This is a question we constantly ask ourselves at Skytap. Our specialty is providing a platform for Azure customers to host workloads within Azure’s data centers that otherwise wouldn’t run on Azure hardware. The most common operating systems that I speak to customers about as a Cloud Solutions Architect here at Skytap are AIX and IBM i (AS/400). This is because Skytap has made IBM Power hardware available within Azure’s physical data centers in a way that is consumable for existing Azure customers.
If the terms above mean nothing to you, feel free to do a quick Google search (or don’t), enjoy a sense of relief that this falls into the category of not your problem, and carry on with your day without worrying about the legacy applications that continue to be a pillar of modern business IT. You can skip to the github repo with the template to deploy a Skytap environment and connect it to Azure ExpressRoutes via the Skytap API if you’re interested.
If you are familiar with IBM Power workloads, then you likely understand that there are certain challenges that arise when the inevitable “cloud journey” comes around for these business-critical workloads. When I’m working with customers as they move AIX and IBM i applications to Skytap on Azure, the discussion context must constantly switch back and forth between the world of “cloud” and “IBM systems.” Of course, there is an intersection between the two and that is Skytap’s focus. Yet, the idea of migrating these workloads to Skytap can be seen as complex and daunting, which can hinder customers from making the best decision for their business. The Azure or cloud-ops side of the business feels intimidated by the IBM world, and the AIX and IBM i admins and developers feel the same way about the cloud world. Thus, the problem of migrating these workloads to Azure seems big and unfamiliar. Like a marathon in which you don’t know how to take the first step.
In the end, when an Azure customer is forced to do something with these IBM workloads due to a compelling event (i.e. IBM Power facing end-of-life or a data center closure), it might just stay on premises and get the shiny new IBM Power hardware (and the large capital expenditure that comes with it) or it might end up paying a large service provider to host the workload(s) in a co-lo. Maybe these could both be the right decision. But what if fear of the unknown stifled curiosity about moving these workloads to Azure, and therefore stifled the creativity, innovation, and other business benefits that would have been realized by getting these AIX and IBM i applications into the cloud along with everything else?
So how do you take the first step? I spend a lot of time with customers doing discovery, sizing and requirement gathering, enabling them on how to run AIX and IBM i workloads on Skytap, and all the features of the platform. However, scheduling a meeting to discuss doing so can be a barrier itself.
In the spirit of accelerating time to value and lowering barriers, we created this simple template API script that can be used to create a Skytap environment running a template AIX or IBM i LPAR, add additional servers necessary for migration (NIM for AIX or NFS for IBM i) to that environment, and then connect that environment to an Azure ExpressRoute connection.
While the template can actually be used to deploy everything described above to Skytap on Azure, ready for IBM operating systems and data to be moved to, my hope is that it illustrates how simple it is to create the environment on Azure that can natively run specialized legacy workloads. Any migration to the cloud comes with complexities and challenges, but as a customer you should feel empowered to take the first step and know that from there we are here to support you along the way.
Contact us here for support or for more information about starting your cloud journey today.
Meet the author:
Sarah Allen– Cloud Solutions Architect at Skytap