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Technology Focus: The Ranks of Cloud Hosting Providers for IBM i Continue to Burgeon

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It can be tempting to save on systems operations costs by turning to a cloud hosting service. However, connectivity, security, and loss of control remain significant issues.

 

Cloud hosting is one of those ideas whose time seems to have arrived. The cost savings of managing in-house servers combined with the economies of scale that hosting providers can enjoy by offering such services to many companies on their own in-house systems, coupled with the ubiquity of the Internet, make hosting an attractive option on both sides of the table.

 

Historically, some issues that arise for IT departments in general are slow to percolate into the IBM i market, but in this case the often-strong economic arguments in favor of cloud hosting are making enterprises of varying sizes consider it closely. The attractions of such a strategy besides infrastructure-costs avoidance include the ability to pay only according to the services an enterprise needs, the flexibility of adding or diminishing resources as required temporarily, and the physical security of host services' large data centers as compared to the possibly ad hoc nature of server security in businesses with a non-IT focus, to mention only the most prominent.

 

Hosting breaks down into three broad areas: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). In general, IaaS provides the broadest service profile, offering not just virtual servers for software and employee activity hosting, but network connectivity, website hosting, and complete operational oversight. PaaS typically offers on-demand access to additional computing resources for special situations, such as application development and testing, but doesn't usually involve outsourcing the systems handling production environments or routine functions such as accounting. SaaS offers specific applications running on remote servers but often leaves other elements of IT infrastructure in-house. This article will focus on IaaS providers specifically for IBM i servers.

 

Hosting Issues Specific to the IBM i Market

Despite the potential for cost savings at many enterprises, there is still resistance among IBM i user companies.

 

"The two top reasons for resistance to switching to hosted IT operations are connectivity and our potential ability to respond to user requests, such as restarting printers and helping with password resets," notes Paul Fuller, owner at First Option IT. "We respond to these by reviewing the terms of our Service-Level Agreement (SLA), giving them a demo of our help desk, and by discussing the types of information our team will need from the customer to address and resolve issues."

 

"Many are concerned about web connectivity," relates Bob Losey, president of Source Data Products. " 'What happens when I lose access to the Internet?' While there are options for redundancy, some users, particularly users in remote areas or with unreliable Internet, will not consider hosting for this reason. Other reservations are intensified by prominent stories of significant security breaches. A third important reason is concerns about application licensing and IBM i OS version levels. Depending on the software provider, the fee to move keyed software to another server may not make the change cost-effective. In other cases, the customer's OS version level may be old, and the users may determine it's not cost-effective to upgrade to a newer version."

 

Losey's company counters such objections by pointing out some inherent strengths of the IBM i. "The native IBM i architecture provides greater security and reliability than most other popular operating systems. Most knowledgeable IBM i users know about IBM i object-oriented architecture and the security inherent with User Profile. If needed, newer releases of IBM i can provide for encrypted data at rest. Connection between a cloud hosting service and the IBM i users' VPN and private IP addresses provides for encrypted communication to a location that cannot easily be found by hackers. Those IBM i users that understand these concepts host their IBM i applications without reservation. The fundamentals of hosting is a better approach than an on-premise server, so successful users will discover and include redundant Internet connections in their solution."

 

The Future of Hosting Services

Both vendors see a bright future for hosting services in the IBM i market, given a few caveats.

 

"There is a great opportunity to combine hosting (operations) and consulting services," confides First Option's Fuller. "But there is also a prospective customer concern that lack of quality consulting resources will prevent their RPG applications from moving forward as their business grows. The challenge will be to convince executives that the RPG-based applications that are currently running the business can not only be hosted but modified and modernized to meet new business requirements."

 

"I see several challenges," points out Source Data's Losey. "First, many users are on third-party software that is outdated, not on support, and the software provider has very expensive pricing to change to a newer platform. Users ask if we can help with this. We really can't. Second, as with any market, I suspect IBM i hosting will become more competitive. Consequently, I would expect many new providers to overstate their capabilities and underperform. Third, when selecting an IBM i hosting solution, I encounter more people in the evaluation process without an understanding of IBM i. My concern is that this group of decision-makers may be prone to poor choices and overpaying."

 

Cloud Hosting Resources for IBM i

The listings below focus on providers offering IBM i hosting services via the cloud. The number of vendors offering more limited cloud services, such as backups and business continuity only, or specific kinds of hosted applications, are too numerous to be mentioned here, although some vendors mentioned in this article may also provide those. In-house application-management services should not be assumed to be included unless specifically contracted with the providers. The vendors included here may provide many other kinds of services in addition to the ones mentioned. Be sure to consult each provider's website via the links provided to learn details of the cloud services and other available options.

 

Some service providers offer what are called Tier 3 and Tier 4 services. Tier 3 is usually defined as 99.98 percent availability and may be vulnerable to situations that affect multiple infrastructure components concurrently. Tier 4 is usually defined as 99.99 percent (or higher) availability and means the data center offers complete component redundancy and can provide server availability except in extreme or catastrophic circumstances.

 

Abacus Solutions

Heritage Hosting

Heritage Hosting accommodates users with older AS/400, iSeries, System i, and Power Systems servers. Offerings include hardware relocation services, basic operations management, daily backups, and basic network management as contracted as well as shifting operations from production to various levels of archive states until there is no further use for the affected data.

 

Able-One Systems

Cloud Computing and Hosting

Able-One provides hosted infrastructure, cloud backup and storage, and hosted backup and disaster recovery services for IBM i servers. The company also offers private cloud deployment services.

 

Baseline Data Services

Hosting Services

Baseline offers hosting services for IBM i servers, including those running AIX and Linux. Services include software replication, physical server migration to virtual machines, intrusion prevention, backup and continuity, and high availability.

 

BDK

Cloud Services and Hosting

BDK offers IBM i hosting at its Tier 3 data center, managed services on IBM i servers at customer locations, application hosting, disaster recovery, and private data cloud planning and implementation.

 

Bluechip

Managed Hosting

UK-based Bluechip's managed hosting services for IBM i servers include Tier 3 and 4 design facilities and 99.995 percent availability. The company also offers cloud-based management for servers located at the customer's site.

 

BPSolutions

IBM Power Cloud Hosting

Netherlands-based BPSolutions provides hosting for IBM i servers, including those running AIX and Linux.

   

CAS Severn

Cloud Hosting

CAS Severn administers IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services in public, private, and hybrid cloud environments for IBM i servers, as well as security and compliance, storage management and backup, and systems integration services.

 

Champion Solutions Group

Virtualization and Cloud Computing Services

Champion's services include server virtualization, storage virtualization, development of cloud storage strategies, application virtualization, cloud-based services and support, and desktop virtualization.

 

CMA Technology Solutions

FastCloud for Power i

FastCloud for Power i provides secure hosting and remote managed services for IBM i servers. Features include system operations and administration, automated alerts, disaster recovery, OS updates and PTF installations, and functional testing.

 

Connectria

Cloud Server for the IBM i

Cloud Server for the IBM i, including servers running AIX and Linux, provides virtual machines for client use ranging from 685 CPW to 60,000 CPW. Escalating service levels also include managed hosting, remote administration and monitoring of customer-site systems, and disaster recovery.

 

Custom Managed Hosting

Custom Managed Hosting provides remote hosting services for IBM i and mixed, multiplatform environments, including Domino and WebSphere environments. Escalating service levels also include remote administration and monitoring of customer-site systems, disaster recovery, and HIPAA-compliant hosting.

 

CPS Technology Solutions

CPS iSeries Hosting

CPS iSeries Hosting includes application hosting, performance analysis and tuning, LPAR setup, PTF and release update management, and high-availability and disaster recovery services using CPS servers.

 

Databalance

Cloud Computing Services

Netherlands-based Databalance offers hosting, storage, high-availability, and replication services for IBM i servers via the cloud.

 

Datanational Corporation

System Management and Hosting

Datanational offers hosting services for IBM i that include hardware and application software monitoring, automated job scheduling, system updates and fixes, performance and disk space monitoring, system connectivity and support, and change management. 

 

Evolution Systems

Evo Power Cloud for i

Australian company Evolution Systems' cloud offering provides hosting platforms for custom software applications that run on IBM i, as well as testing environments, disaster recovery, and other managed services.

 

First Option IT

IBM i Hosting

First Option IT's IBM i hosting service maintains software applications of small-to-medium-sized businesses on First Option's servers. The service options include shared or dedicated LPARs, help desk, daily backups, error detection, and PTF installations.

  

IBM Corporation

IBM Global Technology Services

IBM offers numerous cloud-related services, including hosting, remote management, multiplatform management, helping enterprises establish themselves as managed service providers, and marketing of cloud-based applications.

 

IBM Cloud Manager with Open Stack for Power Systems

IBM Cloud Manager with Open Stack for Power Systems is an entry-level cloud solution that works with Power Systems servers to manage private, public, or hybrid cloud infrastructures. Options include a self-service portal, OpenStack APIs for customization, virtualized management of applications and technology levels, and management of all IBM environments and hypervisors.

 

Smart Cloud Services and Technologies for the Enterprise

Smart Cloud Services and Technologies for the Enterprise is a cloud-service delivery platform that offers two tiers of service, software that includes templates for assembling cloud services, and other features.

 

iInTheCloud

iInTheCloud

iInTheCloud is a hosting service for Power Systems servers at the company's Tier 3 data center. Options include AIX and Linux partitions, high-availability, backups via a Virtual Tape Library, PTFs, replication, system administration, and daily systems management.

 

Infor

Infor System i Business Cloud

Infor System i Business Cloud offers a spectrum of cloud-based services for IBM i servers, ranging from backups and high availability through management of servers at customer sites to complete systems hosting.

 

iTech Solutions Group

Power System Hosting

Power System Hosting lets remote users run their businesses on iTech's servers on the customer's choice of OS. Other services include disaster recovery, high availability, and managed services.

  

Key Information Systems

KeyCloud

KeyCloud offers IaaS, hosting, disaster recovery, and backup services, primarily in Arizona and California, on its Power Systems and Intel servers running iOS, AIX, Linux, and Windows. Options include virtual and dedicated machines, HIPAA and PCI compliance, 99.999 percent uptime, and network security features.

    

Logicalis

Infrastructure as a Service

Logicalis offers IaaS services for IBM i servers that provides the servers, network, storage, and bandwidth at its Tier 3 hosting facility.

 

Logicalis UK

IBM POWER7 Cloud Services Platform

Logicalis UK provides computing-as-a-service, remote hosting, system monitoring, cloud-migration readiness assessments, and support for AIX and Linux environments on Power7 systems.

 

Midland Information Systems

Cloud Hosting

Midland has established a Tier 3 data center for hosting IBM i servers, including servers running AIX, Linux, and Windows. The data center is SAS70-, SSAE16-, and HIPAA-compliant and uses multiple sites to provide disaster recovery services. Other services include storage, security, database administration, and system management.

    

MindSHIFT

Managed Hosting

MindSHIFT servers host applications from IBM i, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems on a 24/7/365 basis. Services include device and application monitoring, patch management, antivirus, and engineering support.

 

OnX Managed Services 

Managed iSeries-as-a-Service

OnX hosts and manages IBM i servers in their data center or in remote client centers on a 24/7/365 basis, which includes meeting a range of government and regulatory compliances, high availability, monitoring, alerts, auditing support, and ITIL best practices.

 

Nika Systemi

Cloud AS/400 IBM i

Italian-based Nika Systemi provides hosting services for IBM i servers.

 

Oxford Networks

IBM Power Cloud

Oxford Networks hosts IBM i servers, including those running AIX and Linux, with optional WAN connectivity in addition to via the Internet. Additional options include business continuity services, backups, records retention, and virtual LPAR customization.

 

Prominic

IBM Notes in the Prominic Cloud

Prominic will host enterprise IBM Notes 9 mail and application activity and archives, including client machines. Prominic also offers disaster recovery services for Notes/Domino systems.

 

Prominic Public Cloud VMs

Prominic can provide virtual machine services for IBM i servers running Linux via the cloud on a three-tiered system of escalating costs and services.

 

Server Hosting

Prominic.net offers dedicated hosting for IBM i servers on a five-tier plan of escalating costs and services.

 

RZKH

Services

Denmark-based RZKH provides hosting, housing, and hardware and software services for IBM i users.

 

Secure Infrastructure and Services

IBM i Hosting | Production

Secure hosts IBM i workloads or entire systems in its Tier 3 data center with three different levels of service. The most basic service includes a dedicated account manager, 24/7/365 infrastructure monitoring, and secure connectivity. Other levels add standby high availability, help desk, custom network configuration, and other services.

 

Sirius Computer Solutions

Power Cloud Solutions

Sirius offers Power 720 CPW server performance for hosting customers, including those running earlier servers. Users can run production, development, quality assurance, high availability, and disaster recovery workloads.

 

SIS

Managed Platform Hosting

SIS services include dedicated platform hosting, business continuity and disaster recovery, backup and storage, remote systems monitoring, and administration.

 

Site Ox

Site Ox

Site Ox provides hosting for IBM i servers and also leases partitions on IBM i servers belonging to itself or other companies. Site Ox also offers regulatory compliance services running on legacy systems and disaster recovery services.

 

Source Data Products

Cloud400 IBM i

Cloud400 IBM i provides hosting services for all IBM i servers at its bomb-proof data center. Services include daily backups, PTF upgrades, no software application license fees, and a 60-day free trial.

 

StorTrust

IBM iSeries/OS400 Hosting

StorTrust's IBM i hosting service includes systems administration and operations, disaster recovery and replication, JBoss and WebLogic application servers, Oracle and Siebel ERP application support, and support for Oracle, DB2, and Informix databases.

 

Symmetry Corporation

i in the Sky

Symmetry's i in the Sky is a group of cloud-hosting solutions for hosting your in-house corporate software, software from third parties such as SAP, or software your company wants to offer other companies on a SaaS basis. It also includes disaster recovery services for these scenarios and related consulting services.

 

Syntax

IBM iSeries Cloud Hosting Solutions

Syntax provides a suite of managed services for enterprises using IBM i servers. Services include monitoring of vital server functions and logs, SQL databases, network communications, virtualization, and infrastructure performance tuning.

 

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. He is currently CEO of John Ghrist Agency, a marketing communications firm for technology companies. You can reach him at ghrist@comcast.net.

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    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

     

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • Ask the RDi Experts

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericWatch this recording where Jim Buck, Susan Gantner, and Charlie Guarino answered your questions, including:

    • What are the “hidden gems” in RDi that can make me more productive?
    • What makes RDi Debug better than the STRDBG green screen debugger?
    • How can RDi help me find out if I’ve tested all lines of a program?
    • What’s the best way to transition from PDM to RDi?
    • How do I convince my long-term developers to use RDi?

    This is a unique, online opportunity to hear how you can get more out of RDi.

     

  • Node.js on IBM i Webinar Series Pt. 2: Setting Up Your Development Tools

    Profound Logic Software, Inc.Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. In Part 2, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Attend this webinar to learn:

    • Different tools to develop Node.js applications on IBM i
    • Debugging Node.js
    • The basics of Git and tools to help those new to it
    • Using NodeRun.com as a pre-built development environment

     

     

  • Inside the Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.

     

  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.

     

     

  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.