IBM issued a monster product withdrawal announcement earlier this week. For the record, I’m personally not fond of how IBM announces product withdrawals. Yes, IBM typically includes a “Replacement program information” section in such announcements. However, unless the new product is a literal, exact replacement, such as a new release (and sometimes not even then), IBM will often write “No replacement.” Probably because it’s easy for the copy editor to write that, and solution architects (for example) aren’t often the ones involved in drafting these withdrawal announcements. That’s frustrating. In my view, IBM should write “No exact replacement” and, better yet, provide some more useful, solution-oriented guidance about replacement options.

Let’s look at an example or two from this particular withdrawal announcement. One of the “No replacement” products listed is Cognos Business Intelligence for z/OS (5655-Y26). Fortunately there’s no emergency. IBM standard support for that product will be available until April 30, 2018, and extended support will be available to purchase thereafter (presumably). Oddly enough, that product won’t even be withdrawn from marketing until April 30, 2018. But of course there is a superb, mainframe-hosted replacement product: Cognos Business Intelligence for Linux on z Systems. Query Management Facility (QMF) for z/OS is another potential replacement, and so is IBM Cognos Analytics on Cloud. Or some combination. “Talk to your friendly IBM representative,” but no rush.

Another example is IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack for z Systems. “No replacement.” Actually, no, there are quite a few replacement options for ICMO. Upgrading to IBM Cloud Orchestrator is one possibility. z/VM’s Cloud Manager Appliance (CMA), a no additional charge z/VM feature, is another. Again, no emergency. IBM won’t discontinue ICMO’s standard support until April 30, 2020.

How about ACF/NCP and ACF/SSP? These are classic (some would say “ancient”) networking products for SNA and even pre-SNA network topologies. Their withdrawal should not be a surprise. These products were used in conjunction with the IBM 3745 and 3746 Communications Controllers and their predecessors. “No replacement.” No, there really are replacements. The most common replacement is probably Enterprise Extender (EE), a feature within Communications Server for z/OS, a no additional charge, base component of the z/OS operating system. IBM published a helpful migration guide about 7 years ago, and Chapter 19 discusses EE. Oddly enough, none of the co-requisite products that ACF/NCP and ACF/SSP support (IBM 3745, IBM 3746, IBM Communications Controller for Linux) are still supported. (CCL was the last remaining holdout, but standard support for that product ended on March 31, 2016.) That’s probably why the end of standard service date for ACF/NCP and ACF/SSP is August 31, 2016. If I had to guess, it looks like somebody at IBM forgot to withdraw support for ACF/NCP and ACF/SSP at the same time support ended for CCL. Well, now that’s fixed.

Anyway, don’t panic if you see “No replacement” in an IBM product withdrawal announcement. Simply discuss your migration and upgrade options with “your friendly IBM representative,” and strike a mutually agreeable deal (technical and financial). There are almost always excellent replacement options, often plural, even if IBM doesn’t initially, explicitly tell you what they are in the official product withdrawal announcements.

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