NGS And LightEdge Provide New Entry To The Cloud
February 12, 2018 Dan Burger
When does the time come to consider moving your IBM i on Power off premise? Many IBM i shops remain unmoved. An uneasy feeling about losing control or applications and data remains a top concern. Fears of production server accessibility on someone else’s watch persist. After years of successfully running your core business apps on a reliable server, why change what’s working great?
Well, there are IBM i shops discovering compelling reasons and making the move. Gradually is the word that describes it. It’s not unobservable or insignificant. The reasonableness is not universal, and moderation seems to be the mindset.
“Approach the cloud with caution,” warned Bill Langston during a webinar presentation last week that promoted the idea that managed service providers (MSPs) and cloud service providers (CSPs) make sense for many IBM i shops.
Langston is the marketing director at New Generation Software (NGS), an IBM i independent software vendor (ISV) well versed in the ways and means of small to midsize shops (some large enterprise organizations, too) that have depended on IBM hardware and software for more than 25 years.
“Our anecdotal experience suggests there is a slow, steady movement in the direction of co-location, hosted services and cloud, but we’ve seen some rocky transitions and we think companies need to ask prospective providers more questions. It’s also important to give in-house IT staff an opportunity to gain hands-on experience supporting applications in this environment before going all-in,” Langston told IT Jungle in a preview of the webinar.
NGS has provided Web-based reporting software for many years. The software, NGS-IQ, is a versatile, IBM i-based business intelligence, analytics and reporting tool that extends the operational reporting and analytics of the Db2 for i database. It has multiple output choices and formatting capabilities designed to support the analytics and visualization needs of senior executives, middle managers, business analysts, casual users, and information technology professionals.
“We want to see shops continue to move forward on IBM i,” he said during the webinar. “The companies that are considering cloud or MSPs are often looking for more agility and to take advantage of capabilities they never had before.”
Those capabilities (reasons to consider off-premise infrastructure) include: moving data into a separate isolated environment without having to buy a second box or set up LPARs; having an isolated separated environment where app dev and testing at a higher OS release level, while production is a lower level OS; an option for companies with older hardware that might balk at the cost of upgrading to a box that’s way too large for them; turning over the responsibility for managing and administrating the box to a service provider because the time and skills to do this in-house no longer exists; and setting up a disaster recovery backup site, which is still the most common reason organizations turn to companies that provide managed services.
If any of those business reasons fit an organization’s environment, Langston recommends asking potential providers some important questions
The list should include: Are there any restrictions on what can be installed and run on the system? Are there fees for putting applications on the system? Will the provider guarantee that application installations be done in a timely manner? Who installs non-IBM updates and releases? (Some MSPs only take care of the operating system.) Who has security officer authority on a hosted system? How are your apps and data kept secure in a multi-tenant environment?
“We’ve seen these issues arise while doing support for our product,” Langston said. “We support an environment where the customer still has control of the things that differentiate its business from its competitors and the things that matter to its executives and end users. The way the OS is managed and the way the apps are presented are important, but what matters most is the customer’s data. There are critical distinctions when comparing hosted provider relationships.”
Langston shared the webinar stage with Roger Mellman, director of enterprise solutions at LightEdge Solutions, a CSP based in Des Moines, Iowa. The LightEdge data center is built with virtualization technology that supports IBM i and includes Live Partition Mobility – the capability to move LPARs from system to system, over the network between physical machines. Combined with Dynamic Logical Partitioning, which allows virtual CPU and memory capacity to be scaled up and down while applications are running in LPARs, LightEdge has the key components to cloud architecture. The virtualized infrastructure is one of the differentiators that puts LightEdge in a different category than MSPs.
Because the move to an MSP or CSP is typically incremental – disaster recovery has been the most chronicled first step for IBM i shops that have moved workloads to service providers – NGS and LightEdge have partnered to provide an alternative ingress using NGS-IQ. Langston describes it as low risk and low cost. Thirty-day trial evaluations are available with NGS support.
The Cloud Strategies webinar has been archived and is available at this link. Registration is required, but registration includes access to the NGS on-demand video library.