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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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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Chaos Engineering for Traditional Applications

Not all on-prem applications have a future in the cloud, but can those same on-prem applications leverage cloud-like capabilities to help make them more reliable?

In 2011 Netflix introduced the tool called Chaos Monkey to inject random failures into their cloud architecture as a strategy to identify design weaknesses. Fast forward to today, the concept of resiliency engineering has evolved, creating jobs called “Chaos Engineer.” Many companies like Twilio, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, and LinkedIn, use chaos as a way to understand their distributed systems and architectures.

But all of these companies are based on cloud-native architectures, and so the question is:

Can Chaos Engineering be applied to traditional applications that run in the data-center and will probably never be moved to the cloud?

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The Cloud Dilemma

What to do with traditional on-prem applications that don’t appear to have a path to the cloud?

“My app can’t be moved to the cloud…..it is based on AIX or IBMi…….”

What is implied is that the app owner doesn’t want to re-engineer their application to all use cloud-native services, but instead wants to do a classic lift-and-shift of their application without making any application code changes. Since IBMi (AS/400) and AIX are based on PowerPC and not x86, the path the cloud is not apparent for these types of applications.

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