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as/400SAP and IBM have a long track record of mutual success, with the SAP running on AS/400 (now known as IBM i or iSeries) as a true standout. SAP users have been able to attain high levels of system performance and reliability as well as compelling economics with AS/400. At 30, however, IBM i is starting to show its age as an on-premises solution. The challenge for companies that run SAP on IBM i is to “future proof” their investment. This is possible with new IBM cloud hosting options for AS/400.

Background: The Long History of SAP on iSeries

Launched in 1988, the IBM Application System (AS) 400, quickly became one of the world’s most successful midrange computer systems. It offered an affordable alternative to mainframes. At its peak, there were more than 100,000 AS/400s in operation worldwide. The technology evolved over the years. Originally, it ran AIX, a form of Unix. Now, most IBM i systems run Linux.

SAP has maintained a long-running, mutually auspicious relationship with IBM i. Indeed SAP was founded by former IBMers. Many SAP customers, especially mid-sized companies, run their SAP landscapes on IBM i. Large enterprises use it as well. Their reasons include IBM i’s famous stability, reliability and high performance. IBM i also features backward compatibility, which is useful for ERP users with long-term customization programs in effect.

The Challenges of Running AS/400 Today

IBM i continues to run well on-premises. If you rely on it for SAP, there is no urgent need to change the status quo. However, several factors are making it increasingly expensive and inconvenient to keep IBM i in-house. For one thing, there’s a looming skills shortage as experienced IBM i personnel start to retire. Not enough up-and-coming IT professionals are learning AIX and SAP on iSeries.

The rise of new, cloud-oriented requirements in enterprise architecture make it imperative that SAP landscapes integrate easily across multiple clouds. It’s also expected that SAP will have streamlined integrated with other applications. While this is possible for IBM i on-premises, it may require adding costly, maintenance-intensive middleware.

The Costs of Abandoning AS/400

You can, of course, migrate off of IBM i. There may some appeal to this idea, but the decision comes with some serious costs. For instance, you will need a multiple off-the-shelf X86 servers to replace one IBM i machine. You’ll be facing Capital Expense (CapEx) outlays as well as increase Operating Expense (OpEx) for data center rack space and personnel.

At the software layer, you’ll also face some pretty major hassles. For those who have run SAP on IBM i for years, there will be quite a few snags and “gotchas” in migrating to the X86 platform. All of these difficulties can be overcome, but it will take time and money.

The Future-Proof Decision: SAP in an IBM i Private Cloud

The maturing of the IBM cloud now makes it possible to avoid the stay/go decision about SAP on IBM i on-premises. We can host SAP on our IBM i private cloud platform. This approach lets you preserve the advantages of running SAP on IBM i while helping you cut down on the expense and challenge of running it on-premises.

Hosting SAP in the IBM i cloud contributes to more efficient capacity utilization. IBM i tends to be an expensive system. Unused resources like storage, memory or CPU capacity are a waste of money. In the cloud, you only pay for the resources you use.

Running SAP on IBM i in the cloud lets your business be potentially more agile. It’s easier and faster to scale up and down or make changes to your SAP landscape in the cloud. You can also smoothly integrate with vendors and partners through the IBM i cloud. CapEx and OpEx will fall as you reduce complexity and drop on-premises hosting along with associated maintenance. Your IBM i staffing challenges will be less arduous. That becomes our problem, and we’ve got it solved. And, you’ll avoid the difficulties of migrating off the platform.

Cloud hosting places your SAP on IBM i into a future state. The move mitigates most, if not all, of the impending problems associated with keeping SAP on IBM i on-premises. You’re future-proof.

Working with a Partner on SAP in the IBM Cloud

Getting to a future-proof SAP landscape on IBM i requires working with the right partner and cloud hosting provider. When evaluating such a partner, it’s important to consider more than just their SAP experience. Their knowledge of IBM i is equally, if not more important. This is our strength.

We offer an IBM private cloud hosting service that is built for SAP on IBM i. You get a high-performing, dynamic cloud environment for your SAP landscape.  This includes enterprise-grade architecture and security.

We are the largest IBM i SAP Basis team in the US. We offer our own custom-built enterprise cloud for IBM i. We give you the benefit of many SAP/IBM i cloud technical competencies. These include expertise in IBM hardware and software, SAP cloud migration and SAP operations. We deliver proactive performance tuning for your SAP instance in the IBM i cloud.

We have a long track record of successful project management, including planning and executing complex technological transformations like migrating SAP to IBM i in the cloud. Our approach minimizes disruption and contains costs. We help you weigh your options and then design a solution that suits your business.

Curtis Gaska - Solution Architect

Curtis Gaska is a solution architect on Symmetry's expert SA team, delivering complete SAP® technical solutions from upgrades to complex landscape implementations. Curtis pairs his sound SAP technical expertise with sales skills to knowledgably advise clients, and prospective clients of Symmetry’s services and product offerings throughout each stage of the sales cycle.

Curtis has a unique ability to deliver technical knowledge to create customs solutions per the client requirements, by not only taking the technical specifications into consideration but also the business drivers particular to that organization in turn creating an optimal SAP environment. This skilled approached includes scoping, planning, and execution of various projects including Migrations/Upgrades/Installs, Hosting and ongoing Managed Services. He also stays abreast of the latest technologies such as road mapping solutions for client’s to leverage SAP HANA® in their current environment to then be hosted in Symmetry’s state-of- the -art Datacenter.