Skytap and Precisely in Azure HA Hookup
November 1, 2023 Alex Woodie
Skytap customers running on IBM i servers in Microsoft Azure data centers can now utilize MIMIX high availability software from Precisely (formerly Vision Solutions) as a result of a partnership the two vendors unveiled this month. Customers also get access to consumption-based pricing in the Azure Marketplace as a result of the new deal.
While Azure and all public clouds are predominantly composed of standard Intel servers, Skytap has developed a specialty of integrating non-standard computing environments, like IBM i, with public cloud infrastructure.
The Seattle, Washington-based company has an agreement with Microsoft to manage IBM Power servers running IBM i and AIX operating systems in its Azure cloud data centers. The company has been selling a public cloud-like experience for IBM i runtimes since early 2019. It has a similar agreement with IBM to offer access to Power server environments running in the IBM Cloud (it has a slightly different billing and support arrangement than IBM itself offers).
While the proximity to the Azure infrastructure and cloud services is obviously a benefit to IBM i customers who sign cloud contracts with Skytap, the customers would also like some degree of protection for their IBM i applications and data, particularly as they move production IBM i workloads into the cloud. That’s where Skytap’s new partnership with Precisely comes into play.
Precisely, which changed its name from Syncsort in 2020, today focuses primarily on developing tools to help companies prepare their data for analysis and AI, thanks to Syncsort acquisitions of Trillium and Pitney Bowes’ location analytics business, among others. The Burlington, Massachusetts company, which boasts 12,000 customers, touts its sprawling Data Integrity Suite as “your one-stop shop for trusted data.”
Buried in Precisely’s Integrate product suite is the line of IBM i high availability software developed over decades by Vision Solutions, Lakeview Technology, iTera, and Trader’s. Headlined by the flagship MIMIX offering, Precisely’s HA tools are lumped into the vendor’s “Assure” sub-line of products in the Integrate suite, alongside IBM i security tools obtained with the company’s acquisitions of Enforcive, Cilasoft, and Townsend Security’s encryption software (if you’re also having difficulty locating data about these products on the Precisely website, you can quickly navigate to them by clicking “IBM i” from the solutions drop-down menu).
As part of their new partnership, Precisely and Skytap have worked to make Assure MIMIX available to Skytap’s IBM i customers. The new offering has some specific requirements as far as configurations go and is limited in terms of topologies, so it’s important for customers to do their homework before signing up.
Skytap and Precisely are making it easy for Skytap customers to get started with MIMIX in the cloud environment. Customers can go to their Skytap management console and click the box indicating that they would like to use the new offering, which automatically triggers the licensing and billing components of the solution.
Currently, customers must have exactly two Skytap virtual machines (VMs) to license and configure MIMIX in the cloud environment. The first VM is required to be the production server and the second VM is required to be the target. MIMIX will use its logical replication capabilities to replicate Db2 for i data and application objects from the production to the target. The roles can be swapped in the event of an emergency or as part of a planned role-swap.
Only two-node configurations are currently supported, according to Skytap’s documentation on the new MIMIX offering, although Skytap says it “may support other topologies in the future.”
There are some restrictions for existing MIMIX customers. If existing MIMIX on-prem customers who want to move to MIMIX on Skytap, they should not click the button on the Skytap management console indicating they want to use MIMIX in Skytap, since they could be double-billed. Instead, on-prem customers who are already MIMIX users should contact Skytap to see how they should migrate over to MIMIX running on Skytap.
When on-prem customers end their existing MIMIX agreements and starting fresh with MIMIX running in Skytap, the cloud company will make some “best practice adjustments” on the MIMIX configuration, according to Skytap’s documentation. These changes include enabling MIMIX software management (*MGT) systems, using MIMIX Data Protection Reports (DPR), enablement of TLS/SSL for Assure Unified Interface (AUI) connections, and some changes made to host and port names.
One interesting aspect of the new offering is the enablement of consumption-based pricing through the Azure Marketplace, the online store where thousands of vendors put their wares on offer. Specifically, billing is based on “entitled capacity” per month, the company says.
Making MIMIX available in the Azure Marketplace will streamline access to the software, says Rahul Tripathi, Skytap’s chief product and technology officer. “Offering Assure MIMIX at the click of a button for IBM i workloads running in Skytap provides critical workload protection and automatically reduces risk of data loss for our customers,” he says in a press release.
Skytap is supporting MIMIX on IBM i 7.3 and higher; 7.2 is not supported. Skytap also offers IBM’s PowerHA on Azure and IBM Cloud. For more information, see www.skytap.com.