What are the True Costs of Staying on Old Hardware?

We all know that one of the major benefits of our beloved IBM i is that it runs and runs well.  We don’t reboot the IBM i to correct application errors.  Our users don’t get a blue screen of death.  The hardware is designed to support businesses with high availability needs.  This also makes it possible to keep hardware running for 10 years or more.

While this may seem like a benefit, you certainly can’t keep a Windows server running for 10 years with little maintenance, it can be a determinant.  We run across companies every day who are running POWER5 and POWER6 hardware and they have no complaints about performance.  They ask us why they should consider purchasing new hardware when what they have is supporting their business.

The argument is often that since there are no performance issues that there isn’t really any reason to spend money on a new system.  The truth is that there are a lot of costs associated with staying with the old hardware that you may not be considering.  In order to truly determine the true cost of ownership of new hardware, we have to compare the cost of increased maintenance fees, the increased risk to the business, the increased cost of migration and potentially increased costs for testing prior to migration.

Increased Maintenance Costs

It’s not news that keeping old hardware will cause your maintenance fees to increase.  Not only does your hardware maintenance costs increase with each renewal, your software maintenance increases right beside it.  If you also keep old OS releases around for a long time, you are probably paying extended support for your software maintenance.

With 7.1 going end of life on April 30, those with old hardware that can’t support 7.2 are going to be charged extended service fees.  In the case of 7.1, with the exception of the P05 group, software maintenance will double.  For a P10, your maintenance will increase by over $4,000 a year.  That’s more than iTech charges for an OS upgrade.

Not only will you pay more money for extended support, you actually get less for that increased costs. You can call IBM Support for problems but, if the problem can’t be fixed with your version of the OS, you are out of luck.  You will be told that the only way is to upgrade, but if your hardware can’t support a new release you’re in trouble.  You may get a few patches but you won’t get any new features or functions, so why pay more and get less?

Increased Risk

IBM has announced the end of support for several POWER6 and POWER7 systems.  The POWER6 systems on the list will reach end of support on March 31, 2019.  The POWER7 systems reach end of support on September 30, 2019. When hardware reaches its end of life you are no longer charged the hardware portion of your maintenance, which does save you money.  We won’t argue this point, but it also increases your risk.

If you are running hardware that is no longer supported by IBM and you are just paying software maintenance, than the potential for hardware failure increases.  With no backup from IBM you could be down for days or longer.  Sourcing used parts can be time consuming and difficult.  Can your business afford to be down due to a hardware failure? Do you know what an hour of downtime costs your company?  What about a day or more?

Security is important no matter what line of business you are in.  You may not have to comply with regulations but, that doesn’t mean that you should just let your data be exposed.  Older OS releases are not as secure, as current releases.  Spectre and Meltdown won’t be patched on your Power5 or Power6 at all. In 7.1, the ciphers are out of date.  Equifax was breached because they didn’t apply PTF’s.  It happens, and it can happen to you.

Increased Migration Costs

When migrating to new hardware you really should make sure that your old hardware and new hardware are on the same OS release.  This makes it easier to migrate, which means it costs you less money.  Not only is a mixed OS migration more time consuming, but it also is risky.

When migrating to different release levels your introduce another problem which is if something fails what was it?  The OS or the hardware?  This means problem resolution could take twice as long.  You have a 50/50 chance of starting with the actual issue.  If you have a migration deadline to meet, to keep downtime to a minimum, you might not be able to meet the expectation. This goes back to increased risk.  This leads me to the next point.

Increased Testing Costs

If you are forced to migrate from old hardware that cannot support 7.2 then you really should test what will happen when you do migrate, before you migrate.  If you don’t have a second LPAR or environment then the costs to test must be included in your considerations of costs.

iTech Solutions often provides hardware to our customers for testing their restore and OS upgrade prior to migration.  We do the restore and OS upgrade for you and give you access to the system for a period of time to test what breaks.  The idea is then to know what we need to fix before we do the migration.  This helps reduce the risk of issues during the migration process, but increases the cost of moving to a new system.

Are you really Saving Money?

The big question is are you really saving money by keeping old hardware and the answer is NO.  You may save some money for a short period of time, but quickly you get to the point where you think you are spending less, but you will really spend more.  Not only will you spend more money on the old hardware, you also lose the opportunity that new OS versions offer you for innovation.  We can help you get the most out of your IBM i investment by helping you leverage what the platform has to offer.  Click here to request your quote today.