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IBM i and AIX Virtual Servers Are Now on IBM Cloud

IBMers Jose Paez and Michael Daubman explain the latest offering in the IBM Cloud portfolio.

Row of POWER9 server cabiners with a yellow-tinted cloud outline above

Image by Andy Potts

Many organizations are incorporating cloud capabilities across their IT infrastructure with a combination of private and public clouds. This multicloud approach is providing clients with agile, cost-effective ways to handle workloads and offer new services. With the introduction of IBM Power Systems* Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud*, organizations can extend into the public cloud using the same platforms in their on-premises data centers that they know and trust: IBM i and AIX*.

This latest innovation is part of IBM’s strategic progress in support of the new normal that is hybrid and multicloud. Current cloud users are growing their investment in cloud because of its inherent capabilities. Clients can provision their IT needs, on demand, when they need it and pay only for what's used. “This adds flexibility to their current usage needs and workloads,” notes Michael Daubman, offering leader, IBM Cloud Infrastructure Services.

Popular use cases for cloud demonstrate how clients take advantage of this flexibility. Clients are creating test and development (Dev/Test) environments in the cloud both on-premises and off-premises. As developers don’t need a Dev/Test environment that will exist for years, they can build it on the cloud, use it and remove it after Dev/Test is completed. For instance, some clients are taking advantage of IBM’s POWER9* servers in the IBM Cloud to test applications before launch. 

Incorporating the Cloud

Disaster recovery (DR) is a popular cloud use case. In a traditional DR strategy, the data is duplicated at another physical location. With a DR cloud strategy, data can be stored in an off-prem cloud instead of a physical site. Clients can replicate their DR infrastructure as needed and on demand. “Using off-prem cloud for DR reduces the need for hands-on investment or supplements any physical DR infrastructure and helps to reduce risk,” Daubman says.  

Savvy clients are finding other ways to incorporate cloud into the ecosystem. They are building cloud-native applications with cloud features and functionalities. They are modernizing their applications using the cloud. Clients just beginning their cloud journey are leveraging on-premises private cloud infrastructure using Cloud Paks from IBM. “These clients are putting workloads on a private cloud to gain flexibility,” says Daubman. 

Cloud simplifies the way clients extend their infrastructure. “All you need is an IBM Cloud account to access the cloud,” points out Daubman. The acquisition process is less cumbersome and often no capital expenditure requirement needs to be met. Clients in the early stages of cloud adoption can leverage their operating expenses and create a flexible cloud deployment quickly and easily. 

Cloud Access 

Ease of use is one of the reasons IBM launched IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud. This offering delivers IBM POWER9 VMs with AIX or IBM i on the public IBM Cloud. IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers for IBM Cloud gives users the same reliability and systems they have come to expect from on-premise physical systems. 

With this Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, companies can customize the cloud based on workload needs. Clients choose how much memory, storage, how many cores, whether the cores are dedicated or shared, and whether AIX or IBM i will be the OS. “This is a unique offering,” says José Paez, offering manager, Power Systems Virtual Server on IBM Cloud. “It’s the first time IBM Power Systems has offered AIX and IBM i in the IBM Cloud for clients. Clients can spin it up when they need it, turn it off when they don’t need it and pay only for what they are using,” he notes.

The IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers have both scale-out and scale-up capabilities to suit any client’s needs. Organizations with very large IBM i installations can duplicate or even extend those with Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud. The offering also accommodates companies with smaller capacity needs who want the flexibility the cloud provides. Further, clients can move their customized OSes to the cloud. “This offering features the OSes clients love and rely on in their enterprise and has the capability to bring their customized OS to the cloud,” Daubman says. 

Solving Challenges

During beta testing, clients used the IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud to solve specific challenges. One client had acquired another company and needed to consolidate data centers and workloads. The client used the cloud to create a temporary, exact replica of its on-premises environment. This consumable cloud version leveraged IBM PowerVM virtualization and fiber-attached storage. The client used the cloud to host the acquired company’s workload while deprovisioning the acquisition’s data center. “It’s an internal migration path using the cloud,” Daubman explains. 

ISVs, MSPs and cloud service providers (CSPs) beta tested the ability to offer IaaS to their clients using IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers. One ISV, a supply chain management enterprise, offered a complete package solution on IBM i for its clients. The solution can be accessed by physical delivery and in the IBM Cloud. Many of the ISV’s customers preferred the cloud-delivered solution. “It’s easy for the partner to offer an end-to-end solution leveraging infrastructure in the IBM Cloud,” Daubman says.

Using off-prem cloud for DR reduces the need for hands-on investment or supplements any physical DR infrastructure and helps to reduce risk.
Michael Daubman, offering leader, IBM Cloud Infrastructure Services

Other beta testers used IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers for proof of concept testing of production applications. They used the cloud to verify the applications before offering them on premises to their clients. “We work with a lot of MSPs and CSPs that want to leverage the offering to give value to their clients,” Paez says. Instead of buying a lot of on-premises capacity all at once, the MSPs and CSPs can use a hybrid cloud environment combining private and public cloud to gain a new level of flexibility for their clients. “They are testing not only the technical issues, but also a new business model,” he notes.

The Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud have advantages for any client needing DR. Clients can provision an AIX image in the IBM Cloud that’s big enough to handle their needs. Clients can use PowerHA between the on-premises server and the off-premises DR destination to replicate their environment. If failover becomes necessary, the replication is there. “Clients are paying for a smaller footprint on a metered monthly basis in the IBM Cloud,” Daubman says.

Expanding Family

IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud joins the ever-expanding hybrid multicloud family of offerings on Power. On the systems side, IBM is working to integrate all of the offerings, including on-premises Cloud Paks on Red Hat OpenShift, internal private clouds and the public IBM Cloud. “Cloud Paks on OpenShift extends the agility and efficiency of cloud in a multi-architecture environment that includes both the existing VM-based application in AIX and IBM i as well as containerized applications in Linux* on POWER* or even x86,” says Paez. 

Cloud Paks on OpenShift extends the agility and efficiency of cloud in a multi-architecture environment that includes both the existing VM-based application in AIX and IBM i as well as containerized applications in Linux on POWER or even x86.
José Paez, offering manager, Power Systems Virtual Server on IBM Cloud

For organizations starting to modernize or develop cloud native applications, Cloud Paks from IBM allow them to leverage Kubernetes container management with Red Hat OpenShift and container-based IBM middleware. IBM now provides integrated and certified Cloud Paks for applications, integration, data, automation and multicloud management. Cloud Paks enable these clients to develop, operationalize and manage the lifecycle for enterprise-class, cloud-native apps on premises. “They can begin the cloud journey in a way that’s comfortable with privacy and security,” Daubman notes.

As these clients get more experienced in the cloud, they’re extending farther into the cloud, perhaps into the public cloud, and accessing other parts of the IBM cloud catalog like IBM Watson* services. “Clients have the opportunity to modernize, extend and leverage client data, expertise and intellectual property in new and exciting ways,” he says. 

Clients who are new to cloud don’t have to go from zero to zoom right away. “Clients can approach it in a crawl, walk and run way,” explains Daubman. A retailer is using that approach to integrate cloud into its operations. The company is learning to crawl by using development in the IBM Cloud. It will deploy DR in the IBM Cloud as its walk phase. When the retailer is ready to run, it may be ready to place some production in IBM Cloud. 

Guidance Is Always Available

Whether an organization is experienced with cloud or just embarking on the road to cloud, IBM is ready to offer guidance and assistance at a level that’s commensurate with the client’s cloud knowledge. IBM Services can assist with managed services as well as migration services. 

Clients can be assured that IBM has done its due diligence when it comes to security measures and compliance. “We did double the regulation and compliance measurements to ensure that IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers on IBM Cloud met the expectations of Power Systems and of the cloud,” Paez says. “We’re bringing to market a service with high performance, that can meet mission-critical workloads and that has best of breed security for Power Systems and cloud.” 

IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers for IBM Cloud currently is available in the U.S. In the near future, clients in Europe and Asia will be able to tap into the offering as well. Clients around the world have been asking for the ability to use AIX and IBM i in the cloud. Now those platforms are available in the IBM Cloud.

IBM enables new and experienced clients to make their cloud journey with confidence with IBM Power Systems Virtual Servers for IBM Cloud. Organizations are seeing the benefits of cloud and the innovation it brings to the business. 

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