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IBM i Power: Digital Transformation to Power Cloud

Digital transformation is critical for businesses to stay afloat these days, and the IBM i community is turning to cloud services for help. The growth we’ve seen in the last two to three years here at LightEdge has been in the countless inquiries for IBM i or AIX cloud hosting from organizations spanning all industry verticals. Migration to public or hybrid cloud providers has also seen a major increase, and Microsoft and Linux workloads are reaching an all-time high. For those companies that are still needing to maintain legacy applications, the migration to the cloud has seemed unattainable.

The number of cloud service providers for IBM i or AIX are limited in quantity and many lack the ability to provide enterprise quality of services. Take the services you would expect from the traditional x86 cloud providers like AWS or Azure as a prime example. Fortunately, LightEdge is one of the few cloud service providers for IBM i and AIX that can deliver cloud hosting for Microsoft, Linux, IBM i, AIX, zOS with onramps to the public cloud providers.

LightEdge’s Power Cloud is opening doors, so companies do not have to close theirs.

In this blog, I will cover the main drivers for IBM i cloud services and how digital transformation is possible in the IBM i community. If you have not read my previous blog on the history of IBM AS/400 and how it became IBM i Power, you can do so here.

Main Drivers for IBM i Cloud Services

So, what is motivating this inquiry for cloud services from the IBM i community? In my opinion there are several driving factors why companies are reaching out to us:

  • There is a lack of IBM i or AIX skillsets to manage the IBM hardware and operating systems. The people who have managed IBM i are slowing starting to come into the retirement stage.
  • Customer or business access to applications has moved away from the traditional business operating hours and is now expected 24x7x365.
  • Businesses much adhere to more stringent compliance regulations or are having to become compliant due to changes in their industry.
  • The business demands are changing too rapidly for an IT team to accommodate with additional systems resources.
  • The migration strategy is to move away from IBM i, and companies are not wanting to refresh their existing hardware.
  • Digital Transformation is being levied from the top of the organization to the IT team.

Organizations who have relied on IBM i to run their core applications have enjoyed the benefits of lower administration costs, the stellar uptime, security and performance, and lower total cost of ownership for database services compared to x86 workloads.

Lack of Essential Talent

It is not unusual to meet IBM i administrators who have a long tenure with the company. Yet as these people retire, it is becoming increasingly hard to find IBM i administrators to manage and maintain the company’s IBM Power systems. In addition, with business operations moving towards the expected 24x7x365 availability, current administrators are feeling overwhelmed. Many feel as though they cannot keep up with being available 24x7x365. Nor to do they want to be.

Increasing Need for Compliance and Security

Regulatory Compliance is the new topic in all of our meetings with customers. Organizations are being mandated to prove they have the proper controls, process, procedures, and management in place to address the ever-changing landscape, so that necessary governance requirements can be met.

Adherence with compliance standards such as, HIPAA, PCI DSS, SSAE 18,  ISO 20000-1, ISO 27001 is becoming increasingly challenging for companies that do not have a dedicated compliance and security team. Many of these security and compliance resources are required to stay abreast of the changes these days.

Transfer of Responsibility

Many of our customers have decided to transfer the compliance responsibilities over to LightEdge by leveraging our compliant data centers and cloud platforms to reduce the risk of liability to their organization.

LightEdge owns and maintains all of our seven data centers across the country. We also own and operate our cloud platforms. These compliant services simplify our ability to adhere and meet rigid compliance and security standards for our customers. If you are vetting new cloud service providers, inquire how they will secure your systems and data if they are a tenant in someone else’s data center.

The Industry is Moving Full Speed Ahead

We continue to see companies who used to be at the top of their industry sector, now filing for bankruptcy or closing permanently after being in business for over 30 years. In today’s unstable economy, companies are having to make changes to the way they do business – more rapidly than ever before.

As a former CIO, I used to have a three and five-year strategic business plan for technology acquisition. Organizations in today’s market have to be able to execute on technology changes to meet business demands in days, weeks or a month. Having a padded six months to execute a technology acquisition is completely out of the question for companies that are operating on a high volume and low margin business model.

Some companies are still getting multiple quotes, taking the quotes back to a committee for review, and then going back to their hardware and software vendor for price negotiations. Then it is another month of executing on the contract. This still does not account the amount of time waiting for the product to arrive and the implementation or migration to new hardware. There may be a couple month lapse in time from when the business requested improvements from IT to when IT can actually deliver the services.

This time lag allowed competitors to surpass businesses on delivering new functionality or products to their consumers. This is why we are seeing mainstream companies who have been around forever, closing their business or downsizing locations in order to stay financially sound. This scenario is why digital transformation has become the latest buzzword in corporate boardrooms across the globe.

Digitally Transform or Be Left Behind

Is digital transformation a buzzword? Countless articles on the internet explain what it is, but the most insightful way to think about this came at a conference in Huntington Beach in December. The speaker Chris Surdak, who’s topic was Stop Chasing Horses, Start Building Fences: How Real-Time Technologies Change the Game of Compliance and Governance provided an astute explanation of why companies are digitally transforming.

In today’s global economy, companies are consistently trying to drive more business than the competitor. If they do not, their company joins the ever-growing list of organizations that are closing their doors. Digital transformation comes into two buckets, I am either optimizing or innovating my business.

Let us address the first one. Optimizing. Companies that are looking to optimize typically look to improve their overall business by taking what they currently have and making it more robust, secure, fast, and resilient. Companies that are looking to innovate are going to build new applications or services while maintaining what they currently have to keep the business moving forward.

Regardless if your company is optimizing or innovating, the goal is to increase revenue. Whether this is through the same customer base or is by attracting new customers through better interfaces leveraging how we as consumers use technology through web, social media, wearable technology, smart phones, tablets, and even smart TV’s. The end goal is no different for IBM i shops vs. Microsoft shops, however the perception that IBM i is a closed archaic technology needs to be dismissed.

IBM i is Here to Stay

The IBM i community of solution providers are feverishly trying to educate that IBM i is still viable and is able to propel businesses for years to come. Looking at companies like Fresche Solutions and KrengelTech are showing customers that RPG and COBOL is not the only development language applicable to IBM i.

Companies that fine-tuned their business operations back in the early 2000’s doing process improvement projects, tailored the applications operating on IBM i to coincide with how their business should operate. A great example is the manufacturing industry.

These are companies who have their core application and their manufacturing line in perfect synchronization to maximize the greatest profitability while exceeding quality of products but decreasing the amount of time spent on making it. These companies may choose to digitally transform in order to optimize and not innovate as part of their cloud strategy.

It is the old adage “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Instead of spending millions of dollars converting to a new Enterprise Resource Plan (ERP) and having to readdress their processes to meet the limitations of the ERP, companies are looking to LightEdge. LightEdge can manage and maintain a company’s existing IBM i system or migrate them to our cloud platform.

This allows their organization to continue to operate on the existing applications. They do not need to deal with the hardware, and they can offload operating system management and maintenance to LightEdge’s IBM i team of professionals.

For those companies that have decided it is necessary to build new, LightEdge can deliver new IBM i LPARs or the customer can have access to our other cloud platforms that support x86 servers. If need be, we provide onramps to Public Cloud providers from all of our data centers. Our ability to provide LPARs for the current system while the customers is building the new environment within our data centers, provides better integration from old to new as the customer is making the transition.

What Makes LightEdge Different?

Customers always ask me “what makes LightEdge different?” Our response is that LightEdge has been in business for 20+ years as a service provider. We own and operate all our data centers, and have architected them in such a manner that customer can choose where it makes sense to operate their workload.

We have made our share of mistakes over time, but adjust our processes and management to become better and not repeat the mistakes of the past. We are not the new kid on the block that is trying to be a cloud service provider. We are the compliant service provider. Our current customers value our architecture and how we manage and maintain our compliant cloud and colocation facilities. We do this to keep customers’ workloads operational 24x7x365 and meet their expectations for performance.

Digitally Transform with LightEdge

As a certified IBM partner, LightEdge takes IBM’s standard of impeccable service delivery as seriously as they do with a variety of offerings for companies large and small in our highly-interconnected data centers.

LightEdge has a dedicated team of IBM experts on staff with a combined 120 years of experience working with IBM i (AS/400 / iSeries), AIX, mainframe environments, and dedicated disaster recovery solutions. Through this team, we have introduced a suite of IBM i on Power solutions that offer clients the same security and reliability they depend on with their AS/400 / iSeries and AIX environments in a flexible, redundant, and cost-effective cloud model.

For those wanting access to the latest mainframe for their mission-critical workloads running in the cloud, we have solutions for that too. Companies turn to LightEdge to help with their hosting needs because we can reduce operational expenses and strain on internal staff. We do this all while giving you the flexibility to meet your business’s growing infrastructure demands in a secure, IBM certified environment.

Our Power Cloud is specialized solutions to ensure the stability and evolution of your IBM i (AS/400 / iSeries) or AIX environments, including: Hosted LPARs, Data Protection, IBM i Recovery Cloud and IBM i Premium Recovery Cloud. You can gain access to the latest mainframe technology in a secure, multi-tenant model that allows you to scale computing resources, storage and networking as your business demands change.

As a top-tier colocation services provider, we provide a high level of availability and reliability through secure, certified data centers and dedicated staff onsite. Our customized and scalable services give you the control, whether you need a colocation rack, cage or custom suite now or in the future. Get started today with a free quote from one of our cloud specialists.

If you need help getting started, contact one of our IBM i experts to get started or to schedule your private tour of any of our seven concurrently maintainable data centers in Des Moines, IA, Kansas City, MO, Omaha, NE, Austin, TX, or Raleigh, NC. We have security, compliance, and cloud experts standing by to answer any of your questions.

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