IT departments value their IBM Power Systems mid-range servers for their high performance and reliability, making them ideal for mission-critical applications. While Power Systems servers have traditionally been on-premises systems, they’re increasingly available in the cloud. Putting Power Systems infrastructure and applications into the cloud adds many advantages: rapid scalability, ease of management, reduced IT staff, access to new technologies, and distributed access for remote workers. Power Systems plus the cloud is really the best of both worlds.

What you need to migrate IBM Power Systems to the cloud

Successfully moving any legacy application to the cloud requires careful planning. If you’re considering migrating some or all of your Power Systems AIX or IBM i applications, here’s a guide to help you plan your move.  

Development, disaster recovery or production

Cloud environments can serve three basic purposes:

  • Development - The cloud can provide a development “sandbox” for writing and testing new code
  • Disaster recovery - Cloud environments are often used for disaster recovery solutions. Replicating applications and data to the cloud can give you a ready-to-use backup in case of an outage or cyber-attack on the main production system.
  • Production - Re-hosting all or part of your production IBM systems to the cloud can also give you access to the latest hardware improvements and operating system updates, without your IT staff having to do a thing. The cloud also provides a convenient and cost-effective way to meet seasonal demand for IT resources without having to buy additional hardware.

IaaS or DRaaS

There are two options for moving Power Systems applications to the cloud: infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).

IaaS is an infrastructure-only option which includes storage capacity, network functionality, CPU, and memory. IaaS can help extend an on-premises system by providing additional storage or virtual servers as needed, sparing the customer the cost of buying new hardware to meet occasional surges in demand.  The customer can implement whatever platform it wants, which is convenient for organizations with older versions of the IBM i or AIX platforms.

DRaaS is good for ensuring that on-premises servers can failover to an alternate system in the cloud in case of a natural or man-made disaster. The on-site applications and data are replicated to a cloud virtual server which acts as a “cold” or “hot” spare in case of disaster. By using DRaaS rather than a simple data backup to the cloud, you can significantly reduce downtime and data loss. 

TierPoint’s IBM Systems disaster recovery service is an example of a DRaaS solution. Examples of IaaS offerings include: Data Storage Corp.’s (DSC’s) eHost, the IBM Cloud with Power Systems Virtual Servers. IBM Power Systems platform for Google Cloud, and .Skytap’s cloud for AIX and IBM i on IBM Power.

Migration help

Many cloud providers offer migration services to help you transition to their cloud environment. Alternatively, you can contract with a cloud managed services provider who can both migrate and manage your environment. Migration services may include a pre-migration assessment, a roadmap and timeline for the migration, and help carrying out the migration. Management services cover the day-to-day administration of a cloud environment—such as updates, performance and security monitoring, and tech support.

Pre-migration audit

You’ll need an inventory of your Power Systems portfolio including servers, applications and licenses, application interfaces, and the various categories of data (e.g., financial data, public data, personally identifiable information covered by privacy laws, etc.) Also take stock of your in-house resources. What types of Power Systems and cloud services expertise exists among your employees, and what training opportunities can the managed services provider or consultant offer?  Educating your staff enables them to liaise with IBM and cloud solutions vendors, as well as troubleshoot problems in an emergency.

Workload sizing

Before you can move application workloads to the cloud, you need to size them. Knowing the performance data on your workloads will help you cost effectively plan your cloud requirements.  Otherwise, you may have to spend more to add virtual machines, memory, and storage capacity post migration. There are tools for analyzing the performance of IBM i and AIX applications, such as the IBM Workload Estimator or Systems Workload Estimator.

Data backup

Perhaps the most critical element of any migration is a good copy of your data. No one wants to lose half their business data to an untested backup. In the past, data was copied to tape and the tapes were sent to the cloud provider for upload. However, tape backups are more time consuming and more vulnerable to loss or theft. Lately, transferring data directly to the cloud has become more popular.  For direct transfer, you can use an ETL (extract, transfer, and load) tool or replication service from a third-party provider, such as Google, TierPoint or Data Storage Corp.  

Schedule the migration

Because migrations can go awry, it’s best to choose a date and time when few end users will need the system. Typically, migrations and backups are scheduled on the weekend or late at night. Some migration services, such as TierPoint’s DRaaS, can replicate data in the background, without impacting the end user experience. When you finally do migrate your systems, whether it’s in phases or all at once, make sure to build in extra time for tweaking and testing. Ultimately, a cloud migration should provide you with the flexibility and scalability you need to meet the needs of your business while retaining the Power Systems infrastructure that you’ve come to depend upon.

Migrate and protect your IBM Power Systems environment

Managed services providers (MSPs) can help you manage all of the considerations outlined in this post and more. When working with a managed services provider, you also gain the expertise needed to manage these large and complex migration projects without adding a burden to your IT team. Along with our partner, Data Storage Corporation (DSC), we provide migration, disaster recovery, and other managed services for cloud and hybrid environments.

Data Storage Corporation (DSC) is a provider specializing in IBM iSeries disaster recovery and helps organizations protect their data, minimize downtime and recover and restore data within their objectives. TierPoint is a leading provider of secure, connected data center and cloud solutions. Together, they provide a comprehensive solution for managing IBM iSeries migration, hosting and disaster recovery. Learn more about how you can protect your IBM iSeries environment and migrate to the cloud.

To learn more about migrating legacy systems to the cloud or protecting it with a disaster recovery solution, contact us today.

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