IBM i Finds A Place In The Cloud
May 27, 2014 Dan Burger
The IBM cloud game plan has a three-pronged strategy. It involves building its own private clouds and filling them with customers who appreciate the solid infrastructure and the services that IBM brings to the table. It is also developing a robust business model of being an infrastructure provider to business partners that are eager to create their own cloud business models. The third prong is a mix of private and public cloud options, operating systems, and virtualized infrastructure, which comes under the heading of hybrid cloud.
IBM i tends to be a niche in the big picture, just as we know it in its traditional on-premise mode. You’ll find i mixed in with all the other options in some of the existing clouds and sometimes as a single, i-specific cloud.
“We continue to see a lot of interest,” says Jane Munn, an IBM vice president and business line executive for cloud. “It’s not growing as rapidly as other areas, but it’s clear the IBM i install base wants the opportunity to participate in cloud.”
What’s not so clear is how many shops are moving all or part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The service providers with multi-tenent environments are not exactly crowing about their successes. The still-developing theater of operations is predominantly occupied by service providers hosting dedicated systems for clients that have made a decision to not purchase infrastructure. In most cases the shop continues to run the system from its off-premise location. And rare is the IBM i shop that owns its own private cloud.
Munn did not disagree. When she spoke with me last week at the IBM Edge2014 conference, she had just come from an MSP panel discussion featuring five managed service providers. When asked about the most popular deployment model, all five said majority of business is dedicated servers.
Munn’s view also aligns with IT Jungle articles that report a common workload in the cloud (IBM i or otherwise) is backup and recovery.
“We see some clients going beyond backup and recovery by moving some applications into the cloud,” she says. “But usually they are not mission critical. Email or web hosting are more likely. A lot of business data will stay on-prem. Apps that are not data intensive will move.”
Munn also brought up the recent announcement of IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack, which extends cloud management support to System z, in addition to Power Systems (but not IBM i), PureFlex/Flex Systems, System x, or any other X86 environments. The product also supports IBM z/VM on System z, and PowerVC for PowerVM on Power Systems designed to add more scalability and security to Linux environments.
The cloud management software also improves cloud security and adds automation, usage tracking, and multi-architecture management features.
Munn says there is a statement of direction that Cloud Manager will support IBM i in a time frame that is “not far over the horizon.”