Move Your IBM i To The Cloud On Your Own Terms
November 16, 2015 Alex Woodie
One of the biggest technology shifts in history–the move to cloud computing–is currently occurring. But technology pros at many organizations–in particular those running IBM i servers–are fearful about what a move to the cloud will mean for them and their organization. The good news, says Denovo Ventures CTO Richard Dolewski, is that IBM i pros can make the move on their own terms.
The cloud is still fairly new to most IBM i professionals. While IBM i cloud deployments are growing, arguably less than 10 percent of IBM i workloads are cloud-based at this time. However, all signs point to this number growing substantially in the years to come–provided customers’ fears can be assuaged, and they can move to the cloud on their own terms.
That’s the topic that Dolewski will be tackling in a COMMON webinar this Thursday. Dolewski–an IBM i disaster recovery expert who joined Denovo earlier this year to lead the creation of Denovo’s new IBM i cloud practice–gave IT Jungle a preview of some of the topics he’ll cover in the webinar, which is titled Enable IBM i in the Cloud on Your Terms.
One of the most common concerns that IBM i professionals have when considering a move to the cloud is losing control. In fact, customers don’t lose much control at all when they move to the cloud, Dolewski says.
“I was just at a session and somebody thought, you won’t have access to your own data in the cloud, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “It’s your terms. You control the service level agreement, you control the access, you control security, you control the computing power, and backup windows. That’s what I mean by ‘your terms.'”
Cloud computing is a new business model build on technology, but many customers are afraid of technological change. One of the first steps in moving to the cloud on your terms is to understand that it often means adopting new IBM i technology.
“The cloud is another way to say virtualization,” Dolewski says. “Traditionalists will say ‘I’ll do it this way and I won’t use PowerVM or VIOS. I’ll use direct attached storage. I won’t do Live Partition Mobility–I won’t even look at any of these things that are the true value of the IBM i core system.'”
The same holds true of the VARs and business partners who supply them with boxes. Many of these companies either don’t know about the new technologies, such as Storwize V7000 arrays and SSDs, or they know about them, but don’t want to alienate the customer.
“Most of the traditional resellers aren’t very well educated on what else to sell, or maybe they’re well educated but they know how to close a deal with the least amount of objection, or potentially they don’t have the skills on the backend to implement this,” Dolewski says.
Fear of losing one’s job is another common refrain heard among companies looking at adopting an IBM i cloud. While there’s always the potential than an IBM i administrator or operator could lose a job, Dolewski tackles the topic from another angle.
“Everybody is right sized to death already,” he says. “We used to have three operators, now we have one and it’s automated. We always say to people we are an extension of their IT department.”
The real danger to IBM i professionals is not keeping their skills up to date and not keeping up with the platform’s latest capabilities, Dolewski says. “It comes down to ambition to be better than you are,” he says. “If you’re a dynamic individual and ready to learn and augment your skillset, and say yes to the business instead of always no it can’t be done,” then you still have value to the firm.
Security is another fear that often comes up when considering the move to the cloud. If you can’t put your arms around the server that’s running the database, or see the SANs running in the corner of your data center, then how do you know your data is safe?
The truth is, managed service providers (MSPs) often have better security and data protection capabilities than the average shop. It comes back to the scalability and extensibility of the cloud business model. Cloud providers can afford to implement and run sophisticated enterprise security products, like intrusion detection systems, that may be beyond the reach of the average end-user shop.
“I just came back from an AWS show, and they can demonstrate to me hand over fist why they are as secure, if not more secure, than any other place,” Dolewski says. “I can tell you as a hosting provider, we’re more secure because of the enterprise tools we’re able to buy and deploy.”
That’s not to say there aren’t risks in moving to the cloud. Some big MSPs focus primarily on Windows and Linux, and offer IBM i hosting almost as an afterthought. “Some of these guys have a hard time finding the CD drives. It’s incredible,” Dolewski says. “Somebody who’s not in the business of managing IBM Power as a core competency and is cloud provider is not the person for you. It has to be a core competency.”
Dolewski says about one-third of the MSPs who offer IBM i hosting are not serious about the business. It shouldn’t be too hard to sniff out those MSPs who don’t have that commitment to IBM i. However, it can be harder to find IBM i cloud providers who do security and disaster recovery the right way, he says.
At the end of the day, many of the fears of moving to a cloud model have already been addressed by the trailblazers who have gone before you. We now have a growing community of MSPs who offer access to hosted slices of IBM i. If it’s not a commodity yet, it’s well on its way.
“It enables you to buy and integrate better security, better available and better control than you ever had because you couldn’t justify buying the one off. By leveraging it across 10, 80, 180 customers, guess what? We can actually distribute that value,” Dolewski says.
“When you tell them that, then it’s not a hard sell. It’s about education and giving them a business and a technological advantage, and giving them the sense that they still have control while being more available and more secure than they could ever be themselves.”