IBM denies suggestion that AIX being deprioritized

IBM says its roadmap for AIX development and new features runs through 2030, countering a published commentary.

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IBM disputes a report that it has deemphasized development of its Unix-based AIX operating system by moving development to India and said that it remains committed to the venerable OS.

Commentary in The Register said AIX development had been transferred to India with a sub-headline not to expect "any more big AIX news." IBM’s response is that there has always been AIX development in India, and U.S.-based talent remains at work on the Power platform, which runs AIX.

“For this transition, every single person that was on my US team on the day that we announced this was mapped to a new role where we needed them to help us next,” said Mark Figley, vice president of IBM Power development. 

“When we talk about increasing the team in India, none of the resources in the US are going away. They’re still working for Power. That’s a net increase in expense, right? This is not a case of we’re moving to India to save money. We decided to consolidate the development in India for a lot of collaboration reasons,” he added.

AIX is the last remaining operating system based on the Bell Labs Unix System V Release 4. Other major Unix players—Solaris from Sun Microsystems, HP-UX from Hewlett-Packard, and IRIX from SGI—are all dead. AIX is run on IBM’s RISC-based Power platform.

Steve Sibley, vice president of IBM Power product management, said there will be a new version of AIX 7.3 this fall and referred to the IBM’s AIX roadmap that stretches through 2030.

“We will continue to deliver annual releases of AIX,” he said. “We’ll continue to drive enhancements. None of the resource optimization actions that we took have affected our roadmap or any of the people that were associated with it.”

IBM spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat Linux in 2019, and Linux has all the momentum these days. There is a version of Red Hat for the Power architecture, but AIX is used in “mission critical workloads where they measure downtime for those workloads in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of impact per minute,” Sibley said.

He said he’s seen customers moving workloads from Linux on other platforms to AIX and longtime AIX customers embracing Linux.

“There’s obviously a set of advantages that Linux has as well, certainly from an ecosystem perspective. So both are important to the Power platform. And we’re committed to both going forward," he said.

IBM said it plans to make Power-related announcements in the coming weeks. Work on AIX includes more features for the live kernel-update function, which allows for kernel-level patching without having to take the system down in addition to improving reliability and availability.

Figley said AIX “has got 35 years of investment behind it already. So you don’t have to add a lot of new capabilities to it other than in the user space and how we adapt to new environments and new development models.”

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