Your CIO Wants To Move To The Cloud, Here’s How You Really Get There
October 28, 2020 Dave Wiseman
The Connectria team presents a three-part series addressing concerns IBM users have about the platform and its future. Part Three: How to work with your CIO who wants to move to the cloud.
(Sponsored Content) Last month, we continued our discussion of common concerns about the IBM platform by examining security as it pertains to Power Systems. A third and final concept to unpack is a big one – it’s how to address your CIO who wants to move to the cloud.
When we think about digital transformation, yes, the esoteric buzzword we despise, does that concept fully encompass and explain what this multifaceted journey entails? When we think about the overall journey to the cloud, from the lens of someone running on Power Systems, we organize the digital transformation process into phases all dependent on completing one before the other. Baby steps. Why? Because if you approach your transformation process haphazardly, too quickly, or not realistically enough, your business will suffer. Plain and simple.
Important questions to ask:
- What are the business impacts?
- Development Costs
- Conversion Costs – May be in same bucket as development
- New Environment Costs
- Business process changes
- What methodology is going to be used to transform?
- Internal team
- Outside third-party
- Mix/Hybrid Approach
- Consultative engagement
- Are there known methods in place or are you trudging into unknown territory?
Starting out, you (and your CIO) need to know how you plan on moving to the cloud, what it will (or can) cost, and if you have the right team; among other things. Like us, many in this space don’t care about buzz words like digital transformation. The people who do care are typically your CIO or CTO. There are a lot of young CIOs that come in and want to get rid of the platform, viewing it as an exposure. A team of one system admin is scary but if you can augment that with support services so it’s not just a team of one but actually an organization. It also doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Having help from an organization, offers you the luxury of not having to worry about the platform as much. Instead, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that its being taken care of. However, if your CIO does want to move to the cloud, you need to realistically manage their cloud journey expectations, be able to help your CIO understand the many components involved when he asks to move to the cloud, and the possibility that you may need to dramatically change your approach to the cloud.
We covered some preliminary questions and established a baseline for working with your CIO. Next, let’s quickly cover some of the typical approaches for moving to the cloud:
- Developmental approach starts out with greenfield and rebuilding entire or parts of the entire application that was developed on the IBM i on a Windows or Linux based application.
- Conversion approach is only possible if you are using an application which has a similar x86 version that you can leverage to convert from. JDE is an example of an application that runs in IBM i or in x86.
- Emulation approach is possible only if all of the components that you run on your IBM i are all self-developed (you own all the code). Having the source code is critical to allow for re-compiling the code on a different platform and few folks own all of the source code for all the components of their platform.
- Maintain platform approach is just that, you maintain the platform yourself or you team up with a services provider which can move your existing workload from an on-premise deployment to a virtual deployment and can even pair it with public cloud resources and services.
Converting from IBM i to a commodity platform like Windows or Linux may sound simple at first. You just extract the data for the database, import to a known database management system of choice, and build an application which gives you the same functionality as you have today. Hmmm… Okay, maybe not as simple as the original assumptions.
In some cases, the existence of an application platform that has an x86 version similar to the IBM i does make the process easier and faster. But if you are like a lot of organizations, you probably have created a bunch of custom code and processes over the years which aren’t likely to move over without extensive discovery and recreation. If your entire platform is purpose built on custom code and combination of third-party software, built over many years, the process becomes even harder to just pick up and move to another platform.
Time and time again, as the largest provider of IBM i systems, we have met customers who have said that they have a project to get off the platform within the next 18 months or so. Of those customers the largest portion by far are renewing contracts for an additional three, four, or five years because they’ve decided that likely it will be at least that long, or they’ve abandoned the effort entirely. Going down the path of replatforming is not a guarantee of success and CIOs need to understand that the process can be fraught with challenges which may derail their ultimate goal.
But against the odds, say your organization does make the transition. Even after the process is complete, you may need to then continue to maintain the system for regulatory reasons well beyond its intended lifetime. My final takeaway for you is simply some food for thought in how to properly manage expectations. Here are the top five realistic cloud migration expectations:
- It likely won’t be easy
- It likely won’t be a straightforward process
- Things will be overlooked in the process
- Trade-offs will change processes
- Employees will be resistant to change
At the end of the day, always make sure to ask yourself, are you spending a dollar to save a nickel? Is the lift worth the reward? And move forward accordingly.
Dave Wiseman has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He currently serves as vice president of solutions architecture at Connectria where he helped establish the IBM i hosting and cloud solutions. He is a member of several organizations supporting IBM i technologies including the IBM Champion Program which recognizes innovative thought leaders in the technical community.