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Take the Plunge

Can you move from IBM i 5.4 to 7.1? And should you?

Can you move from IBM i 5.4 to 7.1? And should you?

With the release of IBM i 7.1, many companies may be thinking about making the move to the new operating system. IBM i 7.1 includes many customer-requested upgrades for DB2*, data protection and compliance, and virtualization, which are garnering good reviews. While upgrading to a new operating-system release can be challenging, it’s almost always worthwhile. The improved functionality and enhancements give customers new tools for faster, more robust performance and for doing business with more savvy.

But many may be wondering if they can skip IBM i 6.1 and plunge right into 7.1, and how difficult that may be.

To find out, IBM Systems Magazine spoke with three experts: Kathy Tri, technical lead for IBM i install and upgrade; Steve Will, IBM i chief architect; and Pete Massiello, president of iTech Solutions, who has been performing these upgrades in the real world.

IBM Systems Magazine: IBM i 5.4 was launched in 2006. IBM i 6.1 came out in 2008. In April 2010, IBM i 7.1 was introduced. If I’m a 5.4 customer looking to upgrade, what’s my best strategy?

Will: When a customer is on the oldest release supported by IBM, the customer should look at all of the release options and, if possible, move to the most current one. The latest release will have the most current functions and will be the longest-lived option. Since customers have the ability to move up two releases, the latest one is the most natural option. But, there may be reasons why the customer can’t do that.

Tri: The newest release is the best one since you have support for the longest amount of time. As new hardware becomes available, the current release takes full advantage of it. The other releases may support it and run on it, but might not be able to use the new hardware’s nuances. If the customer is looking at purchasing new hardware, the current release is the best choice.

Massiello: I also recommend that customers upgrade to the latest and greatest OS release, as long as your third-party software packages are compatible with the new release and your hardware can run it. Customers have to look at third-party applications and make sure the vendors will be able to support that new release of OS. If you have those two green lights, then go to 7.1.

“A number of features, especially for the database and other key integrated products, are available on 7.1 but not 6.1.” —Steve Will, IBM i chief architect

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at savage.shirley@comcast.net.

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