It was about some 29 years ago, When AS/400 server platform came into existence and started serving the midsized companies for their computing needs. Since then, this platform has evolved in a big way. With each major progression in offerings and technological changes, the server’s name kept changing from AS/400 to iSeries, then Systemi and now the truly modern IBM i machines. Right from dumb terminals to mobile consoles and from dedicated Infrastructure to highly virtualized computing environment, IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries platforms have always been on par or even ahead in the race when it came to other open system platforms and being innovative and providing technologically advanced hosting infrastructure.
Many IT professionals still call it the AS/400 platform, which is not fair and does not give due credit to the IBM i platform, as the latest generation of the IBM i servers are far more open, more powerful and far more technologically advanced than what AS/400 and iSeries servers once used to be. I will be using all the names of this platform while referring to this server for common understanding.
Let’s see what works in favour of the IBM i platform when it comes to being eligible for a true cloud ready platform.
Why is the IBM i platform the most eligible server to be available as a service on the cloud model?
- Cloud readiness for IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries has been there for years from a technology standpoint
Much before x86-based computing environment started adopting a virtualization concept, the IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries environment truly provided a virtualized environment right at the HW layer by introducing the concept of Logical Partitions (LPARs) in 1999.
However, despite being the pioneers in introducing virtualization at the server level, it is sad that the platform still lacks the true business case for hosting the IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries application environment in a cloud-like environment.
- Ensuring segregation of data and resources in case of a multi-tenant environment
Through the POWER hypervisor and LPAR structure, the data and resources are segregated even beyond the OS layer and the segregation can be achieved at the hardware-resource level.
- Environment has a strong support roadmap and commitment from IBM
Generally, it’s very rare for any OEM for any platform to provide support for more than five years. But in case of IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries, IBM has shown its commitment toward this AS/400 system and clearly charted out a roadmap of this platform for the next 10 years.
One has to wonder that with such a great support roadmap, why is it that we still do not see this server platform being offered in the mainstream as the AS/400 cloud hosting platform by major cloud providers out there in the market. And why do all discussions on IBM i (AS/400) and iSeries cloud just stop at the conclusion that the “platform is just not supported on the cloud?”
While we clearly understand that technically, there is no limitation on this platform which can prevent it from being offered in a cloud model; there are, however, a few non-technological challenges which prevent this platform from being available on mainstream cloud as a truly multitenant, flexible compute, pay-as-you-go and IaaS/PaaS models by various cloud providers.