Why haven’t you made the move to IBM Power in the cloud?
Is it because you like the big upfront capital expense and the depreciating asset? Is it because installing PTFs and doing OS upgrades gives your IT team something to do during slow times? Or maybe it’s because the thought of migration and downtime is just completely overwhelming to you? While I don’t have an answer to the first two reasons above, I’m here to tell you that a migration does not have to be difficult, and downtime can be practically nonexistent.
I recently spent some time with an IBM reseller, and he walked me through the steps of migrating to one of the “big IBM Power in the cloud service providers”. To say that it was complex, and self-service would be an understatement. I know there are many companies that like the self-service cloud model. Give them an interface and they are happy to configure, manage and tweak the environment on their own but I talk to companies every day that want to walk away from hardware management and don’t want the added burden of planning and executing a migration to the cloud. With their limited iSeries expertise on staff, they are happy to offload the project to someone else.
So how do you execute a simple and smooth migration to the cloud?
Start off by talking to your potential cloud service provider and asking questions about how they do migrations. An experienced provider should have a tried-and-true process that is designed to minimize downtime and the impact on your staff and business. We have done migrations for many companies in various industries and what we have found is that while everyone has some unique requirements, the core requirements remain the same.
Here’s how we tackle migrations:
- The full save. We start off by asking you to do a full system save (option 21) to a physical tape and then send that tape to us. This save includes everything on your server, from the operating system and applications to security and files.
- Build the new server. Racksquared uses the data from the full save to build and configure a server in our data center to your company’s specifications. At this point, you continue to run on your current system.
- Setup networking. While we are working on completing step 2, we’re also engaged with your networking team to establish network connectivity from your location to the new server in our data center. Most customers opt for a site-to-site VPN connection, but other options are available.
- Customer test of new environment. Once the networking is in place and the LPAR is accessible you will begin testing to make sure everything is working properly. This is really just a test of the new server and the restore, more of a confirmation that everything was done correctly.
- PTF installs and OS upgrades. In the event, your LPAR needs PTF installs or OS upgrades, these would be performed at this time. Depending on the OS version you are running and where you want to get to, this step may be repeated a few times as IBM recommends that you only upgrade the OS by two releases at a time.
- Customer test of upgraded environment. Now that the system has been upgraded, there is another round of customer testing to make sure that there aren’t any application issues related to the upgraded OS. This customer testing may happen a few times to coincide with the OS upgrade cycle mentioned above.
- Make final updates and go live. To make sure the new server is fully up-to-date before going live, Racksquared secures a tape or uses replication to update the server with the most up to date data. Once everything is updated and confirmed, cutover is scheduled, and you begin running on the Racksquared IBM cloud.
How long does this take? We typically tell companies that it is a two- to three-week process, but the reality is the majority of that time is allocated to customers for testing. Recently, we got a call from a company that hadn’t done an upgrade in 20 years and its on-premise server had crashed. We were able to get them up and running on the cloud in a matter of days, restoring all their data from backups.
An Opportunity For Updates And Optimization
As mentioned above, the migration is a good time do PTF installs and OS upgrades. We often find that due to the investment in time and effort, companies dread making operating system upgrades and their servers are not current. When Racksquared is building the new environment, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to the current releases. We work with customers to help them assess what is necessary to get your server up to date and help you review changes on the new server so you can be comfortable before cutting over.
A Seamless Switch
Moving from an on-premises server to the cloud can seem daunting and is definitely a shift in your paradigm. But with the right approach, the actual moment that the switch happens can be anti-climactic. With the environment in place, tested, updated, and confirmed ahead of time, everything is ready to go. It’s just a matter of making the final cutover to the cloud environment, a change that end users don’t even realize has happened.
When Watson’s, a home entertainment retailer, moved to Racksquared cloud servers, its stores didn’t even notice the change. Their programmer analyst described it: “All the new networking, the new location – all of this happened over a weekend. I don’t think we experienced any downtime.” She even went so far as to call the migration a “non-event.” That’s exactly the outcome our process was designed to produce. You can read their full story here.