Evaluating the Cloud Readiness of IBM AS400 and iSeries

About 30 years ago, AS400/iSeries platform was introduced by IBM, and since then, it’s the best choice of midsized companies for their computing needs. Since then, AS400/iSeries has evolved in a big way. With significant evolution in offerings and technological changes, the software was renamed multiple times, like AS400 to iSeries, then System, and now the IBM Power Systems. AS400/iSeries platform has always been ahead in the race in terms of when it came to comparison with other media, in terms of innovation and technologically advanced hosting infrastructure

Many IT professionals still call it AS400, but the latest generation of the IBM AS400/iSeries is far more powerful and more technologically advanced than what AS400 once used to be.

Defining the AS400 System: Key Differentiators

Unique Architecture:

Some of the distinctive features are object-based architecture, Single level storage, and integration of database with OS.

IBM Proprietary Hardware and OS:

A blade server architecture and power-based hardware that can be used for AIX and LINUX.

RISC based processor architecture

No Virus and Hacking:

Till now, no event of virus and hacking has been reported, and such a track record makes it the first choice for organizations to host their mission-critical applications.

OS Integrated Database:

The DB2/400 database runs on AS400. The database features are activated immediately once the OS is installed and tightly integrated with AS400. Apart from DB2, various open-source databases like -MySQL, can be loaded on this server platform.

Storage:

SAN or DASD

AS400/iSeries Applications, Tools, and ISVs

Applications:

JDA, Infor ERPs, JDE, Custom EPR packages, Mapics

Programming languages:

RPG/400, Python, RPGLE, COBOL, JAVA, CLLE, REXX, Node.js, CL

Virtualization:

Power VC and VM.

Popular ISVs:

Vision Solutions, Help/Systems, Soft-landing, and BMC, etc.

Middleware:

MQ Series

Why AS400/iSeries is the Most Eligible for the Cloud Model?

1- Cloud readiness for AS400/i-series is available for years from a technology standpoint

The IBM AS400/iSeries provided a virtualized environment at the hardware layer by introducing the logical partition concept. And, it was much before the x86-based computing environment started adopting the virtualization concept in 1999. The IBM AS400 i-series is the pioneer in introducing virtualization at the server level. However, some industry experts feel that the platform lacks a real business case in terms of hosting in a cloud-like environment.

2- Ensure Data and resources segregation in case of a multi-tenant environment

The data and resources are segregated beyond the operating system layer through the POWER hypervisor and LPAR structure. Moreover, segregation can be achieved this way at the hardware level.

3- Strong support and commitment from IBM AS400 iSeries

Generally, it is to see any MSP provides support for more than five years. But in the case of IBM AS400/iSeries, IBM has shown full commitment towards AS400 and mapped out a roadmap for the future.

With such generous support and roadmap strategy, one will do wonders. Companies do not see the AS400 i-series platform being offered in the mainstream as a primary cloud provider. And most importantly, all the conversations related to cloud stop at one point – “platform is just not supported on the cloud” why?

As an IBM AS400/i-series service provider, at Integrative Systems, we understand that there is no limitation of this platform, and nothing can stop it from being offering cloud services. But still, there are few non-technological challenges that act as barriers for this platform from being available for cloud services.

Major Challenges Preventing the Service Providers from Offering AS400/iSeries on Cloud

1- Difficult Circumstances for Service Providers on Hosting Architecture Selection

The first and top priority challenge for IBM AS400/i-series relates to licensing and maintenance. Licensing and SWMA are directly linked with the hardware ‘Processor Group’ (p05, p10, p20, p30, p50) on which the environment is hosted, as an alternative of the compute capacity that the environment needs.

Furthermore, the cost of the same workload may vary in terms of SWMA and SW license, as per the choice of underlying IBM AS400/iSeries HW model. Subsequently, licensing covers most of the TCO for IBM AS400/i-series environment, and it becomes a primary criterion for selecting AS400/iSeries hosting architecture.

2- Service Providers Trapped in Catch 22 Situation

Catch 22 situation is like, service providers are trapped in difficult circumstances when it comes to IBM AS400/iSeries cloud hosting. If any service provider choose small processor group for hardware, then on-demand computing and scaling become a challenge. However, if the service provider selects the big processor group, then the cost of SW licenses and maintenance will rise. So, there is no real justification for providing Resource Unit (RU)based pricing for customers.

Furthermore, there has always been a great demand in the IBM AS400/iSeries software market to have a cloud model. Due to old and traditional ways of licensing, earlier, no service provider could provide an effective and scalable cloud solution for IBM iSeries. But service providers like Integrative Systems are now capable of providing cloud based AS400/iSeries services.

3- Leveraging Existing License Investments in a Multi-tenant Environment is still a Dream on this platform

Traditionally, the OS licenses for IBM AS400/iSeries have been firmly linked with HW’s serial number. This was acknowledged in the past when IBM servers used to work as a ‘Boxed server.’ However, in the present scenario, when the IBM AS400/iSeries and LPARs share the same HW space and parts with Linux and AIX LPARS, the concept of HW serial number seems outdated. So, technically, not all customers can transfer their operating system license to another serial number.

This is why AS400/iSeries don’t make a good business case for customers as they fear losing their existing investments on OS licenses.

4- Trouble Due to Recent License Transfer Policies by IBM

Some IBM AS400/iSeries field experts found an alternative way to work differently concerning the above-listed problems. They started giving solutions by placing multiple smaller IBM AS400/iSeries servers instead of a big once and began hosting a single customer on each server. However, in March 2017, this model faced a significant setback due to the IBM announcement. The latest upgrade acts as a barrier to transferring the customer’s OS licenses to third party service providers. With this new policy on-board, MSPs can no longer control clients’ investments on unlimited OS licenses. As a result of this, the business case for setting up IBM AS400/iSeries cloud-based hosting becomes more challenging.

Integrative Systems Approach to the Problem

The licensing model on AS400/iSeries platform needs overhauling to make it readily available on the AS400 cloud. However, being a silver business partner of IBM, Integrative Systems has been working closely with the hosting and service models, which solves the computing capacity’s agility and flexibility.

Integrative systems offer flexible services in terms of hosting models and provides complete support 24/7 to the clients worldwide and cater to all the long term and short term requirements of the customers.

With over 20 years of experience in this field, Integrative Systems have some highly experienced iSeries experts on board to solve specific challenges of customers worldwide.

Feel free to share your requirements at contact@integrative-systems.com, and we’ll be happy to help you in the shortest time possible.