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IBM i Migration Considerations

Don’t be overwhelmed by IBM i migration options.

IBM i remains a vital platform and now many CIOs, CTOs, and IT leaders are faced with the same IBM i challenges regardless of industry focus: how do you evaluate the future viability of this platform, assess the future fit and purpose, develop strategies, and determine the future of this platform for your organization?

Our Advice

Critical Insight

For organizations that are struggling with the iSeries/IBM i platform, resourcing challenges are typically the culprit. An aging population of RPG programmers and system administrators means organizations need to be more pro-active in maintaining in-house expertise. Migrating off the iSeries/IBM i platform is a difficult option for most organizations due to complexity, switching costs in the short term, and a higher long-term TCO.

Impact and Result

The most common tactic is for the organization to better understand their IBM i options and adopt some level of outsourcing for the non-commodity platform retaining the application support/development in-house. To make the evident, obvious; the options here for the non-commodity are not as broad as with commodity server platforms. Options include co-location, onsite outsourcing, managed and public cloud services.


IBM i Migration Considerations Research & Tools

1. IBM i Migration Considerations – A brief deck that outlines key migration options for the IBM i platforms.

This project will help you evaluate the future viability of this platform; assess the fit, purpose, and price; develop strategies for overcoming potential challenges; and determine the future of this platform for your organization.

2. Infrastructure Outsourcing IBM i Scoring Tool – A tool to collect vendor responses and score each vendor.

Use this scoring sheet to help you define and evaluate IBM i vendor responses.


IBM i Migration Considerations

Don’t be overwhelmed by IBM i migration options.

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

IBM i remains a vital platform and now many CIO, CTO, and IT leaders are faced with the same IBM i challenges regardless of industry focus; how do you evaluate the future viability of this platform, assess the future fit and purpose, develop strategies, and determine the future of this platform for your organization?

Common Obstacles

For organizations that are struggling with the iSeries/IBM i platform, resourcing challenges are typically the culprit. An aging population of RPG programmers and system administrators means organizations need to be more proactive in maintaining in-house expertise. Migrating off the iSeries/IBM i platform is a difficult option for most organizations due to complexity, switching costs in the short term, and a higher long-term TCO.

Info-Tech Approach

The most common tactic is for the organization to better understand its IBM i options and adopt some level of outsourcing for the non-commodity platform, retaining the application support/development in-house. To make the evident, obvious: the options here for the non-commodity are not as broad as with commodity server platforms. Options include co-location, onsite outsourcing, managed hosting, and public cloud services.

Info-Tech Insight

“For over twenty years, IBM was ‘king,’ dominating the large computer market. By the 1980s, the world had woken up to the fact that the IBM mainframe was expensive and difficult, taking a long time and a lot of work to get anything done. Eager for a new solution, tech professionals turned to the brave new concept of distributed systems for a more efficient alternative. On June 21, 1988, IBM announced the launch of the AS/400, their answer to distributed computing.” (Dale Perkins)

Review

We help IT leaders make the most of their IBM i environment.

Problem Statement:

The IBM i remains a vital platform for many businesses and continues to deliver exceptional reliability and performance and play a key role in the enterprise. With the limited resources at hand, CIOs and the like must continually review and understand their migration path with the same regard as any other distributed system roadmap.

This research is designed for:

  • IT strategic direction decision makers
  • IT managers responsible for an existing iSeries or IBM i platform
  • Organizations evaluating platforms for mission-critical applications

This research will help you:

  1. Evaluate the future viability of this platform.
  2. Assess the fit, purpose, and price.
  3. Develop strategies for overcoming potential challenges.
  4. Determine the future of this platform for your organization.

The “fit for purpose” plot

Thought Model

We will investigate the aspect of different IBM i scenarios as they impact business, what that means, and how that can guide the questions that you are asking as you move to an aligned IBM i IT strategy. Our model considers:

  • Importance to Business Outcomes
    • Important to strategic objectives
    • Provides competitive advantage
    • Non-commodity IT service or process
    • Specialized in-house knowledge required
  • Vendor’s Performance Advantage
    • Talent or access to skills
    • Economies of scale or lower cost at scale
    • Access to technology

Info-Tech Insights

With multiple control points to be addressed, care must be taken in simplifying your options while addressing all concerns to ease operational load.

Map different 'IBM i' scenarios with axes 'Importance to Business Outcomes - Low to High' and 'Vendor’s Performance Advantage - Low to High'. Quadrant labels are '[LI/LA] Potentially Outsource: Service management, Help desk, desk-side support, Asset management', '[LI/HA] Outsource: Application & Infra Support, Web Hosting, SAP Support, Email Services, Infrastructure', '[HI/LA] Insource (For Now): Application development tech support', and '[HI/HA] Potentially Outsource: Onshore or offshore application maintenance'.

IBM i environments are challenging

“The IBM i Reality” – Darin Stahl

Most members relying on business applications/workloads running on non-commodity platforms (zSeries, IBM i, Solaris, AIX, etc.) are first motivated to get out from under the perceived higher costs for the hardware platform.

An additional challenge for non-commodity platforms is that from an IT Operations Management perspective they become an island with a diminishing number of integrated operations skills and solutions such as backup/restore and monitoring tools.

The most common tactic is for the organization to adopt some level of outsourcing for the non-commodity platform, retaining the application support and development in-house.

Key challenges with current IBM i environments:
  1. DR Requirements
    Understand what the business needs are and where users and resources are located.
  2. Market Lack of Expertise
    Skilled team members are hard to find.
  3. Cost Management
    There is a perceived cost disadvantage to managing on-prem solutions.
  4. Aging Support Teams
    Current support teams are aging with little backfill in skill and experience.

Understand your options

Co-Location

A customer transitions their hardware environment to a provider’s data center. The provider can then manage the hardware and “system.”

Onsite Outsourcing

A provider will support the hardware/system environment at the client’s site.

Managed Hosting

A customer transitions their legacy application environment to an off-prem hosted, multi-tenanted environment.

Public Cloud

A customer can “re-platform” the non-commodity workload into public cloud offerings or in a few offerings “re-host.”

Co-Location

Provider manages the data center hardware environment.

Abstract

Here a provider manages the system data center environment and hardware; however, the client’s in-house IBM i team manages the IBM i hardware environment and the system applications. The client manages all of the licenses associated with the platform as well as the hardware asset management considerations. This is typically part of a larger services or application transformation. This effectively outsources the data center management while maintaining all IBM i technical operations in-house.

Advantages

  • On-demand bandwidth
  • Cost effective
  • Secure and compliant environment
  • On-demand remote “hands and feet” services
  • Improved IT DR services
  • Data center compliance

Considerations

  • Application transformation
  • CapEx cost
  • Fluctuating network bandwidth costs
  • Secure connectivity
  • Disaster recovery and availability of vendor
  • Company IT DR and BC planning
  • Remote system maintenance (HW)

Info-Tech Insights

This model is extremely attractive for organizations looking to reduce their data center management footprint. Idea for the SMB.

Onsite Sourcing

A provider will support the hardware/system environment at the client’s site.

Abstract

Here a provider will support and manage the hardware/system environment at the client’s site. The provider may acquire the customer’s hardware and provide software licenses. This could also include hiring or “rebadging” staff supporting the platform. This type of arrangement is typically part of a larger services or application transformation. While low risk, it is not as cost-effective as other deployment models.

Advantages

  • Managed environment within company premises
  • Cost effective (OpEx expense)
  • Economies of scale
  • On-demand “as-a-service” model
  • Improved IT DR staffing services
  • 24x7 monitoring and support

Considerations

  • Outsourced IT talent
  • Terms and contract conditions
  • IT staff attrition
  • Increased liability
  • Modified technical support and engagement
  • Secure connectivity and communication
  • Internal problem and change management

Info-Tech Insights

Depending on the application lifecycle and viability, in-house skill and technical depth is a key consideration when developing your IBM i strategy.

Managed Hosting

Transition legacy application environment to an off-prem hosted multi-tenanted environment.

Abstract

This type of arrangement is typically part of an application migration or transformation. In this model, a client can “re-platform” the application into an off-premises-hosted provider platform. This would yield many of the cloud benefits however in a different scaling capacity as experienced with commodity workloads (e.g. Windows, Linux) and the associated application.

Advantages

  • Turns CapEx into OpEx
  • Reduces in-house need for diminishing or scarce human resources
  • Allows the enterprise to focus on the value of the IBM i platform through the reduction of system administrative toil
  • Improved IT DR services
  • Data center compliance

Considerations

  • Application transformation
  • Network bandwidth
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Modified technical support and engagement
  • Secure connectivity and communication
  • Technical security and compliance
  • Limited providers; reduced options

Info-Tech Insights

There is a difference between a “re-host” and “re-platform” migration strategy. Determine which solution aligns to the application requirements.

Public Cloud

Leverage “public cloud” alternatives with AWS, Google, or Microsoft AZURE.

Abstract

This type of arrangement is typically part of a larger migration or application transformation. While low risk, it is not as cost-effective as other deployment models. In this model, client can “re-platform” the non-commodity workload into public cloud offerings or in a few offerings “re-host.” This would yield many of the cloud benefits however in a different scaling capacity as experienced with commodity workloads (e.g. Windows, Linux).

Advantages

  • Remote workforce accessibility
  • OpEx expense model
  • Improved IT DR services
  • Reduced infrastructure and system administration
  • Vendor management
  • 24x7 monitoring and support

Considerations

  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Modified technical support and engagement
  • Secure connectivity and communication
  • Technical security and compliance
  • Limited providers; reduced options
  • Vendor/cloud lock-in
  • Application migration/”re-platform”
  • Application and system performance

Info-Tech Insights

This model is extremely attractive for organizations that consume primarily cloud services and have a large remote workforce.

Understand your vendors

  • To best understand your options, you need to understand what IBM i services are provided by the industry vendors.
  • Within the following slides, you will find a defined activity with a working template that will create “vendor profiles” for each vendor.
  • As a working example, you can review the following partners:
  • Connectria (United States)
  • Rowton IT Solutions Ltd (United Kingdom)
  • Mid-Range (Canada)

Info-Tech Insights

Creating vendor profiles will help quickly filter the solution providers that directly meet your IBM i needs.

Vendor Profile #1

Rowton IT

Summary of Vendor

“Rowton IT thrive on creating robust and simple solutions to today's complex IT problems. We have a highly skilled and motivated workforce that will guarantee the right solution.

Working with select business partners, we can offer competitive and cost effective packages tailored to suit your budget and/or business requirements.

Our knowledge and experience cover vast areas of IT including technical design, provision and installation of hardware (Wintel and IBM Midrange), technical engineering services, support services, IT project management, application testing, documentation and training.”

IBM i Services

  • ✔ IBM Power Hardware Sales
  • ✔ Co-Managed Services
  • ✔ DR/High Available Config
  • ✔ Full Managed Services
  • ✖ Co-Location Services
  • ✔ Public Cloud Services (AWS)

URL
rowtonit.com

Regional Coverage:
United Kingdom

Logo for RowtonIT.com.

Vendor Profile #2

Connectria

Summary of Vendor

“Every journey starts with a single step and for Connectria, that step happened to be with the world’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank. Followed quickly by our second client, IBM. Since then, we have added over 1,000 clients worldwide. For 25 years, each customer, large or small, has relied on Connectria to deliver on promises made to make it easy to do business with us through flexible terms, scalable solutions, and straightforward pricing. Join us on our journey.”

IBM i Services

  • ✔ IBM Power Hardware Sales
  • ✔ Co-Managed Services
  • ✔ DR/High Available Config
  • ✔ Full Managed Services
  • ✔ Co-Location Services
  • ✔ Public Cloud Services (AWS)

URL
connectria.com

Regional Coverage:
United States

Logo for Connectria.

Vendor Profile #3

Mid-Range

Summary of Vendor

“Founded in 1988 and profitable throughout all of those 31 years, we have a solid track record of success. At Mid-Range, we use our expertise to assess your unique needs, in order to proactively develop the most effective IT solution for your requirements. Our full-service approach to technology and our diverse and in-depth industry expertise keep our clients coming back year after year.

Serving clients across North America in a variety of industries, from small and emerging organizations to large, established enterprises – we’ve seen it all. Whether you need hardware or software solutions, disaster recovery and high availability, managed services or hosting or full ERP services with our JD Edwards offerings – we have the methods and expertise to help.”

IBM i Services

  • ✔ IBM Power Hardware Sales
  • ✔ Co-Managed Services
  • ✔ DR/High Available Config
  • ✔ Full Managed Services
  • ✔ Co-Location Services
  • ✔ Public Cloud Services (AWS)

URL
midrange.ca

Regional Coverage:
Canada

Logo for Mid-Range.

Activity

Understand your vendor options

Activities:
  1. Create your vendor profiles
  2. Score vendor responses
  3. Develop and manage your vendor agenda

This activity involves the following participants:

  • IT strategic direction decision makers
  • IT managers responsible for an existing iSeries or IBM i platform

Outcomes of this step:

  • Vendor Profile Template
  • Completed IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Scoring Tool

Info-Tech Insights

This check-point process creates transparency around agreement costs with the business and gives the business an opportunity to re-evaluate its requirements for a potentially leaner agreement.

1. Create your vendor profiles

Define what you are looking for:

  • Create a vendor profile for every vendor of interest.
  • Leverage our starting list and template to track and record the advantages of each vendor.

Mindshift

First National Technology Solutions

Key Information Systems

MainLine

Direct Systems Support

T-Systems

Horizon Computer Solutions Inc.

Vendor Profile Template

[Vendor Name]

Summary of Vendor

[Vendor Summary]
*Detail the Vendor Services as a Summary*

IBM i Services

  • ✔ IBM Power Hardware Sales
  • ✔ Co-Managed Services
  • ✔ DR/High Available Config
  • ✔ Full Managed Services
  • ✔ Co-Location Services
  • ✔ Public Cloud Services (AWS)
*Itemize the Vendor Services specific to your requirements*

URL
https://www.url.com/
*Insert the Vendor URL*

Regional Coverage:
[Country\Region]
*Insert the Vendor Coverage & Locations*

*Insert the Vendor Logo*

2. Score your vendor responses

Use the IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Scoring Tool to manage vendor responses.
Use Info-Tech’s IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Scoring Tool to systematically score your vendor responses.

The overall quality of the IBM i questions can help you understand what it might be like to work with the vendor.

Consider the following questions:

  • Is the vendor clear about what it’s able to offer? Is its response transparent?
  • How much effort did the vendor put into answering the questions?
  • Does the vendor seem like someone you would want to work with?

Once you have the vendor responses, you will select two or three vendors to continue assessing in more depth leading to an eventual final selection.

Screenshot of the IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Scoring Tool's Scoring Sheet. There are three tables: 'Scoring Scale', 'Results', and one with 'RFP Questions'. Note on Results table says 'Top Scoring Vendors', and note on questions table says 'List your IBM i questions (requirements)'.

Info-Tech Insights

Watch out for misleading scores that result from poorly designed criteria weightings.

3. Develop your vendor agenda

Vendor Conference Call

Develop an agenda for the conference call. Here is a sample agenda:
  • Review the vendor questions.
  • Go over answers to written vendor questions previously submitted.
  • Address new vendor questions.

Commonly Debated Question:
Should vendors be asked to remain anonymous on the call or should each vendor mention their organization when they join the call?

Many organizations worry that if vendors can identify each other, they will price fix. However, price fixing is extremely rare due to its consequences and most vendors likely have a good idea which other vendors are participating in the bid. Another thought is that revealing vendors could either result in a higher level of competition or cause some vendors to give up:

  • A vendor that hears its rival is also bidding may increase the competitiveness of its bid and response.
  • A vendor that feels it doesn’t have a chance may put less effort into the process.
  • A vendor that feels it doesn’t have real competition may submit a less competitive or detailed response than it otherwise would have.

Vendor Workshop

A vendor workshop day is an interactive way to provide context to your vendors and to better understand the vendors’ offerings. The virtual or in-person interaction also offers a great way to understand what it’s like to work with each vendor and decide whether you could build a partnership with them in the long run.

The main focus of the workshop is the vendors’ service solution presentation. Here is a sample agenda for a two-day workshop:

Day 1
  • Meet and greet
  • Welcome presentation with objectives, acquisition strategy, and company overview
  • Overview of the current IT environment, technologies, and company expectations
  • Question and answer session
  • Site walk
Day 2
  • Review Day 1 activities
  • Vendor presentations and solution framing
Use the IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Scoring Tool to manage vendor responses.

Related Info-Tech Research

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Outsource IT Infrastructure to Improve System Availability, Reliability, and Recovery
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Build Your Infrastructure Roadmap
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Document Your Cloud Strategy
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Create a Better RFP Process
Improve your RFPs to gain leverage and get better results.

Research Authors

Photo of Darin Stahl, Principal Research Advisor, Info-Tech Research Group.Darin Stahl, Principal Research Advisor, Info-Tech Research Group

Principal Research Advisor within the Infrastructure Practice and leveraging 38+ years of experience, his areas of focus include: IT Operations Management, Service Desk, Infrastructure Outsourcing, Managed Services, Cloud Infrastructure, DRP/BCP, Printer Management, Managed Print Services, Application Performance Monitoring (APM), Managed FTP, and non-commodity servers (zSeries, mainframe, IBM i, AIX, Power PC).

Photo of Troy Cheeseman, Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group.Troy Cheeseman, Practice Lead, Info-Tech Research Group

Troy has over 24 years of experience and has championed large, enterprise-wide technology transformation programs, remote/home office collaboration and remote work strategies, BCP, IT DRP, IT Operations and expense management programs, international right placement initiatives, and large technology transformation initiatives (M&A). Additionally, he has deep experience working with IT solution providers and technology (cloud) start-ups.

Research Contributors

Photo of Dan Duffy, President & Owner, Mid-Range.Dan Duffy, President & Owner, Mid-Range

Dan Duffy is the President and Founder of Mid-Range Computer Group Inc., an IBM Platinum Business Partner. Dan and his team have been providing the Canadian and American IBM Power market with IBM infrastructure solutions including private cloud, hosting and disaster recovery, high availability and data center services since 1988. He has served on numerous boards and associations including the Toronto Users Group for Mid-Range Systems (TUG), the IBM Business Partners of the Americas Advisory Council, the Cornell Club of Toronto, and the Notre Dame Club of Toronto. Dan holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.

Photo of George Goodall, Executive Advisor, Info-Tech Research Group.George Goodall, Executive Advisor, Info-Tech Research Group

George Goodall is an Executive Advisor in the Research Executive Services practice at Info-Tech Research Group. George has over 20 years of experience in IT consulting, enterprise software sales, project management, and workshop delivery. His primary focus is the unique challenges and opportunities in organizations with small and constrained IT operations. In his long tenure at Info-Tech, George has covered diverse topics including voice communications, storage, and strategy and governance.

Bibliography

“Companies using IBM i (formerly known as i5/OS).” Enlyft, 21 July 2021. Web.

Connor, Clare. “IBM i and Meeting the Challenges of Modernization.” Ensono, 22 Mar. 2022. Web.

Huntington, Tom. “60+ IBM i User Groups and Communities to Join?” HelpSystems, 16 Dec. 2021. Web.

Perkins, Dale. “The Road to Power Cloud: June 21st 1988 to now. The Journey Continues.” Mid-Range, 1 Nov. 2021. Web.

Prickett Morgan, Timothy. “How IBM STACKS UP POWER8 AGAINST XEON SERVERS.” The Next Platform, 13 Oct. 2015. Web.

“Why is AS/400 still used? Four reasons to stick with a classic.” NTT, 21 July 2016. Web.

Appendix

Public Cloud Provider Notes

Appendix –
Cloud
Providers


“IBM Power (IBM i and AIX) workloads are also available in the so-called ‘cloud.’” (Darin Stahl)

AWS

Appendix –
Cloud
Providers



“IBM Power (IBM i and AIX) workloads are also available in the so-called ‘cloud.’” (Darin Stahl)

Google

  • Google Cloud console supports IBM Power Systems.
  • This offering provides cloud instances running on IBM Power Systems servers with PowerVM.
  • The service uses a per-day prorated monthly subscription model for cloud instance plans with different capacities of compute, memory, storage, and network. Standard plans are listed below and custom plans are possible.
  • There is no IBM i offering yet that we are aware of.
  • For AIX on Power, this would appear to be a better option than AWS (Converge Enterprise Cloud with IBM Power for Google Cloud).

Appendix –
Cloud
Providers



“IBM Power (IBM i and AIX) workloads are also available in the so-called ‘cloud.’” (Darin Stahl)

Azure

  • Azure has partners using the Azure Dedicated Host offerings to deliver “native support for IBM POWER Systems to Azure data centres” (PowerWire).
  • Microsoft has installed Power servers in an couple Azure data centers and Skytap manages the IBM i, AIX, and Linux environments for clients.
  • As far as I am aware there is no ability to install IBM i or AIX within an Azure Dedicated Host via the retail interfaces – these must be worked through a partner like Skytap.
  • The cloud route for IBM i or AIX might be the easiest working with Skytap and Azure. This would appear to be a better option than AWS in my opinion.

Appendix –
Cloud
Providers



“IBM Power (IBM i and AIX) workloads are also available in the so-called ‘cloud.’” (Darin Stahl)

IBM

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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Authors

Troy Cheeseman

Darin Stahl

Contributors

Dan Duffy, Owner & President, Mid-Range

Search Code: 98875
Last Revised: June 2, 2022

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