Skytap SVP of Product Dan Jones and VP of Customer Operations Darren Stagnaro recently spoke at a Cloud Migration Myths and Facts webinar hosted by Global IT Client Executive Kathleen Simard.
I attended as a good way to double-check my gut on the topic and there were a few items that I had misconceptions on. It was helpful to understand the reasons behind my misconceptions and it was clear that other attendees also had a few of these same misconceptions, as the webinar featured audience live polling for each presented cloud migration myth or fact. Here’s a quick review of some of the myths and facts discussed.
Myth or Fact #1: Moving to the cloud will save you money
The audience was split here 50/50, and with good reason. There has been a lot of talk from the cloud industry over the years about how the cloud will save you money, but this one was a myth. A potentially non-intuitive answer coming from a cloud infrastructure service provider, but the reality is that while you will be saving money on the physical device costs such as hardware purchases, physical maintenance of the devices as well as hardware upgrades in addition to the data center hosting fees (power\cooling\storage), there are still costs involved in the cloud hosting, as well as the migration to the cloud.
That said, it’s a better money investment – now you have the ability to better right-size your LPARs to fit your workloads, and that can scale up to meet peak demands and scale down in the lulls – instead of having to design and deploy your LPARs for peak only – allowing you to be more cost-effective in a ‘Pay as you go’ (PayGo) model.
The other advantage from a cost perspective is that once your LPARs are cloud-hosted, you can start to leverage cloud-native solutions that allow your IBM i workloads to be de-siloed. So while you might not see cost savings, you do end up seeing better cost benefits.
Myth or Fact #2: You must refactor applications to move them to the cloud
When this one was presented, I was pleasantly surprised at the audience’s choice, as this was also a Myth. Two-thirds majority of the audience already understood that with today’s approaches to migrating IBM Power workloads to the cloud these workloads can be migrated without refactoring the applications. Although it should be noted that there is some minimum required IBM i OS versions/TLs required.
These workloads are then able to move “as-is” in a “like for like” scenario in the cloud. Once these workloads have been moved, it allows admins and end-users to refactor and do some effective application tuning at their own pace – resulting in a cleaner and more performant environment.
Myth or Fact #3: You’ll need all new tooling once you are in the cloud
I was very surprised at how well the audience was aware (with an 86% majority) of the Myth that you would need to have all new tooling once you’ve migrated your IBM i workloads to the cloud. I previously would have been in the minority here, but I recently had the opportunity to attend Dan Jones’s COMMON PowerUp 2021 – Optimize your toolchain session where he provided some great guidance and patterns on your toolchains when you move to the cloud.
With these toolchain patterns, you have a good opportunity to audit your existing tooling and identify if some of these tools are still required, and what new tooling is unlocked post-migration.
It should be noted that it is important to consider your licensing and as you should speak to your tooling and cloud partners and solutions providers about what your options might be in regards to portable licenses or the availability to ‘trade-in’ your existing licenses.
Myth or Fact #4: Your IBM i Admins\Devs will need to be retrained (retained) once you are in the cloud
This one was interesting, as the presenter mistakenly re-worded this one to be “retained” instead of “retrained”, and it was an interesting slip, as there is a lot of concern in the industry from the Admins and Devs working with IBM i that moving to the cloud would make them obsolete, or that the training would be far outside their existing skillset. This question I felt was one of the more interesting talking points.
With a solid two-thirds majority viewing this correctly as a Myth, it was good to reaffirm that post-migration these systems still need to be managed – OS Patching, Application tuning, etc. It also allows these existing IBM i Admins and Developers to focus on the parts of their roles that they truly enjoy and what they were hired to do, and not have to think or worry about the more tedious things that they would otherwise have to deal with – hardware maintenance, network operations, and server refreshes. This creates the opportunity to create better operational efficiencies by simplifying, standardizing and consolidating these workstreams.
It also opens the door to take advantage of the many new cloud-native services and technologies – allowing the Admins and Developers to expand on their existing skillsets, while still keeping workloads on IBM i, getting comfortable with newer cloud concepts allowing the Admins and Developers to leave a better legacy behind, and enabling the business to continue the leverage that investment on IBM Power.
Myth or Fact #5: Moving to the cloud is hard
Another great surprise to me was when the audience gave another solid two-thirds correct assessment that moving to the cloud is hard as a Myth. I say that it was a surprise to me, as I have often heard that IBM i workloads are natively cloud-stubborn. Meaning that the end-users view the workloads as troublesome to move to the cloud – and it is encouraging to see that the word is getting out that these workloads are less stubborn than they appear.
I think it’s important to note here that it is true, there is no magic button and it takes planning, patience and a solid understanding of your application requirements. Start with the Power Discovery process to better understand how deep the roots of your workloads go and what they are connected to. It’s also key to understand what the appropriate method of migration for each workload is – is it Backup/Restore, or is it an LPAR capture, or something else. Reaching out to your cloud technology partners and solutions providers on getting the right assessment is critical and will save you time, effort and downtime.
It is also important to start small – start with a non-production workload, or smaller LPAR to build cloud confidence. And perhaps start with disaster recovery (DR) as a first pass at those more critical production-level workloads. This lets you dip the toe in the water in a cost-effective and safe solution.
It was encouraging to me to see that IBM i Admins and Developers are thinking about cloud modernization and that many of them are now educated on the realities of cloud migrations with IBM i. I recommend watching the session for yourself as the Q & A at the end had some really interesting questions, and some great responses, with great insights on the tooling and technologies available.
Link to video: