Leading organizations are migrating their mission-critical IBM i workloads to the cloud for many reasons. It’s not all about speeds and feeds! The cloud offers a host of benefits, from modernizing environments and lowering capital expenditures, to mitigating the risks of the staffing shortage and bolstering HA/DR, to having an option for rapid provisioning that can handle workload spikes. Regardless of the rationale, it’s important to evaluate your individual business case to determine the right path for your business. Cost, resource availability, workloads, security, regulatory restrictions, and many other factors will play a role in moving IBM i to the cloud.
You’ll have many decisions to make along the way, but here’s an overview of the key considerations. The first is finding the right cloud provider and cost structure. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), private clouds, public clouds, and MSPs are all good options. You can then determine how to dip your toes in with the right projects or processes. Perhaps this will be with an HA/DR backup or by spinning up a partition for a month to support a special initiative.
For longer-term cloud strategies, sizing your footprint (workloads) will help you estimate the processing capabilities and disk space required for current and future initiatives. You’ll also need to think through data migration: tape to restore and local/remote journaling are popular choices. Once you’re up and running in the cloud, you’ll benefit from paying only for what you need and will have the flexibility to increase resources as necessary. But remember not to make assumptions about how your cloud provider operates as far as backups, staffing, flexibility, or anything else. No one likes costly surprises, and the details are important!
What to Consider Before You Migrate IBM Power Workloads to the Cloud
As you begin to craft your plan for moving on-prem workloads, there are numerous cloud migration considerations for your to-do list, such as fully assessing costs, identifying and sizing workloads, and thinking through your data replication plan. Spending time on a comprehensive cloud strategy will enable the project to go smoothly, minimizing performance issues and downtime. A successful launch into cloud-enabled workflows requires knowledge of the benefits, risks, and mechanics involved, as well as having a solid foundation for systems management.
When it comes to cost, you have to dig into the details. A cloud server’s pay-by-the-hour model can save money, but data center expenses and having your onsite resources handle administrative activities can add up. Identify workloads best suited for cloud to help you get a handle on their size. Hint: production environments with variable workloads are the most common reason for looking to the cloud.
Sizing workloads properly helps prevent unanticipated charges. This starts with capturing performance data and will help you accurately estimate usage and identify when peaks occur. Once you’re ready to migrate, you can evaluate options for restoring on-prem data in the cloud, storage-based replication via SAN, and tools like Robot HA that use local and remote journaling to support a smooth transition over time before the final role swap. This on-demand webinar will help you refine your strategy: How to Plan for IBM i in the Cloud.
How to Optimize Cost for IBM i in the Cloud
There’s a tendency to believe the cloud can magically reduce costs with lower requirements for capital expenditures on hardware, software, and resources. But this isn’t always the case. There are some hidden costs you’ll want to understand before you proceed. First, assess your workloads and where spikes may occur to help you estimate usage and the associated disk and memory requirements to avoid surcharges. You want to pay for precisely the resources and licenses you need and nothing beyond. Second, review your existing IBM maintenance charges for the operating system and licensed programs. There may be some attractive billing options through your cloud provider, and you don’t want to pay twice for the same service.
Identifying and Sizing IBM i Workloads
Maximizing the benefit of the cloud means identifying which applications are best suited to this environment. Start by cataloging your IBM i workloads to understand which don’t generate revenue (e.g., payroll or email), are accessed globally, or involve data subject to the fewest regulatory restrictions. IBM Collection Services maintains historical snapshots of your platform’s usage as a great way to start measuring workloads. You’ll need a tool like Performance Navigator to make sense of this trove of data and help you model how workloads may look in the cloud to predict future processor usage.
Simplify IBM i Data Replication in the Cloud
Once you’ve determined which workloads or data you’d like to migrate, it’s time to figure out the best way to migrate them with little to no business disruption. There are several options, each with their own pros and cons. Save-and-restore choices may be applicable depending on your tolerance for outage windows and how quickly you need the project to happen. You can also handle data synchronization with logical replication that leverages remote journaling. Robot HA is a great option to accomplish this with little or no downtime and the ability to perform testing.
Managing IBM i in the Cloud
IBM i is often the system of record for ERP, HR, and supply chain data, among other things. The platform also attaches to key systems of engagement such as email and mobile applications to make them successful. Even if you’ve moved critical workloads and applications to the cloud, your IT team is still the feet on the street keeping things running. They’ll need to oversee everything happening both on-premises and in the cloud. This means monitoring security, job performance, FTP interfaces, audit journal tasks, and more, ideally with a centralized dashboard to ensure you can meet internal SLAs. Downtime is a business issue, not just a technology issue.
Cloud Security for IBM i
Security is just as important for your cloud servers as for your on-premises environments. Securing your cloud server takes due diligence. Start by understanding the current security level of your IBM i environment and seek outside help from security experts if needed. Evaluate the types of data involved (financial, personal), where they’re processed geographically, and applicable regulatory requirements. Where data will be stored and the headquarters of the company that protects it will come into play as you navigate regulatory restrictions for data residency, sovereignty, and localization. Your cloud provider will likely have experience in helping you address these issues, because other organizations face them as well. In fact, they probably have more staff focused on security than you do internally.