IBM releases a new operating system level about every two years, and version 7.2 came out in May 2014. In between operating system levels, IBM releases Technology Refreshes (TRs) to support new hardware features, as they did with live partition mobility back in IBM i 7.1. The roadmap for IBM i continues into 2026, according to Steve Will, Chief Scientist at IBM, which is great news for those of us on the platform!
HelpSystems recently hosted a webinar with Pete Massiello, president of iTech Solutions, on upgrading the IBM i operating system to 7.2. Pete shared a lot of good information and we wanted to recap some essential steps you need to keep in mind for your next operating system upgrade.
Plan the Upgrade
The order of the OS upgrade is always HMC, then FSP firmware, then IBM i and LIC (license internal code a.k.a. microcode).
If you’re going from V5R4 to 6.1 or 7.1, you must run the Analyze Object Conversion command (ANZOBJCVN) at least two months before your planned upgrade date.
Have the same business partner where you got your hardware order IBM i 6.1, 7.1, or 7.2 about six weeks before your planned upgrade date. Make sure you have all license keys for the operating system and third-party vendors, and be sure to ask whether your third-party vendors are ready for the level you are upgrading to. HelpSystems is ready!
Two weeks before the upgrade, you should order preventive service planning (PSP) information and PTFs. These are available online.
- V5R4: SF98540
- 6.1: SF98610
- 7.1: SF98710
- 7.2: SF98720
Finally, you are taking a big risk if you don’t back up ahead of time! Be sure you have enough save media available and set aside approximately six hours of dedicated time to back up the server before the upgrade starts.
Keep in mind that items you have been running for years like Twinax, Java, Domino, and WebSphere may not be supported or may need to be updated too, depending on your server. This matters a lot going forward. For more information on what is or is not support, we highly recommend watching the “How to Upgrade to IBM i 7.2?” recorded webinar.
Execute the Upgrade
At this point you should verify the license keys you have for your IBM i software. You can check this IBM’s Entitled Systems Support site, where you’ll be able to see all of your license keys and select the ones you want.
You also need to set up your image catalog so you can just have the system upgrade without having to shuffle DVDs. During this process, you’ll be asked to allocate enough space for the LIC, too. Any PTFs that are not permanently applied need to be applied at this time. You will not be allowed to upgrade with temporary PTFs.
Document any changes you have made to the operating system, including items like system values, print files, and physical files, which are stored in the operating system and might have been changed in the past. We recommend creating a CLP with any customization for this area and then running the CLP after the OS upgrade. You will be creating an image catalog (CRTIMGCLG) for the install and will build a list of what to upgrade and specify the order during this process.
Look to see if you have any commitment control objects before saving the entire system (Option 21). Once this is complete, you will power down the system (PWRDWNSYS) and point the process to your image catalog. During the IPL, the system will boot from the image catalog and install the upgrade without you loading any media—it’s all pre-staged—though you will see progress indicators.
Now is a good time for pizza and a beverage! Eventually, you’ll receive the successful install message indicating you are done with your operating system upgrade. Nice job! Don’t let the user on yet, though!
After the Upgrade
There is an option to verify the install. Be sure to check things like QSYSOPR for messages. Before you let anyone on, we recommend running the program that has your system values and other operating system changes documented.
The final step is to back up the operating system and save system data (Option 22).
Upgrading your IBM i operating system is no small task, but as with any computer you have to upgrade it eventually. Whether you’re upgrading IBM i, Windows, or any other operating system, it takes planning…and things can go wrong. That’s why we recommend you plan, then plan some more, and then do your backups.
Best of luck on your next operating system upgrade! For more specifics on upgrading IBM i, be sure to watch our recorded conversation with IBM i upgrade expert Pete Massiello.