3 Questions about IBM i Legacy Apps and IaaS

IBM i Cloud and IaaSThis year marks the 30th birthday for one of the breakthrough, innovative operating systems of all time, IBM i. That’s right, IBM i technology has been around since the late 1980s, and for good reason. It’s incredibly stable and secure, which is why companies have trusted it to run all sorts of legacy applications for so long.

However, with the advent of the cloud and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) options, it makes sense to look at your applications running on IBM i on-premise and see if migrating to a managed solution works for your company.

We know it’s not easy. Many legacy applications, like payroll, ERP, and others have probably been running on IBM i boxes for almost as long as IBM i has been around. Why mess with something that works?

Well, if you’re like most companies, you’ve probably started to find it more difficult to find IT professionals who specialize in IBM i, adding significant cost to application management. IaaS takes all those maintenance tasks off your plate, they’re handled by the service provider’s experts. Likewise, you’ve likely moved other applications and workloads to the cloud, reducing your on-premise footprint. You know the savings and benefits that can come from working with a managed services provider in the cloud; those benefits are multiplied when it comes to legacy applications that require expensive, specialized skills to maintain.

Of course, legacy applications can have some specific requirements that make finding the right cloud service provider critical to success. As a certified IBM partner, we think we have a number of strengths, but whatever cloud provider you choose, make sure they can answer these three questions.

Can they guarantee zero downtime?

There’s a reason you’ve kept these legacy systems on-premise, and on IBM i machines for so long: you can’t afford any downtime. When you move to the cloud it’s no different. Make sure your provider can guarantee at least five-9s uptime (99.999 percent). But more than that, make sure you can have a backup plan with zero downtime, for when that .001 percent happens. Options with a built-in backup and recovery system can bridge that gap, and make sure you’re always up and running.

Can they customize your solution for different apps?

All your apps are different. They have different performance requirements, different network loads, and even different security parameters. Don’t get stuck in a one-size-fits-all solution that isn’t exactly right for any of them. Solutions that offer SAN, Flash, and even external storage — and the ability to move seamlessly between them as your workloads and budgets change — make sure that each app gets exactly the solution it requires, meaning it runs smoothly, 100 percent of the time, and on budget.

Can they work with your compliance needs?

Depending on your industry, and the nature of your applications, compliance can be something that holds companies back from moving to the cloud. Before you move, make sure the provider you choose allows you to be compliant with the regulations you face. Note, this doesn’t mean their solutions themselves are certified compliant. For example, it’s impossible for any service provider to be HIPAA compliant, it’s not a certification that’s available. It is possible for service providers to have everything set up and inspected so that you’re able to be compliant when running on their systems. It’s a subtle difference, but a big one. So ask questions, and make sure your provider lets you stay in compliance, whether it’s HIPAA, SSAE SOC, or anything else.

As IBM i turns 30, it’s the perfect time to see whether your on-premise legacy apps can benefit from an IaaS solution. Depending on the provider you choose, they’ll still be running on IBM technology — we run our customers’ apps on IBM Power8 or Power9 systems, for example — but you’ll be getting all the benefits of a service-based cloud model. If you do it right, it could be the perfect way to celebrate a milestone birthday for a milestone technology, and you’ll save enough money to throw quite a party.

Click here to learn more about how KeyInfo’s IaaS solutions can help manage your legacy apps.


Drew Woods
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
Key Information Systems