Why AIX Is Moving to the Cloud

One reason that traditional applications have largely remained on-premises, while greenfield applications continue to be migrated to, and born in the cloud, is the technology they’ve run on for decades is tried and true. These applications continue to provide core business functionality that cannot be disrupted, and other public cloud providers have ignored this fact. Few enterprises can justify the increased risk, costs, and months of time spent rewriting and/or heavily refactoring their most mission-critical applications to get them into the cloud.

But as new options arise that eliminate the need to abandon years of investments in the applications at the heart of their business, enterprises are now beginning to look toward the cloud for new opportunities to drive increased revenue and agility.

Let’s take a look at what changed to bring traditional applications running on AIX to the forefront of modern cloud roadmaps.

Not all clouds were built the same

While the usual big players in today’s market continue to duke it out for cloud supremacy, there’s a sizeable groundswell of support for using the right cloud for the right job. Gartner VP and analyst, Lydia Leong, recently commented on the growing attention being paid not to the typical large public clouds, but to smaller “niche” providers. Says Leong:

“It’s not so much there are new niche vendors, it’s that the niche vendors continue to survive, even in the face of significant consolidation around just a few vendors.”

AIX Environments
Combine as many x86 VMs, Power LPARs, and networks as needed in Skytap Cloud environments

Leong names Skytap as proof of this evolution in the market, citing the ability to replicate “complex enterprise data center” environments in Skytap Cloud. As the only public cloud with a PowerVM hypervisor integration, Skytap Cloud is the only public cloud that can rapidly migrate AIX workloads running on IBM Power Systems. These workloads can then run alongside Linux, Solaris, and Windows running on x86 in the same environment, and then be saved as a template, cloned, and instantly shared with other stakeholders.  

Waning AIX expertise

As traditional applications, like those running on AIX increase in age, so do the experts who built them and who have supported them for so long. Enterprises will continue to invest in these applications to keep them running, but those that own their maintenance and support will eventually retire. This creates a skills gap the the potential for serious implications. Newer, younger engineering teams are learning modern technologies and practices that can’t often be seamlessly applied to older technologies. AIX is certainly still prevalent in many enterprises around the globe today, but the numbers of who can claim expertise around this technology, outside of IBM, is shrinking.

By taking advantage of Skytap’s close partnership with IBM, our own engineering team was able to leverage IBM’s engineers’ expertise around AIX and PowerVM. Skytap developers have collaborated with IBM engineers and offering managers over the last year, and, in turn, have provided valuable direction back to IBM on functionality and feature requirements. Skytap has also worked closely with IBM’s Power Systems team in order to continue to support our customers’ unique hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures.

Abandoning the status quo

TechTarget’s Eric Scannell called out the difficulty and expense to get legacy applications into the cloud, and a lack of AIX expertise as the reason these apps have largely remained on-premises—as we’ve done here. But he also blames “the old favorite, inertia driven by the maxim: ‘Why fix it if it ain’t broke?’”

In this day and age, many feel that bimodal IT should only differentiate between workloads that are developed fast and those that are developed faster, and the highest-performing organizations view anything slow as hardly better than “broke.” Traditional applications at the heart of enterprises, like those running on AIX, are depended on far too heavily to allow them to slow down innovation, especially when the cloud now offers innovation at scale that datacenters may struggle to match.

Learn more about how Skytap Cloud enables enterprises to migrate AIX workloads to the cloud unchanged, so teams can scale agile development and test blended workloads end-to-end.

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