What’s your IBM i business continuity plan for COVID-19?

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Blue Chip Blog
13 Mar 2020
What’s your IBM i business continuity plan for COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly causing changes to business, globally. Large scale events, including industry events like IBM Think, have been cancelled in wake of the pandemic.

Many of our customers have reached out to us over the last week to see how we can help them with these challenges. Blue Chip has been supporting clients during extreme circumstances for many years. Hardware failures and disaster recovery requirements are our day to day business, so these situations are something we know how to manage.

As a Disaster Recovery (DR) provider we have seen how businesses have been looking to DR to address the potential need to utilise continuity contracts for office space, should they be denied access to their own offices for any number of reasons during the pandemic. However, traditional DR contracts cover office space and failure of hardware, but don’t replace operational skills.

An example that’s relatable to many of our customers, is the running of the IBM i operating system. IBM i, still often referred to as i5/OS or AS/400, running on IBM Power hardware, is deservedly prolific in every industry.

For over 30 years the platform has developed with many organisations, and often the operational teams and skilled people that know the system, is small. These IBM i systems often deliver the most critical parts of our customers’ businesses, and at a time where there are unprecedented challenges, no one can afford to stop production or other operational activities.

Beyond the operational risk to an organisation using IBM i, presented by losing staff for a prolonged period, there is also the challenge of backing up. Most IBM i systems still utilise traditional LTO tape drive backups. These require physical interaction to swap tapes and move them into storage on a daily or at least weekly basis. If you don’t have access to the system or the staff to change the tapes that can present a big risk for your organisation.

We already manage over 360 IBM i logical partitions (LPARs) across all industries, both in our cloud and remotely. It’s possible to setup remote support for our clients using IBM i very quickly, removing the risk of losing operational staff and the impact this could have on daily operations.

As a business, we have also converted all the IBM i systems within our managed services to VTL. This can run independently without the need of operator intervention and can automatically send the encrypted data off site to remove the need for tape collections. This offsite copy can be at a customer’s secondary site or within our Tier III data centre.

Blue Chip is here to help remove the risk of downtime for our customers but also to respond and support when our customer needs us. If you feel that your organisation can benefit from a conversation with us on how we can help during the current pandemic, and if it escalates, please contact us here

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This article was written by Gerry Johnstone.

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