A Preview Of The Comarch Cloud Calculator
November 3, 2021 Tomasz Wachnicki
For many IBM i shops, the cloud is a new consumption model and cloud-based applications and infrastructure is still a new way of doing things. If the cloud means anything, it means reducing the friction of buying and using capacity and moving from capital expenses that have to be amortized to utility-style consumption that does not have to be. But there are a lot of moving parts, and customers have to be aware of how these things plug together and how they are priced so they can reckon what their cloud bill will be each hour, day, week, month, and year.
Here at Comarch, which is a very large business in Europe, we not only have built a cloud that is based on IBM Power Systems, but we have expertise in building application software and have therefore not only built our own cloud controller, but also the billing systems that are integrated into them. And to help customers who are not familiar with cloud consumption up to speed, we have been building what we call the Comarch Cloud Calculator, which will be available soon, to help customers make the move from on premises to the cloud. We thought that we would give you a little preview of the Cloud Calculator and also talk a little bit about the cloud controller that we have built behind our PowerCloud service, which has been available since 2019.
As you can see, we have a Cloud Calculator for both our X86-based Infraspace Cloud as well as for our Power-based PowerCloud, and the calculator gives a sense of the cost of raw infrastructure – decimal portions of a CPU of performance, memory, storage, and so on – as well as for the add-on managed services that Comarch offers to IBM i customers.
The Comarch PowerCloud and the Infraspace Cloud are both managed through what we call the Selfcare Portal, which as the name suggests is where customers actually manage the IBM i and AIX infrastructure they rent as well as do calculations and capacity planning as they use this capacity. The Selfcare Portal is created using Red Hat’s Angular tool and all of the front-end elements of the portal come from out internally library of elements, which we call the Comarch Design System. And as I said, we use the billing system that is part of the Comarch ERP package that we also sell as a service.
The Selfcare Portal has a main dashboard that starts by setting up a virtual machine and operating system:
Then its storage and processor capacity:
And then asks if you want some support add-ons:
Once that is done and it is running for a while, the Selfcare Portal shows a time plot of usage of CPU, memory, and storage and the estimated costs for the month:
If you drill down into the Selfcare Portal, you can see the aggregated data about the account and the virtual machines in use:
Now, once you have the virtual machines set up, you can add advanced features such as capacity auto-scaling, boot options, and job scheduling:
After customers do some initial setup of a virtual machine, it takes about 15 minutes for an instance to boot and initialize. Customers can pick the operating system version and release for the virtual machine, and for IBM i instances, we can add disk capacity as well as shared volumes across instances. So if you have an existing IBM i setup on the Comarch PowerCloud, you can select volumes from the existing instance and use it as a shared disk on different virtual machines. Processor capacity is stepped up in 01, increments and memory is stepped up in 0.5 GB increments all the way up to 128 GB per CPU. The neat thing is how easy it is to clone a whole machine, which customers can do if they have big report runs or analytical jobs they need to run. They don’t have to wait until nighttime and run these in batch mode on the production machine; they can just clone it and run them right now.
One of the other things that we do as part of the Selfcare Portal and the Cloud Calculator is provide full pricing for all of our infrastructure and services, and moreover, these are documented for the PowerCloud as well as the Infraspace Cloud for any and all to see. You can see our full price list at this link, in fact.
The point is, you can easily see what the cost of capacity will be to, say, run a report on a cloned system for an hour at the end of each month, and then you can figure out if having that report available during business hours, today when it is needed, is worth the money compared to running it on the production system after it quiets down at night but is available the next day, when it is perhaps not as useful. Rapid reporting and analytics on closed machines is something cloud capacity offers – well, at least the Comarch PowerCloud offers – and which is very hard to replicate in an on-premises datacenter without having a lot of overprovisioned capacity to deal with whatever peaks might be necessary to support.
That is the crux of the cloud argument right there. It is not so much that companies can move their applications and databases to someone else’s infrastructure. We have been able to do that with hosting for several decades. But rather, it is operating infrastructure in an entirely new, more flexible fashion, with virtual machines coming into existence, doing some work, and then turning themselves off. Customers will always have a core database machine running somewhere, but it can be cloned and do lots of other work in parallel that had to be done in series.
This as well as the cloud consumption model is what is truly transformative for IBM i and AIX on the cloud.
Which brings us all the way back to the Comarch Cloud Calculator, which will be live soon. Here is a preview, showing the conversion of a Power8 machine with twelve cores to a Power9 instance:
With the Cloud Calculator, you will be able to input some basic information about your current on-premises machine and then we will guide you though choosing enough capacity to provide the same level of performance on the PowerCloud, and then show you what the capacity and related services you choose will cost. You can play around with scenarios and estimate what your budget will be and not just buy a bunch of cloud services and hope it will not be too expensive, as happens with a lot of other clouds.
The access to Comarch PowerCloud Platform is here: https://management.infraspace-comarch.com/products
Tomasz Wachnicki is product manager in the Comarch ICT division of Comarch.
This content is sponsored by Comarch ICT.