Litmis Spaces Pitches Price, Monthly Contracts To Cloud Shoppers
January 30, 2017 Dan Burger
There are plenty of places an IBM i shop can turn to for cloud computing services. The list of IBM i managed service providers (MSPs) is longer than the line to get free adult beverages at the COMMON conference vendor reception. One of the choices is Litmis Spaces, a host for IBM i development space that has a hankering to grow into a full-service MSP. The company’s $157 per month IBM i access is maybe the next best thing to a free adult beverage.
The low monthly fee buys a single-tenant Power8 machine (meaning that you are the only one on the machine and you have complete control over it) with 480 CPWs of processing capacity, 2 GB of RAM, and 500 GB of disk; your choice of IBM i 7.1, 7.2, or 7.3 for an operating system. IBM Software Maintenance (SWMA) is included, which brings the capability to install PTFs or log a project management review (PMR) with IBM. Customers have QSECOFR authority.
The Litmis Spaces machine is preconfigured with the ILE compilers, Backup Recovery Media Services (BRMS) archiving software, unlimited IBM i profiles, 5733-OPS (open source licensed programs), and a variety of other IBM licensed programs. The disk space is part of a storage area network (SAN). Solid state drives (SSDs) are an available option. A VMware vCloud firewall–managed by the customer via a browser–is also included.
If additional CPW, RAM, or disk is needed, it can be adjusted at any time, with a price increase concurrent with the date it goes into effect.
Litmis Spaces also offers a no-cost, multi-tenant offering that provides access to a pre-configured Ruby, Node.js, or Python environment. If you are looking for an open source sandbox to play in, here it is. As you might expect, users have significantly less authority in the multi-tenant environment. Bartell says there are plans to add additional for-pay features that users might eventually want to consider.
“Last year we on-ramped our first customers,” says Aaron Bartell, director of IBM i innovation at Krengel Technology, which owns and operates Litmis Spaces. “The big customers are using Litmis Spaces Single Tenant to extend their existing on-premise IBM i footprints. Specifically, they want access to newer versions of the OS to test their software or have a place where they can have their consultants build software without having the consultants on their core machines. The smaller customers are using it to kick the tires of things like Node.js. We also have customers who are hobby developers and those that have ideas for putting their own websites online.”
One clever customer used Litmis Spaces to give a new RPG developer a learning environment outside the company’s on-premise servers. Another customer, a multi-platform independent software vendor (ISV), is using it to test its software against DB2 for i.
Of course, you can’t swap your existing IT overhead costs for a monthly charge of $157. That’s just a starting point for a useful service. Here’s an example of what can be done with a hosted production environment.
Bartell says recently a business contact running on a Power6 machine compared costs of keeping its on-premises servers with the Litmis Spaces single-tenant option. The business runs an ERP package with 100-plus users. The price per month came to $1,200, although Bartell says the company is considering the purchase of additional disk capacity for VTL backups. The company’s current monthly costs for Power hardware, IBM i licensing, plus power, heating and cooling, and internet exceeds $1,200.
Bartell believes there’s increasing awareness of cost savings in hosted environments.
“As you might have guessed, cost savings is highly dependent on the scenario,” he says. “For smaller needs, it pans out fairly easily because it’s a whole lot of infrastructure that doesn’t need to be built by the business. Our solution starts out bare bones. You get access to an instance of IBM i. You apply your own PTFs or hire us to do it. You can add VTL backups or can opt to do your own thing. You can stick with the single instance of IBM i or obtain a second instance at another location for HA/DR.
“That’s not to say it’s right for everyone, but I do believe it will be a good fit for many, even if the hosted IBM i isn’t their primary machine. In the past decades–with AS/400, iSeries, and now IBM i–we have had to be stingy at procuring new server instances because of costs or labor reasons. That’s a mindset we’re hoping to squash, because it’s no longer a reality anyone needs to live in,” he says.
As businesses look for competitive advantages, being agile gets a lot of attention. Being agile means having the ability to quickly implement technological changes. Startup companies have the competitive advantage of new technology and many established companies are operating on much older technology. That’s part of the allure of a managed service provider. New hardware. New operating systems. New efficiencies. But it takes some preparation. Not all companies are prepared–mentally or physically–to make that move.
Add to that the long-term contracts that can range from one year to three years and it’s not surprising that resistance to hosted, Web-based, off-premise systems has curbed some of the momentum.
Give Litmis Spaces credit for offering month-to-month contracts and whittling its price point.
For those who are interested in researching the field of IBM i managed service providers, a lengthy list of MSPs can be found on Joe Hertvik’s Community Post.
Bartell will be presenting a session titled “First Step Into Cloud” at the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition in May. It will describe how to have an IBM i in the cloud that hosts a Web app (Ruby, Node.js, PHP, RPG, Java, Python, etc.) and then an encrypted DRDA connection is made to the back-office IBM i for DB2 access.