BLOG: IBM Power Systems Latest Software Updates

March 10th, 2021 BLOG: IBM Power Systems Latest Software Updates

Ron Gordon
Director » Power Systems

Recently, IBM released updates to almost all the system software supporting Power Systems. These updates apply to and support almost all data centers, adding efficiencies and automation. At last year’s Virtual Power Technical University, IBM previewed some updates but because of the COVID-19 pandemic and being busy in general, many people didn’t catch the sessions. There were also releases and functional enhancements in December 2020 and January 2021 for almost all the software products supporting the operations of Power Systems as well as some changes to IBM Cloud PowerVS and RedHat hybrid capabilities.

Some of the enhancements seem particularly significant, and this blog will provide a high-level overview of these enhancements:

  • IBMi 7.1 supported in IBM PowerVS
  • IBM AIX release and EOS dates
  • Content changes for AIX-EE and Enterprise Cloud Edition (ECE)
  • Updates to PowerHA and PowerSC and MFA
  • Performance gains in LPM in PowerVM
  • HMC EOS on certain models and FW updates requiring CR1s

Please note that this list of changes and enhancements is not all-inclusive. For a full list, see the IBM announcement letters or visit the IBM Info Center.


IBM Cloud PowerVS and IBMi

The name PowerVS is becoming ubiquitous now rather than the long name IBM announced in 2019, “Power Systems Virtual Servers in the IBM Cloud.” One of the latest changes is the support of the IBMi 7.1 operating system including extended support for both “bring your own license” and “move license” as optional OS choices. IBM has also announced that when IBMi 7.2 reaches end of support in May 2021, IBMi 7.2 will continue to be supported in the PowerVS with extended support. This should be good news to all the IBMi users who cannot immediately upgrade to 7.3 or 7.4 releases of IBMi.


AIX new release, POWER10 support, and EOS and EOL dates

IBM released AIX 7.2.5 in November 2020 and announced AIX 7.2 end of support for mid 2027. While AIX 6.1 is now EOL, IBM also announced that AIX 7.1 TL5 will be the last TL released and EOS will be June 2023. Additionally, IBM announced that AIX 7.1 and AIX 7.2 will support POWER10-based systems when available. A couple of the new features in AIX 7.2.5 are the availability of the command to create an OVA image of a partition, enhanced security, FC-NMVe support, live-update enhancements, and NPIV performance due to implementation of multi-queue support.

These announcements seem to meet the latest high-priority request for functionality of our AIX customers, which shows IBM is keen on supporting your needs and does listen and react. There are also other enhancements not listed here which may apply to your needs, so please see the announcement letter or Info Center for the full list.

Lastly, IBM has made a SOD for AIX 7.3 in 4Q to support POWER8, POWER9, and POWER10. Details on this 7.3 release have not been announced at this time.


AIX Enterprise Edition and Enterprise Cloud Edition

Along with the AIX enhancements above, IBM also enhanced the AIX Enterprise Edition and the AIX Enterprise Cloud Edition (where AIX is optional). AIX-EE 1.4 was released in November 2020 and the next rev will be 1.5 in 4Q 2021. The updates to the 1.3 version over the 1.2 version include PowerVC Cloud Manager 1.4.4, ITM 6.3, PowerSC 1.3 with MFA, and VMR HA 1.5. In AIX-ECE, the 1.3 release has been updated with PowerVC Cloud Manager 1.4.4, the latest CMC support, PowerSC 1.3, VMR DR 1.5, and Aspera V4. These changes keep the Enterprise Editions current with the latest component updates.

For timing and testing reasons, the current Enterprise Editions include PowerVC Cloud Manager 1.4.4, while in December 2020 IBM released PowerVC Cloud Manager 2.0 with a new GUI, support of PowerSC MFA, support of Persistent Memory in PowerVM, and both SLES and RHEL 8 certification. These are all great changes to support the hybrid cloud environment and we can look forward to the Enterprise Editions’ next revision to include PowerVC 2.0 in 4Q 2021.


High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HA & DR)

In the high availability area, IBM announced PowerHA 7.2.5 for AIX with GUI and application management enhancements in December of 2020. For IBM Virtual Machine Recovery Manager (VMR), the new VMR 1.5 release now has expanded role-based management and health monitoring improvements in storage monitoring for improved HA virtual machine management. Any improvements in HA and DR are important to supporting minimal downtime due to application failure, which is very costly to companies when mission-critical systems experience an outage.



Another area key to companies today is security, and IBM PowerSC and MFA are now supporting IBMi and Linux distributions with the 1.3 release. As mentioned previously, this release is now included in the Enterprise Editions.



An underlying component of all Power Systems is PowerVM, which controls the virtual machines in the Power Systems. The December 2020 PowerVM release added Live Partition Mobility enhanced with support of higher levels of threading. This results in greater performance when executing a Live Partition Mobility operation and can improve that performance up to 30% when there is large memory being relocated to a different server. This should be particularly important to SAP HANA LPM operations.


HMC Changes

Lastly, while not a new announcement or enhancement, the CR9 HMC is being withdrawn September 2021 and all future releases of HMC OS will have the V9R2Mxx designations, with V9R2M950 being the current release. This release of the HMC OS will only run the 7063-CR1 HMC. The implication is that customers who wish to have an HMC hardware appliance should have or obtain a CR1 or the Virtual HMC that can run on x86 or Power Servers. This is important for firmware updates and management.


Additional Information

That is a lot of enhancements! Please investigate these as well as the IBM Info Center or announcement letters to learn about additional enhancements and how they can benefit the operations and management of your Power Systems environment, or speak with your Mainline representative to see the complete list of enhancements.

To learn more about IBM Power Systems, contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or reach us here. Our team of experts is available to assist you with your business IT initiatives and help you maximize your investments.


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