AIX 5.3 Users Get a (Slight) Reprieve

March 22nd, 2016

Ron Gordon
Director – Power Systems

There still remains a significant number of customer AIX 5.3 instances running critical application.   These applications have been slow to “migrate” to the latest versions of AIX, such as 6.1, 7.1 or 7.2, because of several reasons:  (1) ISV does not support latest AIX versions (2) source code no longer exists for older applications (3) antiquated device support that cannot be upgraded (4) skills and resources not available due to higher priorities.   As the extended support for AIX 5.3 is due to expire in April 30, 2016, many customers are in a predicament.   The latest news from IBM has given these customers and their applications a temporary solution:  IBM has announced extended support for AIX 5.3 if it runs on POWER8 systems.  This extended support on POWER8 systems is currently only planned thru June 2017, giving customers another year to address migration or upgrade of applications.

The AIX 5.3 extended support on POWER8 does have some requirements.  All the I/O must be virtualized using PowerVM or VIOS or later; the AIX 5.3 environment must be a TL 12 SP9; there is a PTF U86665 to be added to the AIX 5.3 TL 12 SP 9 environment; movement to POWER8 will be via a mksysb image; the POWER8 system must be at microcode 840 or later.  One restriction on the POWER8 partition is that it must run in POWER6 compatibility mode, and will therefore be at SMT2.

As this may still present a migration challenge to customers, due to time or number of applications needed to be migrated, there is an alternative in AIX Versioned WPARs.   AIX Versioned WPARs support AIX 5.3 (and AIX 5.2) running on AIX 6.1, 7.1 or 7.2, running on any Power System that is supported.  Versioned WPARs are a “container” within an AIX partition with a thin layer that transforms AIX 5.3 calls to AIX 6 or AIX 7 calls.  In this environment, the application needs no changes and an mksysb is used to move to the WPAR environment.  The Versioned WPAR option does provide support, and there is no current end date for support of Versioned WPARs.   Previously, there was a GUI interface to manage WPARs and Versioned WPARs called Workload Manager.  Workload Manager required System Director, and as System Director is no longer in marketing, Workload Manager cannot be ordered.  (However, if a customer has AIX EE or has licensed and installed Workload Manager with System Director 6.1, this is a supported environment).   So to use Versioned WPARs, customers without Workload Manager must use the Command Line Interface to WPARs.  As there is no CLI for Workload Mobility, the entire LPAR will use LPM for movement between systems.   The existing Redbook on WPARs does contain most of the information needed, and Nigel’s movies also provide a “how to” scenario.

So, as your AIX 5.3 applications and environment need extended support, and more time to migrate, those are the two options available…  other than running unsupported.


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