Cloud Vendors Team Up To Offer Hybrid IBM i-X86 DR Service
September 8, 2014 Alex Woodie
In today’s interconnected world, no IBM i server operates alone anymore, so why should they be recovered separately? With that in mind, longtime IBM i server reseller Meridian IT has partnered with NScaled, a provider of business continuity solutions for Windows and Linux, to offer a hybrid disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) offering that spans the IBM i and X86 platforms.
Based in the IBM i hotbed of Chicago, Meridian IT is one of the bigger IBM business partners hawking Power servers today. Like other IBM resellers, the 35-year-old company has responded to the call of the cloud, and today Meridian has more than 100 customers running IBM i workloads–including production workloads as well as standby backups–on Power servers located in its two data centers in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, NScaled designed its backup and DR business to run on the cloud from the very beginning. While big enterprises could protect their IT assets with SunGard Availability Services or IBM’s Business Continuity and Resilience Services division, small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) didn’t have those options. So NScaled was founded to fill that underserved market sector.
While down in the SMB trenches, NScaled often ran into opportunities that were beyond its comfort zone. “Our focus is on Windows and Linux. We often run into iSeries out there,” says NScaled vice president of sales Mark Jameson, who previously worked at SunGard AS. “After having enough of those opportunities we had to walk away from, I approached Meridian about putting a partnership together.”
Jameson’s counterpart at Meridian was another former SunGard AS employee, Peggy Serena, who was hired in 2013 to direct Meridian’s cloud business. That common SunGard AS link turned out to be beneficial, and Meridian welcomed the chance to sell its IBM i DR and HA solutions next to NScaled’s Windows and Linux solutions.
Meridian offers two main business continuity services for IBM i, each with different recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs). This includes a hosted DR service based on EVault‘s online backup technology and a hosted high availability service based on Maxava‘s logical replication software. With the online backup technology, customers can choose to install appliances in their locations that store seven to 14 days of data.
NScaled’s product provides a range of continuity options for X86 servers, from basic backup to full failover. The company maintains backup X86 capacity in three Equinix data centers around the world, which ensure its customers that they’ll have the X86 server capacity they need in the event of an outage.
While NScaled and Meridian use separate storage, replication, and recovery mechanisms to protect IBM i and X86 servers–which of course is by necessity–the companies have worked to provide a layer of commonality to tightly integrated environments.
“We protect and replicate Windows into our environment, and Meridian does the same thing with the iSeries into their environment,” Jameson says. “But then we tie that all together. So in a disaster event, they would still be having an iSeries talking to a Windows box or Linux box, with users coming through one network to access all that.”
In other words, NScaled and Meridian will do the work to ensure that any intra-platform connections between production IBM i servers and production Windows or Linux servers are maintained in the failover environment. While the actual servers will reside in the providers’ separate data centers, pains will be taken to ensure the configurations are maintained.
Serena expects the partnership with NScaled to benefit both firms. Meridian has seen a surge in interest in hosted DR and HA services among IBM i shops, and that trend is not likely to wane. “The centralization of standalone iSeries into a data center model is very much a trend. I’ve been engaged with it for about 10 years and it doesnâ€™t seem to be stopping,” she says.
The aging population of systems administrators and the trend toward IT staff reductions are partly responsible for the mass migration into data centers. “The fact is that once again IT staff is being slashed, so therefore the iSeries admin or AIX admin is no longer a part of the mix and companies are looking to us and our 25-year-plus of expertise to help with that,” she says. “So it’s more platform driven than DR driven, but DR comes with it.”
The ever-increasing demand for uptime is also a factor. “Because the iSeries is typically in transaction-heavy industries, such as purchasing and retail and hospitality and financial services, the need for those systems to be up 24/7 is becoming more pressing,” Serena says.