Deconstructing IBM i Cloud Migration Myths
November 12, 2013 Alex Woodie
If you’re an IBM i professional, there’s a good chance you’ve considered what a private cloud means to your organization. After all, if you could save $250,000 per year in support costs without giving up anything that’s critical to your organization, it would behoove you to explore the options and do the math. Unfortunately, separating the myths from the reality of cloud hosting isn’t always easy, as one IBM i private cloud provider, Abacus, recently showed.
In a recent blog post titled “6 Myths about Migrating the IBM i to the Cloud,”, Patrick Schutz, director of managed services for Abacus, laid out some of the biggest misconceptions about what it means to move an IBM i workload into a private cloud environment, such as the one that Abacus provides.
Schutz destroyed the first myth–that an IBM i cloud deployment is more expensive than an on-premise deployment–with common sense. Sure, if you haven’t invested any time or effort into your IBM i environment lately, or are running old versions of i5/OS, then getting it ready to run in a standardized cloud environment won’t be cheap. After all, you can’t outsource your problem. But if your IBM i environment is shipshape and up to par, the costs won’t be that different.
The second myth–that you’ll lose your job–is a touchy subject. After all, some of that $250,000 in potential savings could contain your salary! Schutz doesn’t deny that some operators who specialize in managing the hardware are going to lose their jobs. But those IT professionals who become well-versed in the application side of things will be protected. “As with operators, IT directors who free themselves from running and managing the day-to-day infrastructure can concentrate on revenue-boosting activities to support core applications,” he writes.
Debunking the third myth–that Google or Amazon will take over your IBM i environment–was like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s true that Google and Amazon have huge public cloud hosting businesses. But it’s also true that, even in their wildest dreams, Larry Page or Jeff Bezos would never even think of running an IBM i cloud. “It’s a niche marketplace and part of the reason is that there is a shortage of iSeries specialists available to run the IBM i in the public and hybrid clouds,” Schutz writes.
Myth number four–that your IBM i environment won’t run in the cloud–is a little tougher to bust. If you’re running IBM i 6.1 or, even better, version 7.1, then it will be easier. “If you have a really old version that has not been updated, it is most likely not cost effective or possible to migrate to the cloud without going through the upgrade process first,” he writes.
There are some caveats to Abacus’ myth number five–that your environment is more exposed in the cloud than sitting on premise. Schutz argues that cloud storage solutions run by reputable vendors (as Abacus is) provide “far more stability and redundancy.” “Following best practices for the cloud is part of our core business,” he writes. When it comes to security, however, the cloud continues to be a source of concern, especially for larger organizations.
Schutz didn’t have to work very hard to dispel the sixth myth, that it’s easy to move off the IBM i, and that, therefore, it will be tempting to move entirely off the platform once one moves to the cloud. “If I had a nickel for every company I met that said they would be off the AS/400 within a few years, I’d be a rich man,” Schutz writes. In reality, the IBM i server is incredibly “sticky.” The combination of application modifications and continued reliability and stability provide a compelling incentive to stay on the box.
To read Schutz’s complete write-up on the myths and misconceptions of IBM i cloud environments, see www.abacusllc.com/About-Us/News-Media/Blog/post/6-myths-about-migrating-the-ibm-i-to-the-cloud.aspx#.Un6T5vnksXk.