Working with Skytap on Azure
As Skytap on Azure becomes the prevailing solution for companies looking to move their legacy but key IBM AIX and IBM iSeries workloads to cloud we will share our deep experience of migrating workloads to Skytap on Azure covering design considerations, migration approaches, networking, backup and integrating monitoring into the Azure Monitor dashboard. As always, as an independent company, our views are our own and based on our real experiences of migrating IBM Power to Skytap on Azure.
Skytap on Azure
Skytap on Azure allows IBM AIX and IBM i workloads to be migrated into Azure data centers. This is not an emulation platform, it is a true AIX and IBM Cloud environment, on IBM Power servers within Azure data centers allowing AIX and IBM i workloads to fully integrate and modernize with Azure services. Previously those seeking a cloud environment for their AIX or IBM i workloads were limited by IBM Cloud or a private cloud provider (such as L3C). Skytap on Azure now opens up a great opportunity for clients to integrate their AIX and IBM i with Azure services and have access to a true cloud environment.
Prerequisites - subscriptions and access
In order to get the Skytap service going into Azure, there are a few things you will need to do on the Azure portal itself. Of course you will need an active subscription, capable of enabling and accommodating SaaS Accounts from the Azure marketplace.
As always, do divide your Azure services into suitable resource groups, so you can provide granular access (recommended via Azure Active Directory service) and enable a more clear billing scheme.
Bear in mind that while Azure resources can be positioned within regions that themselves encompass a number of data centers, Skytap region includes a single data center. For all Skytap-based workloads that you need to spread across different data centers (for DR purposes, etc), you will have to enable more than one SaaS service from Skytap. After that, both regions will appear in your Skytap interface.
Skytap has integrated its main access features directly with a single-sign-on to Azure. You will, however, need to still manually create additional users in Skytap as in Azure in order to enable their access. The more granular things, like creating projects to manage access in Skytap, is still done on their platform.
As Skytap is a service running on Azure’s marketplace, it goes without saying that you will be able to get the benefits of a unified billing solution from both providers.
When deploying Skytap SaaS on Azure, make sure that you understand how they bill the usage of the resources as it is described in detail and prices differ for the various Skytap regions.
In general Skytap offers hourly and monthly billing, both of course, widely differing in pricing. There is also a significant benefit in buying 1 year reserved capacity, which could make up to a 50% price difference.
Skytap bills AIX and x86 instances per GB used RAM and iSeries instances per entitled capacity. A number of additional options are available for customers, who need PowerHA high availability or some additional license for the AS/400. Storage is provided in one tier and is based on encrypted SSD drives running RAID 6. Public IPs are naturally paid additionally and thus have to be used only when really needed.
Billing invoices for Skytap on Azure can be a bit general but you can find almost anything you need on your usage on the Skytap portal. There you can run reports against your specific instances and custom periods, providing a really transparent picture to your financial team.
A few words at the end are in order just for a general overview of what we have said so far. Skytap is a highly-resilient and Power-native environment for your AIX and AS/400 workloads. It needs careful planning and has some considerations that need taking into account, but will provide a strong IaaS cloud environment within Azure data centers.
The partnership with Azure is an immediate advantage to all customers, who have already worked with Azure and need a solution for their Power environments.
L3C can provide fixed price services to setup, migrate and support your AIX and IBM i workloads in Skytap on Azure giving you a robust flexible Power infrastructure with direct integration into Azure services.