Your mainframe keeps critical data safe and processing even in times of crisis. Therefore, you need to have a plan in place for when your mainframe peripherals become EOL and are no longer supported by IBM.

IBM is one of the only companies still making high-powered mainframes, so it is likely that you have landed on this page because you have an IBM mainframe and want to prepare for the end-of-life (EOL) and end-of-support-line (EOSL) stage in your mainframe attached peripherals lifecycle.

IBM no longer provides support or on-site repairs once products are EOL, so you must turn to a third-party service provider.

Here’s what you need to know about the end-of-life transition for your IBM mainframe peripherals

IBM Mainframe Peripherals and Their Lifecycle

As one of the only companies producing mainframes, IBM has proven that their product is future-proof while remaining reliable for big data and enterprise demands.

The IBM Z platform is the primary enterprise mainframe platform. This mainframe is built for hybrid processing, cryptographic cards, and its innovative software allows extremely high volumes of transactions daily. IBM mainframes continue to power so much of the world’s critical infrastructure. From military processing to large-scale banking data, many industries rely on the mainframe for security, resiliency, and privacy.

The IBM Z family maintains backward compatibility (all the way to the zSeries family). Unfortunately, like so many electronic products, mainframes do cycle out of use. While regular hardware and software upgrades will keep it functioning for decades (software is usually supported on machines up to three generations old), there comes a critical point when IBM no longer provides these updates or does maintenance. Alternatively, peripheral devices do need to be maintained and upgraded and in many cases, third party hardware companies (like Visara) can be much more cost-effective than IBM OEM peripherals, such as storage.

How Do I Know When my IBM Mainframe Peripherals Reach End-of-Life?

Staying on top of these updates is actually fairly simple: third-party vendors can keep you up to date with relevant EOL products as this can be time-consuming and hard to keep up with. If you’re up for it, you can also subscribe to IBM’s EOL or EOSL policy or by searching for your product.

To give you an idea of how to prepare for your end of life products, here is one way that you should approach it:

  1. Create a list of your mainframe peripherals and keep it stored in an excel sheet. Be sure to put the dates of EOL per product if they have been announced. Once you go to a third-party provider, you can easily share this list with them so that they know all of the parts that need to be replaced.
  2. Search for your peripherals using their titles, version numbers, product identifiers (PIDS), and other search data. Most support dates land on April 30th and September 30th (with some exceptions). We recommend cross-referencing with your list of mainframe parts in item number one.
  3. Plan regular upgrades. Work with your information technologists or third-parties to track the software support lifecycle to estimate upgrades, repairs, or replacement peripherals regularly.
  4. Companies can get alerts from IBM or their third-party vendor to stay informed on critical updates.
  5. Once an EOL/EOSL is announced for your peripherals, start a plan of action. Connect with a third-party vendor now if you haven’t already.

Your entire mainframe or peripherals won’t become obsolete overnight. Usually, IBM releases specific product upgrades slowly over time. If you keep pace with these upgrades, you can bring on a third-party service provider early to transition your maintenance schedule (before EOL occurs) and continue to provide peripherals that IBM no longer supplies.  Adding hardware from a third-party, such as Visara, can allow for expansion and future-proofing while letting you keep your actual mainframe.

Sourcing EOL or EOSL IBM Peripherals

When your core mainframe peripherals (Virtual or real tape and DASD) reaches end of life, there are a variety of options still available.

You can manage EOL a few different ways:

  • Stay up to date with peripheral upgrades as advised by IBM or a vendor.
  • Start purchasing older peripherals from a third-party (as a cost-effective option) so that you don’t have a hard time upgrading or updating products after the product is EOL/EOSL (this option is not recommended!)
  • Lean on a third-party manufacturer like Visara, who has deployed over 2.5mm mainframe peripherals for IBM equipment.

Your peripherals need updates, maintenance, and occasional replacement. IBM is expensive and if your peripherals are EOL, you need to consider something. If the IBM support stops for your peripherals, you can still source replacement peripherals  from trusted vendors like Visara.

If you buy your peripherals from IBM, you are actually paying too much for these products. Additionally, you’ll eventually need to transition to a peripherals provider at a certain point unless you plan to buy an entire new system.  Luckily, you aren’t forced to buy your peripherals from IBM. Purchasing from a peripherals provider is a much better solution because you have more control over your migration, cost, and security.

Why You Should Partner With an IBM Peripherals Provider

Don’t feel obligated to upgrade your system with IBM or simply because they are relinquishing support. The good news is that third-party providers like Visara have been around for 35 years and will continue to provide compatible peripherals for your mainframes running long after IBM support has ended.

Visara has plug compatible products, which means that the mainframe thinks the systems are IBM devices. This minimizes the risk of incompatible peripherals, downtime, and faulty processing. If you’re operating military applications, the integration of peripherals that aren’t plug compatible could compromise national security.

We know that your mainframes are a critical data repository that you (and millions of people) rely on for data processing. These mainframes keep your workstations or terminals functioning, and you need to rely on the big iron in times of crisis.

Trust Visara’s peripherals and IT design to keep your mainframe functioning at its best.

A guide for your journey. Most senior leaders in the enterprise are looking for rock-solid performance, while mitigating risk for their enterprise-class systems. They struggle with end-of-life on their IBM mainframe peripherals with a looming end-of-lease deadline. 

At Visara, we’ve been there, and have seen these challenges for over 40 years.  We’ve serviced organizations from the Fortune 100 on down.

We have a simple 3-step “ABC” approach, to Assess the upcoming mainframe related problem, Build a future-proof solution to maintain IBM at the core, and Control the cost for a same-or-better implementation.  

Simple, cost-effective mainframe peripheral solutions.