Getting ready to move IBM Power workloads to the cloud

As part of cloud and digital transformation initiatives, you may be taking a hard look at how to move your core business applications running on IBM Power Systems to the cloud. There are many reasons to migrate Power workloads to the cloud — improved flexibility and lower risk, cloud-native services that enhance core business applications, and support for agile development and innovation. The cloud’s high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) capabilities also make it easier to ensure business continuity. 

Aside from these benefits, you may be facing withdrawal of support for older Power Systems, which means major capital expenditures in data center upgrades, along with a shrinking talent pool as the people familiar with legacy applications retire.

But moving Power workloads to the cloud has historically meant a Herculean effort of replatforming, rewriting, or refactoring. The time, complexity, and risk involved may have made it  difficult to justify — until now. Skytap, a cloud service available on Microsoft Azure or IBM Cloud, removes these barriers to migration.

Skytap lets you move IBM Power workloads, including IBM i, AIX and/or Linux on Power, to cloud-based Power Systems that run traditional applications much as they do on-premises without rewriting and with minimal changes to the way they are managed, depending on configuration.

Skytap environments replicate on-premises data center environments, including infrastructure, storage, networking, OS, middleware, memory state, and applications. You can migrate complete environments, including VMs and LPARs, network configurations, and business applications, in days or weeks — rather than months or years — depending on workload size. Learn more about how Skytap works here

Planning your Power workload migration

Before undertaking any migration of your Power workloads, you’ll want to consider both your migration goals and methods.

Migration goals should align with business initiatives, such as cloud transformation, data center cost reduction, or business agility improvements. Selecting a use case for Power workloads such as production or DR/HA immediately improves reliability, reduces risk, and forms the foundation for modernization efforts.

Migration methods

The two most common approaches for migrating traditional workloads and applications are cloud native or moving “as-is.”


Cloud native

Until recently, the only way to transfer the functionality of traditional applications into the cloud was to (a) design completely new applications to replace legacy software, or (b) refactor existing components and applications to x86. Either requires significant investments in time and manpower, offsetting anticipating cost savings and injecting high levels of risk. The sheer scope, complexity, and cost involved is why so many core applications remain trapped in the data center.


Move “as-is”

Moving native Power workloads as they exist directly into either Azure or IBM Cloud is a low-risk way to apply the benefits of the cloud to legacy applications, and entire applications can be migrated in a matter of days or weeks. Skytap makes it easy to migrate Power workloads and applications in advance of refactoring or rewriting them, accelerating your migration journey and decreasing risk, migration costs and resources.


Even if your company isn’t yet ready to modernize, using Skytap to move production workloads to the cloud can increase reliability, performance, and resilience, and makes it easy to gradually add features and functionality available from cloud services. 

Making the move

Once you’ve decided to use Skytap, your migration will typically follow these steps:

  1. Assess existing workloads

After establishing your migration goals and a use case, you will need to thoroughly evaluate existing Power-based workloads and identify their requirements, including all relevant business requirements. 

The chart below outlines specific areas you need to consider:

Consideration Category Consideration Type Skytap Support 
On-demand capacity
  Always-on Industry standard SLA and simple, predictable monthly billing
  Bursting Capacity to scale quickly to meet changing demand without incurring exorbitant penalties
  Variable Payment options to smooth out the costs associated with erratic or unpredictable workloads
Pay-as-you-go Reserved capacity

Minimum commitment

Cloud deployment and workload requirements
  Data center regions Data center regions in the US, EMEA, and APAC for global coverage
  Scale Scale up to 16 CPUs and 512 GB of memory in a single LPAR or scale out by adding multiple VMs/LPARs to the same Skytap environment
  Networking Unique support for complex layer 2 and layer 3 networking
  External dependencies Connect to on-premises data centers or colocations using Skytap VPN or Private Network Connection capabilities
  OS Configurations Skytap currently supports AIX 6.1, 7.1 & 7.2

IBM i 7.2, 7.3 & 7.4 (7.1 coming soon)

Linux on Power

Workload sizing and capacity
  Sizing Skytap helps collect CPU, memory, and storage requirements for each LPAR
  Capacity Skytap helps translate existing workload sizing requirements to Skytap capacity requirements. There is normally a significant reduction in concurrently running LPARs using Skytap infrastructure compared to existing infrastructure, eliminating idle resources and over-provisioning.
  1. Ensure license compliance

Ensuring license compliance is critical to governing your organization’s cloud computing costs. Skytap includes AIX and IBM i OS and LPP licenses in two pricing models: hourly and monthly. Optional PowerHA Enterprise Edition and Rational tools add-on licensing packages are also available. Skytap provides support for Oracle licensing by allocating dedicated resources for Oracle workloads. This includes LPARs as well as dedicated server hosts in single-tenant regions based on customer needs for applications running in Skytap. For more information on licensing Oracle in Skytap, read the white paper.


  1. Plan for data migration

Planning for data migration will vary depending on your specific needs. Skytap offers solutions to fit the data volumes you need to move, including transfer via secure FTP, database replication, encrypted physical hard drives, or using IBM Cloud Mass Data Migration for Skytap on IBM Cloud.

  1. Create Skytap environments

Import VMs, vApps, or LPARs. Skytap mirrors your application’s complete, on-premises configuration, allowing it to be migrated without change.


  1. View and work with environments

Environments include everything your application needs, from VMs/LPARs to network and development resources. Once environments are available in Skytap, administrators can:


  • View and manage networks, which are replicated during import. Software-defined networks replicate on-premises topologies down to layers 2 and 3. Configurations can include VPN connections to external clouds or data centers.
  • Save templates. Once environment and network configurations are complete, each can be saved as a single read-only template that can be easily shared and used to clone additional environments.
  • Enable self-service access to templates so users can deploy a new, running environment with a single click.
  • Create a template library of personal, company, or Skytap public templates.
  • Manage access and usage quotas by users, group, or department.
  • Track usage by resource, region, department, groups, or users.
  • Copy templates to other regions with a single click.
  1. Start agile and DevOps initiatives

Skytap supports DevOps and agile initiatives by enabling self-service access to production-ready environments. A Skytap environment encapsulates compute, networking, storage, and software into a single unit of work that can be saved as a template, cloned, and shared in seconds. Teams can encapsulate their entire application in a Skytap environment, including x86 VMs, Power LPARs, and even containers.


This on-demand access eliminates resource constraints, bottlenecks, and configuration drift. As a result, you’ll be able to accelerate release cycles, include more functionality per release, and release higher quality software with less defects in production.


  1. Modernize gradually

Once in Skytap, you can extend the life of your traditional applications by using Skytap environments to improve agility and accelerate modernization. Teams can modernize at their own pace following a phased approach. Skytap’s environments-first infrastructure facilitates modern development processes, enabling more rapid modernization of application architectures and services.

Add cloud value to your Power-based applications

With Skytap, your Power-based applications can be part of your cloud and digital transformation initiatives. Whether you are looking to reduce CAPEX and risk, improve scalability, ensure business continuity, or encourage innovation through agile development and cloud services, Skytap can help you get Power workloads into the cloud without disrupting vital production applications.

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