The Shortcut to the Cloud for Your IBM AIX and IBM i LPARs

You’ve decided to move your IBM Power resources to the cloud, congratulations! You made that decision because you recognize the benefits that the cloud provides to legacy systems. One of these three reasons probably motivated you to make that decision:

1) You are moving other non-Power systems based on x86 to the cloud, so it makes sense to also move the Power resources to the cloud, even though you have no short-term plans to re-factor or re-write any of the Power applications. You want to do a pure “lift and shift” of the Power systems without making any significant application changes.

2) You plan on refactoring legacy systems to cloud-native, so by having the Power infrastructure in the cloud as well, you can perform a “phased migration” and slowly shift to a cloud-native approach. This type of plan takes time, so having everything in the same cloud, there will be low latency while the two worlds still need to talk to each other.

3) Your organization is exiting the Data Center, so you need to move the IBM Power resources “somewhere”. Instead of renting floor space at a colo, and having to still manage the environment and hardware, moving to the cloud provides a simplification of your current IT management.

Whatever the reason, you will be quickly confronted with this question:

How do I migrate all of my existing IBM Power LPARs to the cloud?

Without revealing the possible “shortcut” just yet, most technical people would think of using traditional system management methods for a possible migration of Power LPARs to the cloud. This might include using a backup/restore process, or maybe some type of replication technology. Since the LPARs running in the cloud will look and behave just like LPARs running on-prem, either of those ideas will work. The only downside is that both the backup/restore method and replication method are technically involved. Though 100% possible and plausible, it will take some effort to organize and orchestrate this type of approach for your inventory of LPARs.

The shortcut

Instead of using the traditional backup/restore method, or the replication method, there is another possibility. IBM has an LPAR management tool called “PowerVC“. Though you might not need or want to use all of the functionality that PowerVC provides, it does have one feature that provides “the shortcut”. 

Within PowerVC you can “export” an LPAR image into an industry-standard format called Open Virtual Appliance, aka, the “OVA” file. Once exported into a single OVA file, it can easily be moved to another system and then imported.

Skytap has a built-in OVA import facility. You upload the OVA file and behind the scenes, Skytap will rebuild the LPAR from the contents in the file. This means that importing your LPAR can be completed in just two steps: Export the LPAR using PowerVC, and then Import the OVA right from the Skytap portal.

Using PowerVC you can select to either export the boot disk of either IBM i or AIX, or export all the LUNs assigned to that LPAR.

The first response from any reasonable technical person would be: “That won’t work, we have LPARs that are multiple terabytes in size…..”

That could be true, but by using PowerVC you might more easily get the core LPAR up and running and then use simple file transfer techniques for the data on the other LUNs beyond the boot drive. This could be less complicated than using the backup/restore method, or the replication method. In addition, if your LPARs are “smaller” in size, perhaps a few terabytes or smaller, then the PowerVC method, could be the cut-short to make your migration easier.

If you are interested in a deeper technical dive, below is a link to the background on PowerVC along with a description of the installation process.

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