If you thought it was tough to get your hands on an Power 520 or Power 550 server using one of IBM's older dual core Power6 or Power6+ processors in the fourth quarter, then you're in for a shock. It is going to get a whole lot harder to get one of these machines very soon ... This is because Big Blue has pulled the plug on these and other Power Systems machines in the same generation and will stop selling them in the coming months.
There are exceptions in the Greater China Group, however – which is something I have never seen before in an IBM announcement letter. (I wonder what that is all about? Hmm. . . . )
In any event, in announcement letter 911-010, IBM says it is removing the Power6 and Power6+ machines that are still in its catalog. The BladeCenter JS23 and JS43 blade servers (7778-23X) are no longer going to be available after April 29 of this year. The Power 520 (8203-E4A) and the Power 550 (8204-E8A) are withdrawn from marketing on May 27, and the high-end Power 595 gets the axe on July 29. IBM says that JS23/JS43 buyers should look to the PS701 blade, Power 520 shoppers should think about a Power 720, Power 550 shops should consider a Power 740, and Power 595 tyre-kickers should ponder the Power 795 as replacement products once these old machines go off the market. I would add that there are plenty of third-party equipment dealers who want to talk to you, too. You don't have to buy a new box if it doesn't suit your needs.
The withdrawn machines run IBM's AIX variant of Unix, Linuxes from Red Hat and Novell, and IBM's own i5/OS V5R5, i 6.1, and i 7.1 proprietary operating systems (which include an embedded relational database management system). The various IBM i edition packages for the low-end Power 520 and Power 550 machines (Entry, Growth, Express, and Solution) are getting dumped into the dustbin.
So too are processor cards, memory features (4GB and 8GB sticks), and disk drives (139.5GB and 283.7GB capacities at 15K RPM speeds) for these machines, as well as a slew of other peripherals like RIO-2 I/O adapters, various DAT320 and LTO4 tape drives, and cables and such. And in a sign of the times, the external high-speed modem (no doubt running at a 56K baud rate, and remember when that sounded fast) used in generations of iSeries and Power Systems boxes, is having its plugged pulled on July 29.
IBM removed the Power 560 and Power 570 machines from its catalog last July. These boxes were on the high side of midrange-class or the low side of enterprise-class, depending on how you want to carve up the market. IBM's last day of selling these two Power6/6+ machines was January 7 of this year. And last fall, IBM killed off the JS22 blade server, which was based on the Power6 chip. The last day the JS22 was for sale was January 7 as well.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that IBM does not want to make these older Power6 and Power6+ machines any more, since it is trying to ramp up sales of the Power7-based machines. AIX 5.3, which was released at the same time as the Power5 and Power5+ systems back in 2005 and 2006, respectively, is supported on Power7 iron. So AIX customers can move OS levels to AIX 6.1 or AIX 7.1 (or not) as they see fit. IBM plans to cut AIX 5.3 from its catalog on April 29 this year, however, so companies that want to use this older version of the operating system have to act fast. IBM will continue to support AIX 5.3 for many years, of course, and is creating a workload partition that can host AIX 5.3 to be delivered at some future time.
Last August, Big Blue announced that it could virtualize an AIX 5.2 instance and suck it into a workload partition on its PowerVM hypervisor running on Power7 iron and run it unchanged. There are some limits on these AIX 5.2 WPARs, such as only supporting the JFS2 file system and not NFS and management tools used to run free-standing AIX 5.2 machines not working within the WPAR, as El Reg explained last fall.