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AIX and Power Systems 2021 Review, and a Look Toward 2022

As I made my way back up the Bright Angel trail in the Grand Canyon after visiting Plateau Point, I realized that I had not talked about the AIX and Power Systems news and highlights that happened in 2021, and some of the upcoming things that I have to look forward to in 2022.

In 2021 we celebrated the 35-year anniversary of the AIX OS. As Maria Ward mentioned in her blog post, “2021 is a key milestone in the history of AIX as we reminisce on how far we’ve come with 35 years of innovation behind us, but more importantly as we look ahead to the future with a new AIX release that will extend the AIX roadmap for another 10 years and beyond.”

People ask me all the time if AIX is dead, and I have to ask them is COBOL dead? Is the mainframe dead? I have been hearing about the demise of so-called legacy systems for years, but people do not seem to realize just how reliable these computing environments and OSes are, and how hard they can be to replace. Just as the mainframe keeps chugging along, so does the Power Systems ecosystem.

Instead of being dead, in 2021 we were able to download and test an open beta of the newest iteration of the OS, AIX 7.3, and then in December it was made generally available.

As I built LPARs and started my own hands-on experience with the new release, I could not help but think back to the first AIX open beta I installed with AIX 6, and the first open beta version of AIX 7 that I loaded in 2010. One of my favorite things about these environments is the ease of migration and OS upgrades and updates that are taken for granted with AIX. Unlike some other OSes, going from 7.1 or 7.2 to 7.3 does not require any special reinstall, it just works.

In 2021 IBM started the Power10 hardware roll out with the enterprise class systems when they announced the E1080 server, which started shipping toward the end of the year.

What will I be looking forward to in 2022? More deployments of AIX 7.3 at customer locations, and more Power10 server hardware options to choose from. Although I cannot point to any announcements, and I am certainly not attempting to make any here, I do not think it is too much of a stretch to think that if we use history as a guide, we can expect to see Power10 scale out servers to start to be discussed and announced and rolled out. As the enterprise machines continue to be configured and sold, I am looking forward to rounding out the portfolio for these customers that do not have the workload to justify the biggest systems.

Even if you are in a smaller IBM i shop with a smaller machine that finds that one core is more than enough to meet your computing demands, I hope you take the time to explore other Linux workloads that may make sense to also run on your server, and I hope you find value in continuing to keep your server hardware and your OS on current versions that are still supported by IBM.

Part of the joy of migrating to new hardware is that it can be as seamless as running a live partition mobility operation and your end users may not even realize that the hardware that they are running on has changed.
Although it was announced in 2021, another thing to look forward to in 2022 is more of us getting used to the new package manager for the AIX Toolbox RPM packages.

Instead of using YUM, we will now start using dandified YUM, or DNF. As we can read in the blog, “YUM is a Python2-based package manager and Python2 is already out of support from the community.

There was a need to move to a package manager which works with Python3.”

There are resources available to help you with your journey to DNF, as with anything I would start moving from YUM to DNF on test LPARs before trying it in production.

Ferris Bueller reminded me that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What are you most looking forward to in 2022? Is it the new OS? The hardware? Just the knowledge that IBM continues to innovate in this space? Thank you for your time and I will talk to you soon. Thanks for watching.