One customer’s IBM Power Systems journey to the cloud

Placing IBM Power Systems in the cloud

Blue Chip currently supports critical infrastructure for approximately 800 organisations operating across various verticals. About 150 of these are customers of managed services, which includes cloud services. The average amount of time a customer stays with Blue Chip is around ten and a half years.

Well before the revolution of cloud computing, Blue Chip’s has supplied hardware maintenance support to companies since 1987. The longevity of Blue Chip’s customer relationships can be attributed to its customer-centric approach to business enablement.

Always putting the customer first

“We do everything with the customer in mind,” says Blue Chip Account Director James King, who has worked within the company for 18 years.

He explains that the team always considers things from the customer’s perspective. This allows them to develop customised products and services that will enable the customer to overcome specific challenges and leverage opportunities.

The measure of true customer service, according to James, revealed in how a business reacts and performs when things aren’t going quite so well.

Bearing in mind that Blue Chip has been in the managed services space for 34 years, the company has naturally learnt a lot about mitigating challenges.

Being a veteran – as well as an innovator – in the industry means Blue Chip’s engineers know how to fix older systems and are adept at transitioning them into the cloud as seamlessly as possible, often coming up with creative solutions.

For many, transitioning into the cloud requires a real leap of faith. Blue Chip’s speciality is taking IBM Power Systems into the cloud, such as IBM i and AIX environments. Of course, other operating systems and hardware can also be transitioned, thanks to the wide expertise and resources on offer.

“Customers need to know that their data is secure and protected. We’re GDPR compliant, have ISO 27001 certifications and PCI DSS Level 1 – as well as SOC 2 certification. We help clients reduce business risk and make audits & compliance easier.”

A journey to Blue Chip’s IBM Power Systems cloud

One of Blue Chip’s customers is a convenience shop chain with over 1,400 stores in the UK. Blue Chip began providing traditional ‘break-fix’ hardware maintenance for them in 2000 on AS/400 and iSeries hardware. James explains that Blue Chip realised it needed to react quickly’ as a business and make sure “we had the parts we needed to deliver on promises”.

A few years later, the retailer became a Disaster Recovery (DR) customer.

“In the event of a localised outage or a disaster, depending on the specifics, we’re responsible for getting their core systems and business processes operational.”

“But the added value that we provide is that if there’s a hardware failure, we can get an engineer onto site straight away to carry out disaster recovery processes.”

The convenience shop chain runs its core system on IBM i and has over 80 virtual machines as its IT estate. Blue Chip’s IBM Power Systems cloud – the largest of its kind in Europe – has a vital role to play here.

They suffered a serious outage when their hardware was located in their own data centre and Blue Chip was able to execute a robust disaster recovery process to get them back on track quickly.

Cutting corners with our IBM Power cloud

Nowadays, many organisations simply can’t afford to wait 24 to 72 hours for tape recovery, which is where cloud backup comes in.

“Effectively, the customers still run the infrastructure on their site, replicating data in either real-time or very near real-time back to Blue Chip.”

“This means in the event of an outage or hardware failure; we could recover those systems within four hours to 24. We can make their infrastructure available, allowing the business to function and continue to serve its customers.”

Ultimately, the client moved all their IT infrastructure into Blue Chip Cloud. It’s said that 73% of cloud migrations take more than a year to deliver. We were able to migrate this client and for them to be running live within 6 months in 2020. Our client was able to reduce application downtime and deliver faster outcomes for their business.

Conduit between the customer and Blue Chip

Service Delivery Managers are “the voice of the customer within Blue Chip”, explains Service Delivery Manager Charlotte Stanford. “We build relationships with our customers on a daily basis. We listen attentively to what they’re saying.”

SDMs help ‘solutionise’ any challenges the customer is facing, and they deliver regular service reviews to keep the customers updated with what’s happening within Blue Chip.

“We see ourselves as an extension to the customer’s IT team. We are one of them and they are one of us. If there is an explanation missing, we’re the ones who provide the trustworthy information. Some of our customers are very technical whereas some aren’t. We act as a translator to make sure they understand everything.”

The role also involves identifying ways to improve the customer’s business from an IT perspective – improvements that will benefit the customer’s own stakeholders.

Moving to a cloud-first mindset

According to James, there’s been an almost relentless move to the cloud in recent years. Organisations move to the cloud for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a business change or a skills shortage within the business acts as the catalyst, particularly if they see the platform as legacy. They need experts to help them continue to use the platforms.

This customer example already spans over ten years and they have now made a commitment for a further five years. The story is one of partnership and trust. Working together, we were able to show our expertise and earn the right to increase the quantity of services we deliver to them eventually culminating in delivering everything from Blue Chip Cloud.

“We’re seeing lots of customers who have decided that they don’t want to tie their money up in capital by buying and owning infrastructure. Instead, they’d rather take it as a service and pay for what they use when they need it.”

Companies reduce their risk of application downtime by utilising the resilience and guaranteed availability of Blue Chip Cloud. The financial advantage is clear – businesses no longer need to commit to huge expenditure for on-premise IT infrastructure and they can accelerate growth through the many benefits of Blue Chip’s offering.

Put simply, cloud enables businesses to do things quicker and at a more competitive rate. It’s also about freeing up people’s time to focus on other areas with the aim of driving the business forwards. As Blue Chip’s Sales & Marketing Director, Chris Smith concludes:

“If you’re focusing on how you’re doing your backups and managing your hardware maintenance vendor, you’re not driving your business forwards. You’re spending your time keeping your business operational.”

The IBM Power cloud based at Blue Chip’s data centres is huge, containing over 150 IBM Power Systems and more than 1,200 IBM POWER cores, which deliver 5 million CPW for IBM i workloads, plus hundreds of cores devoted to IBM AIX. It’s probably the largest cloud of its kind in the world, making Blue Chip one of the few managed services and cloud providers to deliver these IBM platforms alongside thousands of Windows and Linux workloads on Intel x86 architecture. Your environments are placed in expert hands, leaving you to fully focus on your business application outcomes.

Let Blue Chip take care of your IBM cloud requirements. Get in touch with the team to find out more.

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