IBM to Stop OS/390 Sales

Offers 'bimodal migration' support for move to z/OS

Mainframe users still stuck on IBM's previous-generation OS/390 operating system now have a compelling reason to switch to the current z/OS: IBM will stop new sales of the OS/390 Dec 17.

After that date, customers will no longer be able to order the OS/390, said Pete McCaffrey, an IBM director. The company will continue to support the 31-bit operating system at least through September 2004, he added.

IBM's announcement comes roughly 18 months after it started shipping the 64-bit z/OS along with its zSeries mainframes in March 2001.

The move should come as no surprise to users, McCaffrey said. "We've told customers all along that this is what we will be doing. All we did now was to essentially remind them that time was running out," he added.

To ease the migration from a 31-bit environment to a 64-bit one, IBM is offering OS/390 customers a "bimodal migration program."

Under the program, users who move to z/OS on a zSeries machine can run the operating system in 31-bit mode for six months before being required to operate it in full 64-bit mode.

The program reverses an IBM policy that mandated that users run z/OS only in full 64-bit mode on zSeries mainframes. Currently, the OS/390 can run on zSeries hardware in 31-bit mode.

Going forward, IBM will also introduce new releases of its mainframe operating systems only once a year instead of twice annually, as is the current practice, McCaffrey said. The change is being made because mainframe users have typically tended to upgrade their operating systems on 12- to 18-month cycles, he said.

Mike Kahn, an analyst at The Clipper Group Inc. in Wellesley, Mass., said the move is probably also the result of IBM trying to improve quality and cut the costs involved in refreshing its mainframe operating systems.

"It costs IBM a lot of money to introduce new features and qualify each new release," he explained.


IBM's Bimodal z/OS:

Lets users return to 31-bit mode if there are problems in migrating to 64-bit operations.

Available for a six-month period on each z/Architecture server beginning when z/OS is licensed to the server.

Doesn't extend support to those functions previously announced as requiring 64-bit zSeries hardware.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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