May 27, 2020
Timothy Prickett Morgan
All of us have been expecting the Technology Refreshes – that is IBM i 7.3 TR8 and IBM i 7.4 TR2 – to come out on May 15. And when that didn’t happen, a bunch of us started scratching our heads a bit. Thus far, as we go to press, Big Blue has not put out a formal statement to customers about what is going on, but a number of big IBM i customers received a notification from somewhere up the chain of command about the situation, while at the same time, unbeknownst to many, IBM i chief architect Steve Will put out a statement about the situation in his You and i blog at IBM Systems magazine Power Systems edition on May 19.
It goes without saying that it is a bit self-serving for a notice to customers to only come through the house trade magazine that IBM has always preferentially supported with no notification given directly to customers or to other members of the trade press like ourselves. IBM created the confusion with its own statements, leading customers to believe there would be a pair of formal Technology Refreshes as we have known them, and if it is changing its mind, then it should have done a far better job getting the word out.
And, because it was not a formal announcement letter to customers, even though customers were sent the content of Will’s column, because of copyright limitations, we cannot cite the full text of what Will said in his explanation. Which, again, is nonsense. IBM is actually forcing us to link to a competitor, which is – well, you know me well enough to know exactly what kind of New York City vernacular I am stringing together here. We don’t mind playing on a level playing field, but this is tilting it a bit too much.
In any event, the full text of Will’s explanatory statement as to why there will, in fact, not be Technology Refresh updates, as such, for IBM i 7.3 and IBM i 7.4. As you can see from that statement from Will, which you can read here.
The gist is that because the hardware enhancements – tape virtualization and network virtualization – did not require updates to the hardware, and IBM realized that it did not, in fact, need a formal TR PTF process to update the operating system with this new hardware function.
“So, there is no TR PTF Group for 7.4 TR2 (yet). Similarly, there’s no TR PTF Group for 7.3 TR 8,” explains Will in his blog. “But there may be at some point in the future! So, to prepare for that potential, we’ve shipped the TR PTFs for the next TR PTF Group levels. Clients should load and regression test the resave and/or the PTF Cum packages, which contain them. As usual, the TR PTF requires an IPL to apply, and it is a sometimes a required pre-req for subsequent PTFs. Therefore, we advise users to load the latest code levels soon.”
The lack of clear communication on this, and well ahead of the May 15 expected release date for the two Technology Refreshes, is disappointing. We know a bunch of third-party support organizations that help IBM i shops keep current who were wondering what the heck was going on, and there should have been a formal announcement letter on this – and well ahead of the expected Technology Refresh delivery date or at the very least on that expected date.
In the meantime, all of the functionality that IBM announced in April as part of Technology Refreshes was either available in April or will be available by June through updates to the various PTF groups for the IBM i supported releases, which our good friend Doug Bidwell keeps very close track of in the IBM i PTF Guide. And sometime in the second half of this year – exactly when is unclear, but October is traditional – there will be new TR PTF Group levels coming out of IBM. For real this time.