Data Storage Spins Up an IBM i Cloud
January 8, 2013 Alex Woodie
You can add one more name to the growing list of companies providing cloud infrastructure services to IBM i shops. Aegis Technology Services, a joint venture between Data Storage Corp. and ABC Services, is gearing up to run production IBM i and Windows environments through the infrastructure as a service (IAAS) cloud model. The company is expected to be one of the first cloud service providers to run its business with the new IBM PureSystems machines.
Data Storage Corp. (DSC) is no stranger to the cloud, but the move into production cloud services is a sizable one. The company got its start with the cloud business model when it bought SafeData back in May 2010. SafeData had one foot in the cloud with its online backup and hosted HA business with a strong focus on IBM i shops. The company’s cloud aspirations grew in June 2011 when DSC launched SafeData Cloud, a production cloud offering for IBM i and Windows.
According to Peter Briggs, the SafeData founder who will run the new Aegis operation, DSC landed a handful of companies for SafeData Cloud during the past 18 months. But like many executives of midrange resellers and consultancies, Briggs recognized that the potential for growth in the cloud business is exceptionally large. With this in mind, DSC worked with its IBM business partner ABC Services to found a new company with a singular cloud focus.
Briggs gave IT Jungle the low down on DSC’s high aspirations for cloud computing. “We met with IBM and explained to them what we were thinking about,” Briggs says. “They talked to us in terms of where they thought the market was going. They said that up to one half of the SMB [small and midsize business] customers who use the i–probably Windows as well–would be moving to managed cloud over the next five years.
“That seemed like a big number to me. However, it certainly got my attention,” Briggs continued. “We thought, ‘Gee, we ought to move quickly into expanding our ability to service that need.’ So we looked at our technology options. We had a fairly extensive footprint in two data centers running Power 6 and Power 7 servers. We came to a place where we decided to form a joint-venture arrangement, a new entity called Aegis Technology Services that I’ll be heading up.”
Aegis Technology Services is jointly owned by ABC Services and DSC, and replaces SafeData Cloud. “We have a handful doing production workloads now, but we think we can really blow this up and have customer accounts in the hundreds with this business plan,” Briggs says.
ABC Services is a premiere business partner with IBM that resells servers and provides IT services in the New York City area. The company has been DSC’s primary business partner and has helped it to outfit its two SAS70 Type II data center locations–in Westbury, New York, and Waltham, Massachusetts–with IBM i and Intel gear to run the SafeData Cloud, as well as the SafeData HA and SafeData DR hosted offerings. ABC Services has also provided DSC with expertise in the areas of IBM i LPAR and VMware ESC Server setup.
Aegis will be staffed with IT experts from both DSC and ABC Services. The focus will be on a new IBM Pure Systems machine that the companies purchased in late 2012. That server, which will live at the Waltham data center near Boston, is a “sizable” machine that will serve IBM i, Windows, and AIX customers, Briggs says.
“It’s very interesting from an MSP point of view,” Briggs says. “To be able to provision capacity for a client with a couple of clicks of the mouse in the i world is exciting to think about. It will allow these clients to buy what they need, not what they are planning to use over the next three to five years. And that’s all co-existing with VMware and leveraging the same storage.”
Aegis will provide the server platforms to customers, and provide all the care and feeding of the server platforms (install PTFs, run backups, etc.), as well as 24/7 monitoring. It will be the customers’ responsibility to manage their applications. If customers want additional vaulting, DR, or HA capabilities, they can get that through SafeData HA or SafeData DR solutions. Since they’re owned (or co-owned) by DSC, customers will be able to manage their Aegis and SafeData activities with a single account.
Aegis will also offer SafeData HA, IBM’s hardware-based high availability solution for IBM i. This is a new offering for the folks at Aegis, who have the most experience with Vision Solutions‘ MIMIX, and are just starting to get into Maxava; ABC Services has certifications in PowerHA, and has implemented it for customers.
Aegis isn’t going to push customers hard to adopt PowerHA. “We’re not going to jump into it,” Briggs says. “I think it’s more of a local [HA] solution. There are questions about how to handle PowerHA over a wide area network, and the cost and so forth. It needs bandwidth. To really leverage PowerHA, you have to have their production workload as well. For the right client, we will offer PowerHA on demand as a service.”
At first, Aegis won’t be aligned with any software vendors in particular, and will provide the hardware to run any IBM i production application or ERP system that customers want. In the future, however, Aegis may partner with particular ISVs.
“Clearly the ISVs are moving to SaaS or cloud. Some are going to build it, and some are going to want help. We’re finding that a lot of ISVs don’t want to be hosting businesses. They’d rather support their applications,” Briggs says. “We’ll probably align ourselves with a couple of ISVs who I already know are interested in bringing their software into a cloud model, and they’d rather partner with somebody who can put the infrastructure in place.”