February 17, 2021 Alex Woody
Companies that want to run IBM i workloads on Google Cloud will have to wait a bit longer as the alpha version of the public cloud service is still limited and there are no signs of it coming to the public soon.
It’s been nearly three years since we first announced the news about the IBM-Google Cloud partnership. At the first POWER Up conference in San Antonio, Texas, in May 2018, IBM i chief architect Steve Will said the two companies would run IBM i and AIX instances on Power Systems servers installed in Google Cloud data centers. We publicly discussed the plans we made. Will says Google Cloud is the “gateway” for providing IBM i and AIX runtimes in public cloud services.
The plan went forward, and at the Google Next 2019 event in April 2019, Google Cloud engineers shared details of their Power Systems environment, including Linux, IBM i, and AIX. During a session at the conference featured in September 2019, Google employees will need to run the S922 server on US-East 4, the Google Cloud data center in northern Virginia, for their IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud service. I made it clear that there is. (You can continue to view the session record here.)
Customers can access a Power Systems environment with half the Power9 cores and 4GB of RAM and scale to an environment with 192 cores and 64TB of RAM. IBM and Google shared control of the environment, Google was responsible for the hardware, and IBM was responsible for running the system software and firmware. The customer was responsible for maintaining everything beyond the operating system.
By October 2019, the AIX portion of the IBM Power Systems for Google Cloud offering was generally available (along with Linux on Power), but the IBM i component was not yet GA. When the IT jungle contacted Google Cloud in early 2020, a Google Cloud representative said he expected the IBM iIaaS offering to be available in the first half of 2020.
However, the announcement of IBM i on Google Cloud has not yet been realized, and IBM i is not yet listed as a supported environment on Google Cloud web pages. I decided to check in to Google Cloud to see what was blocking the progress of the offer form. An official at one company said the product was still in a limited alpha version and wider availability was up to IBM.
I asked IBM about plans for the IBM i on Google Cloud offering. An IBM spokesman said this was the only communication offered on this issue.
“IBM is deeply committed to modernizing the IBM i community and client environment. For both direct clients and clients served by a rich ecosystem of partners, IBM is moving to the hybrid multi-cloud model of choice. The focus is on accelerating. “
IBM has avoided answering questions about the state of IBM i on Google Cloud, so we need to guess what the future of the offering will be. Approximately three years after starting to use Google Cloud on the offering, after 18 months of limited alpha testing, are there any technical barriers to advancing the open beta, if not a full GA release? Seems suspicious. ..
This raises the possibility that business considerations were a factor in IBM’s reluctance to move IBM i on Google Cloud. Of course, IBM Cloud sells access to IBM i, AIX, and Linux environments through the IBM Power Systems Virtual Server cloud offering, so it competes directly with Power Systems running on Google Cloud.
While Google’s contract with IBM for IBM i IaaS appears to be life-sustaining, IBM continues to move forward with Skytap, a Seattle, Washington company that acts as an intermediary between customers and public cloud vendors.
In 2018, Skytap and Microsoft announced an agreement to deploy the IBM iIaaS offering environment on the Azure cloud. Under the terms of that offering, Skytap manages the Power Systems infrastructure running in the Azure datacenter on behalf of the client. The client is presented with a console from Skytap to manage all Azure environments (Skytap also has some clever approaches to consolidating complex enterprise computing environments, before entering the cloud business. Make them easier to manage as part of the modernization initiative that was their area of expertise). The Skytaps business using both IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure is still underway, and if last week’s news is any sign, it looks like it’s expanding.
Therefore, the magic number for the public cloud IBM i environment will clearly remain at 2, at least for the foreseeable future, or until Amazon Web Services decides to join the Power Systems game. Don’t hold your breath on one of them.
IBM i On Google Cloud is not GA yet
Google also has a public power system cloud
Will says Google is approaching the launch of the IBM i cloud service
Power system security: more than the sum of its parts
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