AIX 5.3 Service Extension

In 2004, the “Opportunity” rover landed on Mars. Janet Jackson had a “wardrobe malfunction”, Google launched gmail, and AIX Version 5.3 was released.

Eight years later, AIX Version 5.3 will officially go out of standard support at the end of April 2012.  AIX 5.3 will probably go down in history as one of the most widely adopted releases of AIX due to features such as support for POWER5, POWER6, MicroPartitions, Virtual I/O, 64 core scalability, SMT2, NFSV4 and a host of other features. But, like all good things, it too, must come to an end.

The reason it has to end is the “N-1” policy for AIX releases. That means that there are generally only two releases of AIX in the market at any given time. This is done primarily because most independent software vendors (ISV) can only support two operating system levels at any point in time. If you have more than two AIX releases in the market, then ISV support would get fragmented across those releases. As a result, there are only two releases of AIX currently in the market – AIX 7 and AIX 6

Unfortunately there are a lot of clients out there still running AIX 5.3    It’s not that they didn’t have warning, IBM announced AIX 5.3 was going to be withdrawn from marketing back in the spring of 2010. But it is often difficult for clients to move to a new AIX release because they need to coordinate the move across their entire application ISV application stack.

ISVs often release a new version of their application every 12 to 18 months. Many clients don’t update to a later version of the application that often, so when it’s time to upgrade the AIX release, they also need to update to a later version of the ISV application. The need to upgrade the AIX OS and the ISV applications at the same time requires a lot of effort, so it often takes a long time to make the transition.

To help clients that could not make the transition to a later level of AIX from AIX 5.3 by the end of April 2012, we are making available a new service extension for AIX 5.3. This service extension will allow clients to continue to get support for AIX 5.3 even after the end of standard support. (Announcement letter here )

This new AIX 5.3 service extension offering will:

  • Provide usage support such as answers to configuration questions and problem determination
  • Provide new fixes. This includes fixes for newly discovered security exposures. New fixes availability are subject to the standard “best commercial effort” restrictions. Fixes will be provided via interim fixes and, in some cases via Service Packs
  • Be available for three years, May 2012 – 2015. Of course, plans are always “subject to change”
  • This service extension is only available for AIX 5.3 Technology Level 12. Earlier AIX 5.3 Technology Levels will not be supported under this offering.
  • New hardware toleration. As new hardware becomes available over the next two years, we will provide new hardware toleration when possible. This will not include new hardware that requires architectural changes.
  • This service extension offering will be priced per core and will be subcapacity eligible. In other words, if you have 4 cores running AIX 5.3 on a 16 core server with AIX 7 running on the other 12 cores, you only need to purchase the AIX 5.3 service extension for the 4 cores running AIX 5.3
  • Minimum term of six months. In most countries you will need to purchase this support for at least six months at a time. In the US, the minimum term is 90 days.
  • Normal AIX Software Maintenance (SWMA) required. You will need to purchase this service extension in addition to normal AIX SWMA.

As you might have noticed, this service extension is significantly different from prior AIX release service extensions in three ways:

  • New fixes will be delivered via Service Packs for the first two years
  • Enablement for some new hardware will added during the first 2 years
  • Announced with consistent prices and terms worldwide

For the first two years, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, we intend to publish two Service Packs per year as part of this service extension.  These Service Packs will include cumulative fixes and new hardware enablement. Note that these Service Packs will only be available to clients that have purchased the service extension.  In addition to the Service Packs, clients will still be given Interim Fixes to address immediate issues. No service packs will be released the final year of the service extension, 2014-2014. In the last year, only interim fixes will be available and those will only be provided only as needed.

As noted above, we intend to provide support for some of the new hardware that is expected to be released after April 2012.  This new hardware support will not include support for any new hardware that requires architectural changes or nor will the support provide any exploitation of new hardware features.

The pricing and terms and conditions for the AIX 5.3 service extension will be very similar world wide, with variations for currency and other country specific requirements.

Some people have asked me about when they should use the AIX 5.3 service extension versus using the AIX 5.3 Workload Partitions product. The answer is pretty easy – if you intend to migrate to a later release of AIX, then use the service extension to bridge you to that point. If however, you believe that you will need to run AIX 5.3 indefinitely for a particular application, then the AIX 5.3 WPARs is the better choice.

Hopefully I have answered most of your questions about this new AIX 5.3 service extension offering. The intent of this offering is to help clients remain supported as they as they move up to later releases of AIX.


About Jay Kruemcke

Jay Kruemcke is passionate about helping customers and partners achieve their goals. Jay is a currently a Senior Product Manager at SUSE. Jay is responsible for the SUSE Linux for High-Performance Computing, Linux for Arm, and Linux for Power servers. Jay released the first commercially supported Linux distribution for Arm in 2016. Jay completely restructured SUSE’s HPC offerings in 2017 to add support for Arm systems, provide longer term support, and continue to enhance the HPC Module. The HPC Module provides support for open software such as slurm as part of the SUSE HPC subscription. Jay has built an extensive career in product management based on being a bridge between customers and engineering teams. He has extensive experience in many areas including product positioning, driving future product directions, using social media for client collaboration, and evangelizing the capabilities and future directions of enterprise products. Prior to joining SUSE, Jay had a long career at IBM including many roles in the Power and Cloud Engineering and Offering teams. In addition to his product management experience, Jay has held a variety of technology roles at including product marketing, manager of a technical architecture team, briefing center staff, SAP systems management consultant, and as a system programmer and administrator Jay also volunteers with the Boy Scouts in multiple roles and with ProductCamp Austin. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @mr_sles and @phastflyer
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