In case you thought AIX had a future

In case you thought IBM AIX had a future, IBM's legacy proprietary Unix, IBM apparently doesn't. The Register reported Friday that IBM has moved the entire AIX development group to IBM India, apparently their Bangalore office, and placing 80 US-based developers into "redeployment." That's a fairly craven way of replacing layoffs with musical chairs, requiring the displaced developers to either find a new position within the company (possibly relocating as well) within some unspecified period, or retire. About a third of IBM's global staff is on the Indian subcontinent. IBM didn't publicly announce this move and while it's undoubtedly good news for IBM India it seems bad news for AIX's prospects: the technologies IBM thinks are up and coming IBM tends to spend money on, and so an obvious cost-cutting move suggests IBM doesn't think AIX is one of those things.

We've got a long history with AIX here at Floodgap Orbiting HQ when I first worked with AIX 3.2.5 and 4.1 in my University employment and consulting days, and I've run personal installations of AIX as my primary personal server since 1998, first on an Apple Network Server 500 and now on a 8203-E4A POWER6 p520. AIX 3 and 4 were surprisingly compelling workstation and server OSes for the time, but AIX 5L was where it started to feel "legacy" and unloved, and IBM has always been tightfisted about APARs and other kinds of updates if you don't buy a support contract. Combine that with nonsense like Capacity on Demand, where my second CPU was locked out after a system planar update until IBM coughed up a new set of keys, and I've already concluded this will be my last AIX server. While the next one will almost certainly be OpenPOWER, I'll probably run FreeBSD instead.

And, well, IBM would rather you ran Linux anyway on Power hardware, and so would their subsidiary Red Hat. If you're still an AIX institutional customer and you're still paying the bills, you'll still get support (just as you would with IBM i, the other white meat), but newly migrating to AIX is increasingly more trouble than it's worth paying for. Apparently IBM thinks so too.


  1. I would like to see IBM start trying to get OpenPOWER out there and in more reasonable servers. Several years ago, when last I checked, Red Hat was selling POWER RHEL licenses/support for several hundred more dollars per year than x64 ( ) ($386 more expensive for PPCLE, that has to be a cruel joke). Looking at their page now ( ), PPCLE is $80 cheaper than x64, so, that's a start.

    I still want to see some OpenPOWER SBCs, and I'd love to see POWER from not IBM as well. Something that could be used in a more commodity PC environment would be nice. When people are complaining about $500 motherboards, what chance does a $2350 or it's little sibling $2000 motherboard have?
    Similarly, I can't convince anyone to buy a POWER or even more common AARCH64 servers when so many dirt cheap eBay Intel junk servers are so plentiful.

    Other than that, RIP AIX, ye always were expensive too.

    1. I mesn, hey, RED Semiconductor and libre-SOC are working specifically on that exact SBC. I'm mainly excited because SBCs can be modified into, e.g. Framework mainboards.

    2. Yes, quite excited about that. I hope it leads to a bunch of new hardware possibilities.

  2. Respectfully disagree that AIX's days are numbered. Moving anything to India is a cost play and not necessarily a statement on commitment. AIX is very mature with new features being evolutionary .... that is even too strong of a word as changes / new features are slowly added. This is one reason why there is binary compatibility as well as being incredibly reliable.

    Regarding Linux on Power (LoP) - I'd absolutely love to see more industry adoption of this OS on the platform. It isn't because IBM hasn't tried as it requires ISV's and customers to adopt it for workloads. A lot of IBM software such as DB2 run great with LoP. However, other workloads such as Oracle and Cache DB do not. One of the best workloads ideally suited for LoP is SAP HANA. Unless a client's HANA DB is small, you can host every landscape and VM on (significantly) fewer servers vs Linux on Intel (the only other choice for HANA). Another workload that is ideal for AIX is Oracle DB. I consistently architect and provide solutions to clients using 1/4 to 1/10th fewer cores to host their Oracle workloads. Factor in the Oracle licensing cost and the TCA & TCO can be HUGE. Even moving from an existing platform to AIX on Power will yield savings for all but the smallest Oracle environments.

    One value prop for IBM Power is the ability to run AIX, IBM i and Linux on the same platform concurrently regardless of its Endianness.

    I'll close by saying IBM has been moving a LOT of its development to 3rd party ISV's as well as overseas for the last 5 years or so. I'd prefer to see it all remain in the USA to benefit our workforce and economy but companies like IBM are constantly looking to drive cost out of doing business which includes R&D.

  3. This continues to take place in IBM and other software companies. If they don't properly cook the Golden Goose (read new tech, read further high margin sales), they have to cut costs elsewhere. IMNSHO, Golden Geese are becoming quite rare and border-lining on extinction though, which means IBM will have to either tighten the belt and take better care of their existing portfolio and live with smaller margins, or spin things off to say HCL and fade into oblivion.

  4. If AIX does fall by the wayside, that still leaves IBM i and PowerVM, which both are built for Big Endian, yes?
    It would be a shame to see POWER trending toward fixed-endian operation.


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