IBM tells POWER8 owners: The end is nigh for upgrades

If you want more memory or internal storage, ordering before April 2022 is wise


IBM has warned owners of POWER8 servers that their upgrade options are about to become limited.

A Statement of Direction document published last week states that Big Blue "intends to announce the withdrawal from marketing of MES upgrades to IBM POWER8 systems in January 2022".

MES upgrades cover items such as memory, adapters and internal storage.

An IBM spokesperson told The Register the Statement of Direction is "our way of alerting clients that the component upgrade window is closing soon".

"While we have not yet externalized a specific date that the upgrades will no longer be available, it is typically 90 days from when we announce the actual withdrawal," the spokesperson added.

That policy means that in around April 2022, POWER8 operators won't be able to order any more MES upgrades for their servers.

Customers can choose to employ second-hand or third-party kit, but doing so means IBM won't support their servers.

This is business as usual for Big Blue, which operates a product lifecycle it calls "N minus 2" whereby the company supports three generations of product (the current plus the prior two releases) at any one time. As POWER10 debuted in September 2021, IBM has that platform and POWER9 on sale – meaning POWER8 is on its way out.

POWER8 debuted in 2014, and sales of new kit persisted into at least 2019. IBM's N-2 policy is not news – users have had fair warning about the likely limiting of their upgrade options. POWER boxes are, however, sold as offering superior resilience and sophistication thanks to IBM's optimisation of silicon and OS. Many buyers doubtless plan for extended operations and stock up on parts, hatch plans to run machines in their current state, or accept the risk of not being able to secure Big Blue's support services.

Others may need to start filling out purchase orders for last-minute MES upgrades – or perhaps hoping that IBM's Statement of Direction is altered, as the company reserves the right to change the timetables it reveals in such documents.

Either that or start negotiating a price for new POWER9 or POWER10 kit – or a migration to x86? ®

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