AIX Service Provider Starts Up An IBM i Practice
February 4, 2013 Alex Woodie
For 17 years, Evolving Solutions has met the AIX and System x needs of its customers in the Upper Midwest. Many of its customers also ran IBM i gear, but Evolving didn’t have the expertise to help them. However, with the recent hire of a former IBMer out of the Rochester, Minnesota, lab, Evolving has seen the light and begun an IBM i practice.
Evolving Solutions is a full service IT provider based in Hamel, Minnesota, that caters to the needs of mid-size and large companies ($500 million to $5 billion) in the five-state region. Areas of expertise include high availability, virtualization, capacity planning, storage networking, documentation, data center design, project management, and custom development. Historically, the company has focused on the RS/6000, System p, and AIX-based Power Systems line of servers from IBM, as well as surrounding X86 gear and storage.
“One of the things we’ve been missing over the years, or been unable to fulfill within our customer base, are those pockets of i OS or iSeries needs that they had,” says Jaime Gmach, the CEO and founder of Evolving Solutions. “We’ve always provided them with AIX boxes and all the services around them; all the storage and x86. And we’ve just had this gap with IBM i. They weren’t necessarily big iSeries shops, but they looked to us as their trusted adviser. We would help them out [with IBM i] once in a while, but by and large, we didn’t really pursue that, and time and time again, it left a gap there for customers that we considered really core to our success.”
That IBM i gap began closing last year when Evolving hired Tim Klubertanz to be a solution architect and work in pre-sales. Klubertanz is a 14-year IBM veteran who most recently worked in Technology Lab Services in Rochester, Minnesota, where he helped large clients with their PowerHA and storage needs on IBM i and AIX platforms.
“My role is to be a Power Systems architect for AIX and IBM i, and certainly I’ll be able to help grow our IBM i business,” Klubertanz says. “They’re very good at a lot of the Power Systems stuff they have been doing. They have a number of customers who have iSeries. But they’re haven’t been selling the i stuff because they didn’t feel they had the skill to sell it. They want to make sure they can round out their offerings and provide end-to-end Power and storage solutions.”
Klubertanz won’t be the only person at Evolving with IBM i skills. According to Gmach, other technicians and architects at the firm, which has about 70 employees, will be cross-trained in IBM i technology, particularly in areas such as storage and high availability where the technology is at least similar. It is also likely that Evolving will look for new hires with IBM i skills on their resume.
Gmach says he based his decision to begin offering IBM i services on what he calls the stabilizing of the IBM i installed base. “We saw an opportunity where the iSeries business had been shrinking for several years, and I kind of look at it now as having stabilized,” he says. “It’s similar to what happened to System z six or seven years ago, where everybody predicted the demise [of the mainframe], but in reality it was still a very viable platform. There were customers on it for a reason. It has a stable OS, stable environment, they had people trained on it, they really liked it, and it just didn’t go down, so there was no reason to get off it.”
Now that the less committed organizations have migrated off the IBM i platform, it leaves a more loyal core group of customers, Gmach says. “We saw people moving off it in what I call niche applications–counties, cities, customers in the building and trades industry. Those customers, in many cases, migrated to an X86 environment,” Gmach says. “iSeries customers have a cult-like mentality, in a good way. We don’t sell Oracle Solaris. But I equate it to a lot of the Solaris folks back in the day. They’re just on it. It provides a stable operating environment.”
Evolving Solutions has all the certifications and credentials to begin selling and servicing IBM i shops. It is also certified and trained in IBM cloud and PureSystems offerings. For more information, see the company’s website at www.evolvingsol.com.