Advancing your AS/400 or iSeries into the cloud

AS/400 cloud

A growing number of businesses are adopting cloud computing for their operations, but not as many as you might expect. By our estimation, no more than 15% of current IBM Power users have transitioned to the cloud to date. Many have avoided the move as the combination of technology and application is considered legacy.

Businesses still running on an AS/400 or an iSeries server may not even consider they can move to the cloud and onto an IBM i platform. As a leading Managed Service Provider (MSP) for IBM technology, Blue Chip currently hosts around 70% of IBM Power users on the cloud.

We asked our Managing Director Brian Meredith, and iSeries Technical Support Specialist, Graham Emery, to share their thoughts on why confronting and advancing these legacy systems and moving to the cloud is critical when it comes to business enablement.

1. Scalability and cost

Running a data centre on-site requires significant investment in terms of equipment and employee expertise. When you transition to the cloud, you only pay for the services you need and don’t have to worry about upskilling individuals within your IT team.

“In financial terms, you’re moving from a major CapEx to an OpEx,” explains Brian. “If you purchase a new machine for lots of money, it’s larger than you need on day one of owning it because you’re allowing for projected growth.

“After two and a half years—if you’re lucky and the forecasting is right—it’s the machine you need. After that it starts to become too small and after five years you repeat the cycle. When you outsource into a cloud like ours, you get access to exactly what you need on day one.”

2. Flexibility

Agility is a core characteristic of business enablement and cloud services are designed with flexibility in mind. Advancing your AS/400 into the cloud allows you to adapt to situations quickly and operate remotely with minimum or no disruption to your IT.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit much of the world in early 2020, companies have been re-evaluating their way they utilise workspace. Outsourcing your iSeries requirements to an MSP such as Blue Chip means you can reduce your office footprint and invest elsewhere in the business.

3. Enhanced data security

Some people have misconceptions around data security in the cloud. The reality is that cross-contamination remains highly unlikely. However, as Brian points out, “those who are very nervous can always opt for a private cloud environment.”

Although you “lose some of the flexibility” associated with a shared cloud, private clouds can provide business owners with peace of mind. Yet it’s important to remember that a private cloud is more expensive because you don’t share the cost of hardware with others.

Storing data on the cloud is safer than keeping it on servers at your business’s premises where security can be more easily compromised. Blue Chip’s Tier III and Tier IV by design data centres have enhanced security in terms of physical presence and a state-of-the-art firewall.

4. Access to skills

Once a customer has transitioned to the Blue Chip Cloud, we manage all the updates, patching, OS upgrades and performance tuning” explains Graham.

The “managed” aspect of the cloud is one of the biggest incentives; entrusting your system to professionals who live and breathe IBM technology and business enablement through IT.

“AS/400 started life in 1988, so the skills and expertise needed to run and maintain it are becoming much rarer” adds Brian. “Then there’s all the systems that are connected to it. In other words, you require a certain skill for half a day a month, another for three hours and so on. It becomes very expensive and convoluted.

“As an organisation, Blue Chip has access to all of the skills needed to run and maintain an IBM Power System 24/7.”

5. Disaster recovery, transitioning and testing

Among many other areas, Graham specialises in Disaster Recovery. He explains that the DR cloud his team uses is like a test bed, providing the customer with the “opportunity to test that applications are supported at a high OS level, to make sure everything works and to troubleshoot any issues before the migration.”

Blue Chip has recently used these skills to advance an AS/400 at V3R2 OS/400 to a cloud-ready OS version, to utilise an up-to-date IBM i cloud platform.

Next steps

“We saw an influx of businesses transitioning to the cloud between 2015 and 2017,” says Graham. “However not all of these started as a ‘transition’. In fact, many simply wanted a bigger and better system, at which point we offered them the option to move to our cloud.”

Blue Chip is already seeing another influx driven by the need to remove the risk of running systems in-house.

If you’re looking for something “bigger and better”, advancing your AS/400 or iSeries into the cloud is a smart move. To find out more, start a conversation with one of our specialists.

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