMA and hosting on the cloud:
Superior service. Third party maintenance is typically focused on servicing clients (not selling hardware). As a result, they are more responsive and able to offer faster access and specialised support. Clients, therefore, can expect case management to be more personalised with an experienced technician as their first point of contact
Extended life of equipment. If you have ageing yet stable infrastructure or you’re running legacy software to maximise your ROI, you might prefer to retain this infrastructure. With a third party HWMA, you are able to extend the life of your equipment and continue to service it well past the manufacturer’s end of service
Multi-vendor support. Consolidating services allows you to gain efficiencies and rely on certain predictable costs. It also saves you the hassle of dealing with multiple vendors and alleviates the issue of finger pointing that is typical with having multiple service providers
Customisable service agreements. Third party HWMAs can provide an array of services. This allows you to tailor your maintenance package to your specific needs instead of a one-size-fits-all approach
Reduced cost. A third party HWMA can support you at a much lower cost. The savings are significant, often saving clients 30% to 50% off OEM support prices.
The power of combining hosting on the cloud with third party HWMA
By combining third party maintenance with hosting on the cloud, you can maximise the benefits of a cost-effective model and not have to worry about hardware becoming obsolete or being pressured to upgrade as dictated by IBM’s product life cycle. By prolonging the lifespan of existing hardware, your organisation will be able to continue running legacy software.
Additionally, DevOps can be conducted on the cloud.
DevOps is simply a combination of practices and tools that help an organisation to deliver applications faster than with a traditional software development process. Doing this, you can get the time you need to properly plan your migration or refresh strategy cost effectively. This is particularly relevant for those working in industries that have a strong focus on compliance.
The cloud model also enables organisations to control cost.
The subscription / pay per use nature of the cloud environment provides IT departments with flexibility to scale systems and storage according to their need, increasing or decreasing when required. This is an optimal scenario.
As I’ve mentioned, all is not dire. There are definitely options to consider.
Start evaluating, prioritising and planning your next steps. If you’d like to consider these options in more detail or have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Wong is Director of Cloud Solutions with the Basis Bay Group. Thomas has served in a variety of positions and held numerous portfolios in IT over the last 20 years. His experience, capabilities and passion come together to support organisations in designing and implementing strategies and processes that are sustainable, rewarding and increase customer loyalty. As Director of Cloud Solutions, he oversees a team to architect solutions that ensure high profitability and quality. He advises on best practices within IT operations to bring about an optimised environment. In particular, he provides planning, design and consultancy on green IT infrastructure and initiatives.
Thomas is a certified Data Centre expert, certified Data Centre professional and certified Data Centre Risk professional. He holds a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of East London.