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Cloud Hosting, Managed Services

IBM Private Cloud: Weighing Your Options

October 17, 2018

IBM Private CloudOrganizations that run SAP on IBM iSeries (AS/400) have long benefited from the platform’s stability and performance. Yet, your ERP requirements continue to evolve as the iSeries ages and becomes costlier to maintain on-premises. New IBM private cloud options have emerged to address this challenge. With a Managed Service Provider (MSP), you can preserve the continuity of iSeries for SAP, but with a third party doing the heavy lifting of running iSeries in a private cloud environment.

SAP on iSeries: A Long, Auspicious Relationship

The IBM iSeries, previously known as the AS/400, quickly became one of the world’s most popular business computing platforms when it debuted in 1988. Its install based exceeded 100,000. Belonging to the “midrange” or minicomputer class, the iSeries offered businesses an affordable alternative to the dominant mainframes of the era. It runs AIX, a proprietary variant of the Unix operating systems.

SAP has enjoyed a long, auspicious relationship with iSeries. Many of SAP’s small-to-midsized business (SMB) customers run SAP on iSeries. Large enterprises rely on it for their SAP landscapes as well. They have good reasons. iSeries is famous for its stability, reliability and high performance. It also features backward compatibility that favors the kind of long-term investments in ERP that SAP customers prefer. Indeed, SAP was founded by former IBM’ers in 1972. The SAP-iSeries connection is a natural fit.

The Migration Decision

What you should do with your SAP on iSeries? One very appealing answer is “nothing.” The landscape is very much alive and supported worldwide. If you run SAP on iSeries on-premises, you can continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

At the same time, a lot of organizations are starting to take a look at their options for what comes after iSeries on-premises. There are two basic problems that affect the long-term viability of iSeries on-premises:

  • A looming skills shortage—iSeries staff are starting to retire. Few in the up-and-coming generation of IT professionals are making the investment in learning AIX and SAP on iSeries. It’s probable that staffing to support an SAP landscape on iSeries will grow more challenging and costly in coming years.
  • New, cloud-centric requirements—Enterprise architecture increasingly calls for SAP landscapes to integrate across multiple clouds as well as with other applications. This is of course possible for iSeries on-premises, but it may require the costs of adding middleware that then needs maintenance, patching and so forth.

Migrating off of iSeries completely is an option, but one that some SAP administrators are justifiably circumspect about. For one thing, it can take a lot of standard hardware (e.g. Dell or HPE rack servers) to replace a single iSeries machine. This creates CapEx and increased OpEx for data center space. Then, there’s the software itself. If you’ve been running SAP on iSeries for a decade or more, you’re going to find more than a few little “gotchas” when migrating to a X86 platform.  You can overcome these challenges, but there will be costs and delays.

SAP Advantages in an IBM Private Cloud

We have long been able to host SAP on our iSeries private cloud platform. This proven approach preserves the advantages of SAP on iSeries while reducing many of the constraints and costs of continuing to run it in on-premises. You can leverage our IBM-powered private cloud for its flexibility, scalability and affordability. By utilizing an iSeries cloud hosting environment, you build nimbler, more agile IT department. Benefits include:

  • More business agility and resulting competitive advantage
  • Reduced OpEx and CapEx
  • Fewer iSeries staffing challenges
  • None of challenges of migrating SAP off iSeries
  • Streamlined change control processes
  • Ability to scale environments on demand
  • Reduced complexity in the overall IT environment

The Role of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) in iSeries Cloud Hosting

Symmetry offers an IBM private cloud hosting service for SAP iSeries instances. We provide high-performing, dynamic cloud environment with enterprise-grade architecture and security. In addition to handling the migration of your SAP on iSeries from on-premises to an IBM private cloud, we provide proactive performance tuning. Combined with careful management, this delivers the kind of uptime you expect with IBM iSeries.

We are the largest IBM iSeries SAP Basis team in the United States, offering our own custom-built iSeries enterprise cloud. In this context, we come to SAP cloud hosting for iSeries with a range of technical competencies that include expertise in IBM hardware and software as well as SAP operations, SAP migration and SAP cloud hosting. Our iSeries cloud offers the benefits of a cloud environment along with the peace of mind you get with a platform you trust.

Our proven track record comprises project management skills for planning and executing complex technological transformations that minimize disruption and contain costs. We help you weigh your options and investments. Then, we design the solution that best suits your business strategy and requirements. We work closely with both your business and IT organizations, coordinating stakeholders at all levels. Our customers end up with customized solutions that fit their unique SAP iSeries needs.