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Mainframe Solutions

ESCON to FICON Migration-the time is now (and this time its for real!)

by Dr.Steve.Guendert on ‎05-12-2010 05:59 AM (2,487 Views)

OK, yes I know.  The title for my post sounds like a sequel for a “B” movie.   Well, in a way it is kind of a sequel.  Allow me to explain.


Let’s take a brief trip down (mainframe I/O) memory lane.  Its early 2004 and IBM has announced the end of sale/marketing for the 9032-5 ESCON director.  It generates lots of excitement.  ESCON to FICON migration is the topic of many presentations in 2004-2005 at industry conferences such as SHARE, CMG, IBM Storage Symposium, and the IBM zExpo.  It also is the topic of whitepapers and articles in industry publications such as zJournal.  New technology from Opticatech (Prizm) emerged that converted FICON to ESCON without the need for a 9032-5.  IBM and other vendors start having discussions with customers about moving to FICON, with the 9032-5 announcement helping start the conversation.  You see, five years from the end of sale/marketing date is usually the end of support/maintenance (in this case it was supposed to be December 31, 2009 if past was prologue).  End users on ESCON did not want to wait until then did they?  They needed to move sooner rather than later.  Right?


Well, no and no.  According to a zJournal Spring 2008 survey of Fortune 1000 companies, 42% still had a significant ESCON install base.  In early 2009 IBM stated that on the new System z10 mainframes leaving the production plant, just over 50% of the installed channels were ESCON.  In the largest ESCON market (Japan), the 20 largest mainframe customers still had over 50,000 installed 9032-5 ESCON ports to go along with a very large ESCON channel extension install base.  To steal a phrase from Mark Twain, the rumors of ESCON’s demise were greatly exaggerated (especially in Japan).


Fast forward to April 2009.  The System z10 has been on the market for just over a year.  On April 28, 2009 IBM announced the following as a “Statement of General Direction”:  “ESCON channels will be phased out.  It is IBM’s intent for ESCON channels to be phased out.  System z10 EC and System z10BC will be the last servers to support greater than 240 ESCON channels.”  In July 2009, IBM announced FICON Express 8 for System z10.  In August 2009 IBM announced z/OS V1.11, which contained the general availability of FICON Dynamic Channel Path Management (DCM).  In late 2009 and early 2010,  DASD vendors made announcements for the general availability of DASD arrays with 8 Gbps FICON connectivity.

But no announcement on end of support/maintenance for the 9032-5.


Or wait, was there somewhere?  Out there?


Yes!  It turns out that in fall 2009, IBM Japan announced end of support for the 9032-3 and 9032-5 ESCON directors, the 9034-1 ESCON converter, and the 9037-2 Sysplex timer.  It just was not publicized outside of Japan.  The link to the announcement on the IBM Japan website is below.  (Note: you will need to have Google toolbar to translate the page).,%5BAnntType%5D=StpHWMent,ESCON


IBM has also announced the end of sale of the System z9, effective June 30, 2010.  I have no definitive knowledge I can share, but it is widely anticipated that around this timeframe, the next mainframe will be announced (z11 perhaps?).


Brocade is ready to lead the transition from ESCON to FICON.  We have a brand new educational workshop for customers and partners on Mainframe Managed Infrastructure evolution.  Contact me at if interested in scheduling one. We are publishing some new and some updated whitepapers and technical briefs on ESCON to FICON migration.


Updating mainframe infrastructure has typically required a compelling event for customers-such as purchasing a new mainframe platform.  Well, assuming IBM announces a new mainframe, they likely will be selling them to customers so there is a compelling event.  In Japan, the ESCON end of support/maintenance announcement is another compelling event.


So, the time is now for planning ESCON to FICON migrations (especially in Japan!),  And, this time its for real!


Steve Guendert