Enterprises looking for a way to modernise legacy AS/400 workloads now have a new option: Move them onto Google Cloud Platform.
Google won’t host your old AS/400 for you, but it is renting time on IBM Power Systems servers, the AS/400’s architectural successors. Its announcement follows a similar one from Microsoft in September.
At the same time, Google is introducing a Premium Support plan to maintain high-availability services, making the GCP more attractive to CIOs averse to down-time.
IBM introduced its AS/400 midrange computers in 1988, shipping over half a million units over the next decade. They were succeeded by the iSeries server and later the Power Systems range, while the operating system they ran, OS/400, has been replaced by IBM i. Today’s systems can — and sometimes do — still run much of the same software.
Vormittag Associates Inc. (VAI), a developer of enterprise management software in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., still targets the platform and is one of the companies, along with its customers, that stands to benefit from Google’s and Microsoft’s moves.
Its software now runs on IBM i but “it goes back to the heritage of System i and iSeries, and way back to the AS/400 days,” says VAI’s CIO Kevin Beasley. “Now Google hosts IBM i, IBM hosts it, Microsoft hosts it. … Back when we started there weren't many places that you could actually find IBM i hosted.”
Thousands of other companies are still running systems built on the old AS/400 architecture, according to all400s.com, a website that tracks job offerings for IT workers with AS/400 skills, prompting the cloud giants to look for ways to serve these businesses.
Microsoft introduced IBM Power9 instances to its Azure cloud last Fall with the help of another Seattle company, Skytap. Google began quietly offering access to IBM Power Systems servers running AIX, IBM’s own flavour of Unix, around the same time.
This week Google took the wraps off a fuller offering, now also able to run Linux on IBM Power and the successor to the AS/400, IBM i.
Among the applications that run on IBM i are SAP, Oracle and IBM’s own DB2 database. Putting these into the cloud will allow enterprises to link them with more modern technologies.
In Google’s case, that means giving legacy apps private API access to other Google Cloud resources, and allocating private IP addresses to each Power Systems logical partition, all on the same bill as other cloud services.
Alongside the Power Systems servers, Google is also introducing a premium 24/7 support plan with 15-minute response time and a cloud API for integration with an enterprise’s own IT support system, for any cloud customer willing to pay the price. Pricing starts at $150,000 per year, plus a percentage of spend on the services supported.