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A Perfect Fit

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July 08, 2020

IBM Power Systems and The Cloud: A Perfect Fit

POSTED July 7, 2020 BY Matt Pacheco

Today, many mission critical applications still run on legacy systems. An example is the IBM Power Systems, which debuted in the 1980s as the very popular AS/400 midrange server. Thirty-five years later, the Power Systems are still in use as high-performance work horses in industries such as healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and warehouse management, among others.  

At the same time, virtually all IT departments have cloud migration strategies—even those still wedded to their legacy AS/400 computers. Many have multicloud environments. The advantages of the cloud are well-known: on-demand pricing, scalability, cost savings, and access to technologies and expertise that smaller companies could not normally afford. Windows and Linux shops are reaping considerable benefits by moving their data and applications to a cloud environment.

Fortunately, Power Systems shops don’t have to abandon their Power9 infrastructure if they move to the cloud. In 2019, IBM released Power Systems Virtual Servers for IBM i and AIX. Cloud providers such as Data Storage Corporation (DSC), support the Power Systems virtual platform, making it possible for these legacy applications – many of which have been heavily customized over the years – to run in the cloud.

Why migrate IBM Power Systems apps to the cloud?

Moving your IBM applications and/or data have several significant advantages:

Distributed workforce

With so many employees working from home, it’s important to have a reliable way for them to access applications and data. One advantage of the cloud is its ability to provide application access for widely distributed and remote end users. By connecting to the cloud through a virtual private network (VPN) over the Internet, employees can work from any location, without requiring ethernet lines or other dedicated connections. For example, DSC’s ezHost service for IBM Power Systems provides public internet access with support for VPNs and other private network connections such as MPLS or metro Ethernet.

Disaster recovery

Using the cloud for data backup and disaster recovery can ensure that your IBM applications will never suffer extended downtime. Many cloud providers offer managed Disaster Recovery as a Service, so they manage and execute most of the backup and DR processes. There are typically several levels of disaster recovery to choose from, based on how quickly your system needs to be back up and on the amount of data you can afford to lose. Some systems, such as an ecommerce database or reservation ticketing system, can’t afford any downtime or any loss of data. Others might lose a day’s worth of data without repercussions.

Also read: A Crash Course in Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Planning

Technology refresh

The cloud also gives IBM Power Systems customers affordable access to the newest hardware--namely IBM’s Power9 processor-based servers designed for high performance applications such as machine learning. By using a cloud provider’s IBM infrastructure, you can avoid investing in your own hardware upgrades. You also avoid the work of procuring, maintaining, and upgrading all that hardware. Cloud customers also have access to new, innovative technologies. Many cloud services providers offer a range of technology services for developers, such as machine learning and analytics.

IBM and cloud expertise

Using cloud services frees in-house IT staff from hardware and software maintenance tasks, so they can focus on more important, strategic IT projects. In addition, cloud providers have employees with expertise in cloud migration, AIX and IBM i application development, and other technologies. Customers benefit from having access to this pool of subject matter experts and save on the cost of employing their own experts. It’s also an advantage in a market where fewer IT professionals have skills in AIX, IBM i, and other legacy platforms. Power Systems professionals are increasingly difficult to recruit.

Scalable pricing

The cloud uses subscription-based billing, so IT costs shift from capital expenses to operating expenses. That predictability makes budget planning easier. Cloud services are also priced on-demand, meaning a customer can decide to add more virtual servers or storage capacity if needed, and decrease them when demand is low. That’s especially attractive to businesses that experience seasonal fluctuation in IT usage, as well as application developers working on new programs. An engineer can spin up a new development and testing environment without purchasing any on-premise hardware or software, and then delete it when done.

Extend capacity

Even if you don’t plan to migrate your core IBM Power Systems applications to the cloud, you can still take advantage of it to extend your infrastructure to support new applications or use cases. The existing on-premise Power Systems environment can be connected to new cloud resources via IBM’s Cloud Direct network services or a third-party network service such as TierPoint’s Cloud Connect Express.

Providers can help get your IBM Power Systems to the cloud

There are multiple ways to take advantage of cloud services while retaining on-premise systems. A cloud services provider can help you plan your migration to the cloud. Look for providers with experience in IBM Power Systems and customers in your industry, so they’ll be familiar with your company’s needs. The best cloud service providers offer robust and redundant communications networks, resiliency and guaranteed uptime, scalable infrastructure, physical and operational security, and proof of compliance with government regulations. If you have employees or supply chain partners in different parts of the country, also look for providers with on-ramps to major public cloud providers.

Data Storage Corporation (DSC) is a provider specializing in IBM iSeries disaster recovery and helps organizations protect their data, minimize downtime and recover and restore data within their objectives. TierPoint is a leading provider of secure, connected data center and cloud solutions. Together, they provide a comprehensive solution for managing IBM iSeries migration, hosting and disaster recovery. Learn more about how you can protect your IBM iSeries environment and migrate to the cloud.

IT Strategy Workshop - when an important decision needs to be made about Cloud, Security, or Disaster Recovery. Learn more...

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