Don’t have a Cloud Strategy? You should still migrate one app to the Cloud.

“Cloud computing is in its beginning stages and will only continue to grow, Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Tuesday.” (June 28th, 2022)

Even if you currently don’t have a comprehensive cloud strategy, regardless of the reason, there is a justification for doing a “proof-of-concept” in the cloud for at least one application of significance in your app portfolio.

Here are a few top reasons companies cite why they don’t move to the cloud. Of course, there could be many others, but these are popular.

  1. Costs (cost of the cloud service, plus implied costs like network connectivity)
  2. Your applications are antiquated and based on mainframe or mid-range servers.
  3. Security
  4. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
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“Lift and Shift” doesn’t mean “No Re-Factoring Required.”

If you have legacy applications and are moving to the cloud, one popular pattern is to do a simple “Lift and Shift.” That means you don’t architecturally change the application but simply move it to your cloud of choice and run it just like you did before. This approach lets you more quickly “get out of the data center” and doesn’t initially imply that you have to refactor any part of the application to use native services provided by your cloud vendor.

In fact, if the application is stable but just legacy, your valid strategy might be to let it run forever in an “as-is” state. Nothing changes. Just get it running in the cloud and out of the data center.

This approach’s major downside is that Lift-and-Shift also carries forward all the Technical Debt accumulated for that application.

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In the near future, you will administer your IBMi LPAR by putting on your headset and entering the Metaverse…

This is just a late-night “riff” of creative writing. A very raw draft of a storyline of one possible version of the future……

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It’s about 8:30 AM, and my work day begins. As a system administrator for a large insurance company, I’m responsible for keeping everything running in our various data centers. Typically I login to my laptop and scan various dashboards and trouble ticket systems that report when something isn’t working right. There would be an alert or log entry describing some problem. The problems could come from any of our data centers around the world. I login to those remote systems and try to figure out is was wrong and attempt to fix it. When needed, other co-workers assist depending on the problem and what skill set might be needed to fix it. Sometimes an application breaks, or maybe a network connection stops working. Occasionally some piece of hardware goes bad. I spend my whole day looking at log files and error messages, emailing, talking, or chatting with other co-workers using collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, emailing, and calling hardware and software vendors whose products my company uses. 

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“My application can’t be moved to the cloud!”

My company provides the ability to host IBM Power AIX and IBMi application workloads in the cloud. We partner with two of the world’s largest technology companies to provide this service. During my daily activities as a Cloud Solutions Architect (aka Pre-Sales Engineer), I listen to many customers tell us about their “hopes and dreams” regarding moving legacy workloads to the cloud. These are definitely “Cloud Stubborn”. But when it comes to legacy applications based on IBM Power one of their common responses is:

“It is impossible to move my IBM Power-based application to the cloud.”

Of course, that begs the question “Why not?” The answer is often one of these:

  1. “My application is based on IBM’s AS/400 or more recently called IBMi, or IBM AIX.”
  2. “My application has hard-coded IP addresses compiled into the source code.”
  3. “There is no longer anyone around who knows about the code or applications that are still running.”
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The safest way to live test your ransomware, malware, virus defenses

You aren’t going to release a live virus on your production system, so how do you test your defenses?

In the article “The State of Ransomware in 2020“, research suggests that every 11 seconds, some business is being attacked by a cybercriminal. And in the report “The State of Ransomware 2021“, the frequency of attacks is up year over year along with the diversity of business types being attacked. Lower in the same report, you can see details from the various organizations being attacked.

Couple this with “Cybersecurity Talent Crunch to Create 350 Million Unfilled Jobs Globally by 2021,” and it is apparent that many companies will have to rely on existing worker talent to combat an ever-increasing threat. Of course, high-tech companies have high-tech talent, but what about all the other types of organizations like Government, Education, Service Industry, and Manufacturing. We all like to think we have skilled workers regardless of our industry. Still, under this new growing threat, our current in-house cybersecurity skills might not be at the level needed to provide maximum safeguard.

So what are we to do?

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Prove your IBM i Backup is Recoverable: The Cloud Way

Beyond having checklists and runbooks, what else can you do to test your backups?

In the comprehensive article called “How to Prove Your IBM i is Recoverable without a Real DR Test,” Tom Huntington from HelpSystems details all the IBM i Save Commands and system objects that should be included within a comprehensive backup. By performing an audit of your backup process, you might identify missing components that prevent you from doing the worst-case scenario, a full system restore. It is a great article that IBM i administrators should review.

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Application Archiving in the Cloud

Introducing “Cold Storage” of complete application systems in the Cloud.

Traditional application archiving is often described in one of two ways:

1) Archiving – this is where you have an application that has accumulated large amounts of historical data that exists on Tier 1 primary storage within the data center. The basic concept is that you take some of the older, infrequently accessed data and “archive” it or move it to some other read-only data warehouse that utilizes less expensive storage. The idea is to save money by reducing the pressure to expand more expensive storage and potentially reduce those costs over time. The application system remains “active” but with only newer relevant data.

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Cloud Taxonomy

Non-Production Use Cases for the Cloud.

The following use cases are potential ways to use the cloud for non-production use cases. The key is to deliver “quickly” the infrastructure needed to perform a specific need or task. Waiting weeks for infrastructure delivery should be considered an “anti-pattern” since the cumulative time of waiting over the course of a project would be considerable. Building internal resource delivery processes with slow delivery times goes against the concepts described in works such as “The Phoenix Project,” “The Goal,” and “Healthcare Digital Transformation.” Here are a few ideas:

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Resetting QA Test Data: The Cloud Way

Stop running database scripts to reset test data, there is a better way.

One of the common use-case problems we hear about from QA Teams is figuring out how to reset test data once any testing activity has been performed on a complex test environment. In most cases, the stories describe multi-day or multi-week processes that must be completed to reset a test system back to some known data state. If you don’t do a reset, then you are accumulating technical debt in your test data. Any repetitive testing results become suspect, and quality decisions can not be made from the testing results. In some cases, it isn’t possible to start a new iteration of QA testing without first resetting your test data from the prior test run.

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Leverage the Cloud to help consolidate on-prem systems

Use the Cloud as your “sandbox” to experiment and do R&D for on-prem systems.

This document discusses using a cloud model to architecturally validate the possibility of consolidating multiple application servers or instances into a smaller number of physical resources that will ultimately remain on-prem. For this document, the cloud offering from Skytap is used as the example cloud for the possible approach, although the same techniques can be leveraged in other cloud offerings.

It is important to note that this document is not advocating for reengineering applications from on-prem to the cloud, though that is a possibility. Instead, the focus of this document is to describe how to leverage the cloud to help validate the design of re-organizing a large number of physical on-prem servers down to a smaller number of resources also hosted on-prem. In this case, the cloud is used as the R&D “sandbox” for key design assumptions.

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