My Company Plans to Migrate Off the IBM i – Now What?

Laurie LeBlanc, iTech
Laurie LeBlanc

Many executives talk about moving their business applications off the IBM i.  They think the platform is dead, courtesy of the people who have been saying this for the past 20 years.  While we know, the platform is open and offers businesses rock-solid availability, reliability, and securability.

They could also be thinking they will save money on hardware.  While that may be true, there will be more servers, requiring more space, more electricity, more cooling, and more human resources to support them.  In reality, they save nothing and perhaps spend more.  And they increase their risk of downtime and security vulnerability.

So, now that you have to deal with the board room decision, what should you do?


If the decision has not been settled, then you need to educate your management team on why the IBM i is critical to the business functioning and is also a competitive advantage.  It’s up to you to influence the decision to keep the platform.

Find out what their reasons are for wanting to migrate off the platform and get help from your business partner to help build a case for the business. Often the reason is either related to a lack of resources with IBM i skills or the belief that the IBM i is outdated.  The first problem can be resolved with the help of a company like iTech Solutions, and the second is not true.

IBM i is an open and modern platform that supports many open source languages and tools, which means the young people you are hiring have the skills to help you modernize your platform. The languages they are learning in college, PHP, Python, and SQL are all supported on IBM i. IBM has a white paper that focuses on the IBM i innovators.  You can access it here: A Platform by Innovators for Innovators.  Print it off and share it with your executive team.  Prove to them that the platform is modern.

Another common argument is that the platform is too expensive.  The truth is migrating to another platform isn’t going to save you money.  Windows servers require more resources to manage, and they are not as reliable as POWER hardware.  A recent blog post from the Seiden Group, a company that helps companies implement PHP applications on IBM i, referenced the Gartner Report titled, “Considering Leaving Legacy IBM Platforms? Beware, as Cost Savings May Disappoint, While Risking Quality”, another document worth sharing with your executive team.  You can access the blog here.

If you need help, please reach out to us.  We can help educate your executive team on what is happening today in regards to IBM i and how that can offer a competitive advantage.

Do NOT ignore your system

Being in IT, we all know about how projects tend to take much longer than we originally planned.  When moving off-platform, the process can take even longer. Sometimes companies move several parts of the application and find that there is a missing piece, and they are forced to keep their existing system for longer than planned.

Migration plans are not a reason to ignore the health and performance of your system.  Just because the workload will be moved, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t perform at its peak.  We often see companies who let maintenance lapse or don’t bother with updates when migrating to another platform.  Then they have an issue, and they have to either pay IBM a huge amount of money to come onsite to diagnose the problem or find someone who can fix it for them, which can often end up costing more than the maintenance would have cost in the first place. Without the hardware, the applications can not function; it’s best to ensure your systems are protected.

The OS is just as important

Like the system, the OS is also important, and migration plans are not a legitimate reason to get behind in Technology Refreshes or PTF’s.  Technology Refreshes include fixes and enhancements.  Many times these enhancements are made to improve security, such as to no longer provide support for out of date ciphers.  Deciding not to keep your OS current poses a security risk to your system, which you should not ignore because you plan to migrate.

If you don’t pay your software maintenance (SWMA), you are not entitled to PTF’s or new releases.  If you take the risk of not paying the SWMA, you could find yourself in a very bad situation.  If the fix you need exists but, you are not entitled to it, then you either suffer from the problem or you pay the fees to reinstate the SWMA.

Cloud Option

If you don’t want to maintain hardware or software, you have the option of moving your workload to a cloud provider and including Managed Services to ensure that the system is available, reliable, and secure.  If you’ve already begun to migrate some of the workloads off the platform, then the resources you need to support the current workload may be significantly lower than when you purchased your POWER systems.  Since Cloud hosting is based on the resources you need, this could be a good time to consider a transition to the cloud.

Cloud for Archives

It’s not just about moving off the platform.  Once you do migrate the applications to another platform, you still have archive data that you likely will need access to for some time.  Archive mode is a good time to migrate to a cloud-hosted infrastructure because you will not need to have lots of processing power for your users.  Since cloud hosting is based on the resources you are entitled to consume, you can often save money by moving to the cloud when you have archive data.

If you are running unsupported OS releases, moving to the cloud will cost you more too.  Just like you, the provider has to pay premium maintenance for extended support of the OS.  This cost will be passed down to you.  By keeping current, you can keep the costs down later.

Regulations are another reason to keep your OS current, whether on-premise or in the cloud.  No matter what regulation you must comply with, keeping the OS patched is a requirement.  As I mentioned above, all new security enhancements come in the form of Technology Refreshes, PTF’s or new releases, which means you need to keep current not only to reduce risk but also for compliance.

Companies often base their backup retention policies on compliance requirements.  How long do you need to have access to your backups after you go off-platform?  It’s important to know how you will archive that information and also to know how you will restore it if needed.  These are things that a cloud provider can help you address.

You can reach out to iTech at [email protected] if you have an interest in moving your archive to the cloud.

Murphy’s law always comes into play, and projects take longer than we plan, which means you can’t neglect your IBM i, even if you plan to migrate off.  The risk is too high.

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