Infor announced the end of life for its 9.1 Release of XA on June 30, 2020. What this means is that Infor Support will still try to help Customers if they have a problem, but no new fixes for that problem will be implemented at the 9.1 level. Many Customers are currently still on some level of 9.1 and must now contemplate what to do.
XA Upgrade Monetary Costs
Everyone knows that XA Upgrades are costly, but not upgrading can be costly as well. It reminds me of the different ways people think about their cars. Some people want to buy or lease a new car every couple of years to have the ‘latest and greatest’ and keep maintenance costs down, while others would prefer to keep their car for many years and just get it fixed when there is a problem. It’s the old saw of ‘pay me now or pay me later’ that we all struggle with. In the world of XA, there are a lot of costs to staying on a Release for too long.
The Cost of Updating PTFs
One good example of this are PTFs that are issued to fix important problems. As an example, let me tell you about the Workstation ID PTF (SH66687). As it turns out, there was a change in the i7.3 Operating System that caused a problem with the logic in a number of XA programs. The most common symptom resulting from this is that for some Customers, after moving to i7.3, they will enter Transactions and then not be able to maintain them. This is because that i7.3 change interacted with faulty program logic to cause the Workstation ID designation to become corrupted. Because the Workstation ID is a field that is part of the Transaction Key, once it’s corrupted, the Key is also corrupted, and the Transaction cannot be accessed again.
If you have an XA Environment at PCM 4237, which was the last PCM released for 9.1, and you have this problem, you will want to put on the PTF that fixes the problem. However, first you will have to put on 23 pre-requisite PTFs. Ouch! There’s a lot of work involved in determining the proper pre-requisite PTF chain. If your XA Environment is at the lowest level of 9.2 (PCM 20079), guess how many pre-requisite PTFs you need to apply? Just one. See the huge difference in effort?
The Cost of OS Compatibility
Another problem that might come up if you don’t keep somewhat current with XA is compatibility issues with your Operating System. Each version of XA is only compatible with certain versions of the Operating System. As an example, XA Release 7.8 was compatible with OS V5R4 through i7.2. So, If you stay on an older Release of XA but continue to update your Operating System, you might run into a compatibility issue at some point.
Some may argue that you could just stop updating the OS in order to stay compatible, but Infor ends support on each OS level at a given point in time. For example, they stopped supporting i7.1 on April 30, 2019. The upshot of this is that any new PTF that was published after that time was compiled over i7.2. If you needed an i7.1 version of the PTF, you were out of luck. I know, because I had a Customer that had this problem right after i7.1 support was discontinued. I tried to get Infor Support to make an exception and provide the PTF objects at i7.1, but they either wouldn’t or couldn’t.
The Cost of PTFs That Are Unavailable
Another issue that can come up is that a PTF comes out to fix a problem you have at 9.1, but the PTF is only issued for 9.2. Take a look at SH67826, which is an IFM PTF. This was only issued for 9.2. If you needed this correction at 9.1, you would just be out of luck. Now that 9.1 support has been discontinued, there will definitely not be any new PTFs issued to fix problems at that level.
The Cost of Missing Functionality
Now let’s look at the more obvious costs of staying on an older Release like 9.1. New PTFs are being released every day. The initial release of 9.2 had a ton of new functionality. When new PCMs come out, they include all PTFs released up to the new PCM level for all XA Applications. That means that by putting on a new PCM, you’ve automatically gained the enhancements from hundreds, if not thousands, of PTFs that were issued since the last PCM level, in addition to all of the new functionality included in the new PCM. At this point, there have been two Service Packs, as well as one PTF Cumulative, that has been released since PCM 20079, the base level of 9.2. The next Service Pack to come out, 9.2.2, has a planned Release Date of August 31, 2020. If your XA Environments are still at 9.1, you are missing out on a lot of enhancements that could be making life easier for you and your users.
In addition to all of those individual enhancements you’re missing out on, you will also be unable to use the new XA products that have been, or will soon be, delivered, such as Enterprise Financials and the new Enterprise Planning Applications (Material Planning, Visual Planner, and Thru-put). Did you know that Infor is steering all Customers to convert to Enterprise Financials, as the older financial packages will be discontinued after future Release 9.3? The same holds true for PDM and PDM+. These will be discontinued after 9.3, so all Customers will need to convert to EPDM before they can move to subsequent Releases. Actually, Infor has stated that 9.2.2 will be a pre-requisite PCM Level for lots of things.
So, to sum up, if you take too long to upgrade your XA Environments, you are opening your System up to potential difficulties and setting your Company up for many opportunity costs with XA. Hopefully, this article gave you some food for thought, so that you can make the best possible decision with regards to your current XA installation.
Senior Programmer/Analyst with Information Systems Engineering, Inc.