Quite literally out of the blue, IBM have further invigorated support for their 10-year-old operating system by allowing the OS to run on its latest architecture, the Power9 – a processor type that it was never supported on.
IBM i 7.1 was originally launched on April 13th 2010 and is the longest supported release of any IBM i midrange platform in the family history since the birth of AS/400. In October 2020, IBM announced that 7.1 will enjoy a support extension of two years, but even with this, this still limited the platform to incumbent servers and there wasn’t even the hint that Power9 would or even could be supported in the future.
This is great news for IBM i shop of whom were limited on potential server upgrades, but it does come with some caveats. First, upgrades are limited to a select few options – Power9 servers with the designations 9009-22A & 22G. Next, there are some I/O restrictions which may have implications depending upon configuration. Also, you will have to purchase your new box with 7.3 or 7.4 and you will have to be on software maintenance too. Only with these, on a qualifying server, will you be allowed to download your 7.1 keys. Even then, you may find your service fees double as you will also have to pay for the 7.1 service extension.
All being said, IBM have done the business in providing an upgrade path to their latest technology. This is great news for businesses running on legacy IBM i.
For further reading please see the official IBM i release notes and the excellent article in IT Jungle.