Last updated February 2020
Thousands of companies trust their mission-critical workloads to the IBM Power Systems platform. But what happens when these organizations want to move to the cloud? Do they need to give up their IBM i or IBM AIX infrastructure or other IBM i solutions? In this post, we’ll share a few answers from Connectria’s VP of Solutions Architecture for IBM, Dave Wiseman.
What drives IBM i shops to look to Connectria to help them support their IBM i systems? Is it different than the factors that drive companies using other platforms?
Dave: I think there’s a lot of overlap. For example, many of the customers I work with are looking to replace CapEx with OpEx. Moving to a cloud can help them do that. I suppose that’s something users of other platforms are looking to do as well, but perhaps it’s more important for IBM i customers. These are usually fairly sizable businesses, so they’re typically carrying a pretty hefty budget for IT equipment and maintenance fees.
But I do think there are some drivers that are unique to the IBM i customer. These midlevel and larger businesses engage in a lot of M&A activity, and we get a lot of calls from IT administrators who are now in charge of an unfamiliar infrastructure. Even if they have IBM i administrators already, these folks may not be located where they need them to be, and they’re looking for help managing remote locations.
The other big issue we see is with companies that are having a hard time filling their open IBM i system administrator positions. If you go on sites like Indeed.com or Glassdoor, you’ll find hundreds of open positions. The problem is that colleges and universities no longer include the IBM Power Systems platform in their curriculum, so you don’t have that steady influx of new talent.
Of course, the talent that is on the market is rapidly reaching retirement age, too. I actually think, as hard as it can be to fill these roles now, it’s only going to get more difficult.
Should organizations be thinking about moving away from the IBM Power Systems platform?
Dave: Not at all. But what they are going to have to do is think about their IT staffing needs a bit differently. Instead of hiring full-time talent in-house, they can outsource some of the day-to-day management of their systems.
I haven’t seen official research to back me up on this, but I get the sense that companies using IBM i systems might be a little behind the curve on recognizing the benefits of outsourcing. These organizations typically use IBM Power Systems for their mission-critical applications, and their approach to IT systems tends to be very traditional. Outsourcing can make them feel like they’re giving up control, but it doesn’t need to be that way. A good managed service provider will always work with you to fill the gaps in your in-house skill sets. They aren’t there to take over your systems.
What about those companies that want to move to the cloud? Do they need to move away from IBM i?
One of our core offerings for IBM i and AIX is remote monitoring and management. That’s where our IBM system engineers monitor and manage your systems remotely. Your infrastructure still resides in your data center, and you still own the equipment.
But let’s say you’re tired of paying the overhead that comes along with maintaining an on-premises data center and the high cost of owning equipment, so you start looking for a cloud solution. That doesn’t mean you need to give up the IBM i platform that’s served you so well over the years. We can host your workloads on dedicated IBM i infrastructure in one of our SOC-certified data centers.
This is really a good solution for those organizations that want to move to the cloud but have a legacy application architected specifically for IBM i or AIX.
What should companies using the IBM i or IBM AIX infrastructure be looking for in a strategic partner?
Vetting potential vendors for IBM i or IBM AIX is much like vetting managed service providers for any other platform. You look for experience with that platform as well as with any other specific requirements such as compliance.
The aspect that makes it challenging with IBM Power Systems is that we’re a much smaller bunch. I mean, you can pick up experience with platforms like AWS or Azure pretty quickly because so many people are using it. Post a job opening and chances are good you’ll have dozens of young, eager candidates within twenty-four hours.
IBM i and AIX are a lot more complex, and as I mentioned earlier, an experienced talent for these platforms is harder to find. You should be extra diligent about looking for case studies written around IBM managed systems.
The other thing you should be wary of is vendors who offshore their support for IBM i systems. As a managed service provider, offshoring isn’t a bad idea. It opens up your pool of potential talent. But if you’re the one whose systems are being managed, having your systems managed by a team from another country may not be a viable option. It can introduce security risks and violate compliance regulations. That’s one of the reasons our IBM i and AIX support engineers are all based in offices here in the US.
Contact Connectria for more information. Want to learn more about working with Connectria to manage your IBM i or IBM AIX infrastructure? Download our white paper: Extending the Life of Your IBM i Systems.