According to CIO.com, cloud adoption is expected to soar to 96% in 2018, with 81% of companies deploying a multi-cloud environment. The remaining holdouts tend to be companies running mission-critical applications on legacy systems. This is a pretty good description of users of the IBM i Series, a platform with a thirty-year track record of helping some of the most successful organizations around the world run the core applications they use to conduct business.
However, as the IBM i platform ages, the reasons for moving to the cloud are starting to outweigh the reasons for staying put. In this post, we’ll call out six of those reasons and then provide some guidance on some of the options you’ll need to consider.
#1 Improved operational efficiency – Managing your own IBM i platforms in your on-premises data center may not be the best use of your internal resources. In fact, when you dedicate IT headcount to these administrative type tasks, your IT department has less time to spend on the IT innovations that will move your business forward. An IBM i Managed Service Provider (MSP) can handle these time-consuming, low-value-add (but critical!) tasks, so you can focus on reaching your vision.
#2 Better human resource management – As the IBM i Series platform ages, it’s becoming more difficult to hire and retain qualified technicians who can maintain your systems. Older IT specialists who “grew up” with the IBM i Series are reaching retirement age, and younger IT workers want to work on the newer platforms they learned in school. MSPs that focus on the IBM i environment can attract the best talent, and because they can spread the costs out across multiple customers, they can offer comprehensive employment packages that help ensure that talent remains onboard.
#3 Increased resilience – Doing backups can be a pain, and it’s easy to put them off. Furthermore, maintaining duplicate systems in the event of a disaster that might never happen can seem like a tremendous waste of capital resources. The right MSP can ensure your backups get done – and tested – on a regular schedule and provide failover resources at a fraction of the cost of maintaining your own disaster recovery site.
#4 Stronger security and compliance – It’s hard enough hiring and retaining IT professionals who understand your security and compliance requirements. Finding individuals who also understand the IBM i environment is getting near impossible. An MSP that understands both the ever-changing security landscape and the IBM i platform can significantly reduce your risks.
#5 Decreased costs – Maintenance fees for your IBM i systems can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can eliminate these fees by choosing an MSP that offers IBM i Hosted Cloud solutions on their IBM i systems.
#6 Better budget management – When you move your IBM i systems to the cloud, you can often take your yearly lump sum expenses and break them down into easier-to-handle monthly payments. For many businesses, this has the added benefit of moving CapEx expenses to OpEx. Always talk with your financial advisors to see if this is the case for you and to assess any potential tax benefits.
Your IBM i or Ours?
When moving workloads to an IBM i cloud, you have a couple of deployment options to consider. Let’s take a quick look at these and why a business might choose one over the other.
Remote monitoring and administration – If you have a lot of life left in your current IBM i systems and prefer to maintain your on-premises data center, remote monitoring and administration may be for you. In this scenario, you house your IBM i systems in your data center facilities, but you offload some of those time-consuming administrative tasks for which you may no longer have the in-house skills.
For some organizations, remote management and administration is a comfortable stepping-stone to a private, hosted solution. They may want to eventually divest themselves of data center responsibilities, but for various reasons, are not yet ready to do so.
Private, hosted IBM i cloud – In this scenario, your applications reside on equipment owned and managed by the MSP and housed in their facilities. As with remote monitoring and administration, qualified MSPs offer a number of additional managed services that can augment the skills of your current in-house staff, so you can select the level of service you need and not have to pay for services you don’t.
A private, hosted IBM i cloud is ideal for organizations that are ready to give up the overhead of maintaining their systems as well as the cost of maintaining their own data center. Because the cloud is private and hosted on IBM i systems, they will get the performance they are accustomed to. This option also works well for organizations that have legacy applications or workloads that won’t easily migrate to another platform.
Choose Your MSP Carefully
This probably goes without saying, but not all MSPs are equally qualified to offer IBM i hosting or administration services. Given the scarcity of IBM i talent, even MSPs need to make a concerted effort to maintain a full, qualified staff. IBM i services are not something you can “staff up for if a customer requests them.”
I think we can safely say that no other hosting provider has the IBM i resume that Connectria has. We’ve hosted over 900 IBM environments – more than any other provider outside of IBM themselves, and the average tenure of our IBM i engineers is 20+ years. We’re also a member of the IBM R&D team based in Rochester and a four-time recipient of the IBM Beacon Award for HIPAA Compliant Private Cloud.
We know it’s a big jump to move from managing your own data center to trusting your data, applications and hardware assets to an MSP. You need to do your due diligence, and we’re here to help. At Connectria, we believe no question or concern is too trivial or too complex, so let us hear yours either by reaching out to us directly or adding them to the comment box below.