Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?



  • Not sure if this is the best place to ask this or not.. but where I work, one of our major systems is an IBM iSeries AS400 system and it is one that has backups being sent off site to a cloud DR company (baseline-data.com) who supports recovery of this type of system. We also send some Windows server backups but of course those will be supported by everyone.

    The problem is that our DR company is not good and very expensive. I am trying to look around for a replacement. The only company that comes to mind right now is Veeam but I don't think they support iSeries. The only other caveat with this is that we need to ensure that our data stays state-side as we are in the banking industry.

    I just figured I would see if I could get any suggestions while I start researching.



  • I have no clue. I have not dealt with AS400 for over a decade.



  • Veeam definitely does not support iSeries. They support Windows, Linux, Hyper-V, and VMware only.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Veeam definitely does not support iSeries. They support Windows, Linux, Hyper-V, and VMware only.

    That seems to be what I'm finding out as I've researched. Any idea of DR companies that do support them?



  • No one that does "normal" DR is going to be able to help you. The iSeries uses an IBM Power architecture (so you can't recover to anything that isn't Power based), and a special architecture called System i, and normally runs a unique OS. You must have all three components to be able to do DR. Because it is totally unique on both hardware and software, your DR facility must use IBM System i as well to be able to help you.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Veeam definitely does not support iSeries. They support Windows, Linux, Hyper-V, and VMware only.

    That seems to be what I'm finding out as I've researched. Any idea of DR companies that do support them?

    No, haven't seen anyone using System i in a very long time. MOst companies that choose System i do so with the intent of being very focused on a single site, not having flexibility for things like failover, and depending on IBM support for everything as IBM alone has the full capability to support the proprietary system.

    It's both very unique and very niche. Makes it super difficult to do anything with. I think nearly everyone builds their own DR if they need it for that. System i is for ultra rich companies with money to spare, so typically companies using it can build their own DR without even thinking about the cost. So those looking for DR as a service are likely very few and far between.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    No one that does "normal" DR is going to be able to help you. The iSeries uses an IBM Power architecture (so you can't recover to anything that isn't Power based), and a special architecture called System i, and normally runs a unique OS. You must have all three components to be able to do DR. Because it is totally unique on both hardware and software, your DR facility must use IBM System i as well to be able to help you.

    Nice. That's what I've been gleaning as I've been reading up on iSeries systems on wikipedia. I didn't realize they were completely different architectures/systems.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    No one that does "normal" DR is going to be able to help you. The iSeries uses an IBM Power architecture (so you can't recover to anything that isn't Power based), and a special architecture called System i, and normally runs a unique OS. You must have all three components to be able to do DR. Because it is totally unique on both hardware and software, your DR facility must use IBM System i as well to be able to help you.

    Nice. That's what I've been gleaning as I've been reading up on iSeries systems on wikipedia. I didn't realize they were completely different architectures/systems.

    Oh yes, it's the same processor family as the IBM z series mainframes. All IBM products are Power, IBM makes nothing that is like anyone else. There is no AMD64 or ARM products from IBM. So if you have IBM gear, it is totally unique hardware (and often software like OS/i and AIX) and not compatible with anything else.

    Anyone buying IBM stuff is really much making a 100% IBM end to end commitment at the time of purchase.



  • Here is both your answer, and your problem. IBM offers DR for System i. Because of this, there is little reason for anyone to compete with them since all IBM customers are IBM customers. The nature of having IBM gear means the commitment has been made. So looking elsewhere for DR would be odd.

    https://www-935.ibm.com/services/business-continuity/disaster-recovery-business-continuity/



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Veeam definitely does not support iSeries. They support Windows, Linux, Hyper-V, and VMware only.

    That seems to be what I'm finding out as I've researched. Any idea of DR companies that do support them?

    No, haven't seen anyone using System i in a very long time. MOst companies that choose System i do so with the intent of being very focused on a single site, not having flexibility for things like failover, and depending on IBM support for everything as IBM alone has the full capability to support the proprietary system.

    It's both very unique and very niche. Makes it super difficult to do anything with. I think nearly everyone builds their own DR if they need it for that. System i is for ultra rich companies with money to spare, so typically companies using it can build their own DR without even thinking about the cost. So those looking for DR as a service are likely very few and far between.

    Damn. Nice man thanks for the awesome input. I know so little about this stuff....



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Here is both your answer, and your problem. IBM offers DR for System i. Because of this, there is little reason for anyone to compete with them since all IBM customers are IBM customers. The nature of having IBM gear means the commitment has been made. So looking elsewhere for DR would be odd.

    https://www-935.ibm.com/services/business-continuity/disaster-recovery-business-continuity/

    ooo thanks again. This is certainly eye opening..

    I'm not sure why my bank went with the iSeries.. I know there's a lot of regulation involved and apparently we had only a few bank systems ("cores") to choose from, and the one we went with is run on this platform.



  • Power is actually some amazing stuff. I love the Power architecture. But it is so proprietary, I'd never use it. You CAN get it and run RHEL or Suse Linux on it, and it can be insanely powerful (hence the name.) But such a pain to work with.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Power is actually some amazing stuff. I love the Power architecture. But it is so proprietary, I'd never use it. You CAN get it and run RHEL or Suse Linux on it, and it can be insanely powerful (hence the name.) But such a pain to work with.

    Why do you feel that way? I'm honestly want to know. I have little to no computer knowledge besides my limited college and job experience.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    I'm not sure why my bank went with the iSeries..

    Very common in banking because they are running code from the 1970s and 1980s that they don't know how to migrate to something modern. That's IBM's bread and butter, overpriced equipment and support for companies that have gotten "trapped" on their stuff over the years. It's often like COBOL or ALGOL based applications from another era that no one knows how to rewrite. Or it's just seen as easier to buy their way out of it and not dealing with it.

    Nearly all banks of any size have either Series i or Series z equipment partially for this reason.

    Series i is especially common for this case as it is such a silly platform. Series z mainframes are so unique and powerful that there are lots of use cases where you might want one because you need massive scale IO with "double do" processing or true single box HA. AIX boxes are screaming fast and compatible with a broad range of common software, so we see those in huge numbers in banking. Series i, though, were commonly the "baby databases" with green screen terminal apps that are lingering on and no one is sure how to migrate the data off.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Power is actually some amazing stuff. I love the Power architecture. But it is so proprietary, I'd never use it. You CAN get it and run RHEL or Suse Linux on it, and it can be insanely powerful (hence the name.) But such a pain to work with.

    Why do you feel that way? I'm honestly want to know. I have little to no computer knowledge besides my limited college and job experience.

    Not sure if you are asking why I love it or why I avoid it. LOL

    Love it: Power is possibly the fastest gear out there, totally on par with Sparc, and generally faster. Nothing realistically touches Power. Power is SO much faster than anything else. It's an extremely fast and solid platform and has some kick ass features decades ahead of things like Intel - and some that Intel still doesn't have. Hot swap processors, lock step processing, full hardware virtualization, all kinds of RAS features, they were at 5GHz clocks a decade ago, tons of hyperthreading, etc.

    Hate it: Overpriced and buying it is insanely convoluted and support depends 100% on a vendor that I would never trust. IBM doesn't use its own gear for a reason - because their support organization is garbage. They don't eat their own dogfood because they know the risks. If IBM doesn't trust it, I sure don't. IBM is a great company, and their hardware is amazing, but their support is the worst. So overpriced, impossible to configure, and dangerous support dependencies. Just not worth it unless you have insanely deep pockets and have the ability to protect against those risks.



  • One of my clients has an iSeries from 1999. They have a contract with a local company who has old units in stock, ready to take tapes and restore in case of a failure.

    I think this client is finally making head way with management to move to something more modern - I'm pushing them toward a web hosted solution, we'll see what they end up with.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    Power is actually some amazing stuff. I love the Power architecture. But it is so proprietary, I'd never use it. You CAN get it and run RHEL or Suse Linux on it, and it can be insanely powerful (hence the name.) But such a pain to work with.

    Why do you feel that way? I'm honestly want to know. I have little to no computer knowledge besides my limited college and job experience.

    Not sure if you are asking why I love it or why I avoid it. LOL

    Love it: Power is possibly the fastest gear out there, totally on par with Sparc, and generally faster. Nothing realistically touches Power. Power is SO much faster than anything else. It's an extremely fast and solid platform and has some kick ass features decades ahead of things like Intel - and some that Intel still doesn't have. Hot swap processors, lock step processing, full hardware virtualization, all kinds of RAS features, they were at 5GHz clocks a decade ago, tons of hyperthreading, etc.

    Hate it: Overpriced and buying it is insanely convoluted and support depends 100% on a vendor that I would never trust. IBM doesn't use its own gear for a reason - because their support organization is garbage. They don't eat their own dogfood because they know the risks. If IBM doesn't trust it, I sure don't. IBM is a great company, and their hardware is amazing, but their support is the worst. So overpriced, impossible to configure, and dangerous support dependencies. Just not worth it unless you have insanely deep pockets and have the ability to protect against those risks.

    Yeah I guess I was asking both.. Thanks again for the good input.

    I was also going to ask what the deal is with so many banks and other companies using these things vs just using regular high-end servers... Then I found some info online highlighting what's good about the AS400:

    • Journalling - the database itself can track what changes have been made to a particular database table meaning you get a rock solid audit log of every bit of data that's changed that's perfect for financial applications. With most databases, if you want to do this you'll have to build it yourself and if you want to retroactively build it into your software product that wasn't designed that way it'll cost you a fortune.

    • Permissioning - User accounts tie together across the entire system and can be used to control access to every part of your application and database. With most non-iSeries applications you'll end up using some third party service to tie this together (e.g. an LDAP) which is more of a headache to integrate and configure.

    • Scaling - The iSeries is rock solid for running 100s of tasks simultaneously with great handling for tasks that error. If you want your system to run faster you can just add more processing power without worrying about it. Modern applications are far more modularised to account for this with different services deployed to different servers but there's no need with an iSeries which is generally much easier to setup and administer. The performance monitoring is also great for digging into performance issues with both task level and database level performance tools built in by default. Typically on other systems you'd have to build this yourself or deploy yet another third party service. The iSeries can also process vast quantities of data without any modifications e.g. we have tables that are several terabytes big.

    • Security - The iSeries is 50+ years old so by now people have found pretty much every security flaw out there. It's likely not perfect but it's also a single machine that needs configuring and hardening. It's far less likely that you'll screw up setting up one machine compared to having to configure and secure your database, your LDAP, your application itself, any third party services you deploy etc. As an aside, DB2 doesn't let you string multiple SQL statements together meaning a much smaller likelihood of SQL injection attacks.

    • Mature - Software development seems to run in cycles with developers embracing The Next Big Thing only to find out that although it fixes a bunch of things that annoyed you about whatever you switch from, it still suffers from a bunch of new flaws. The iSeries has been around for so long you can be pretty sure it's going to work for you.

    • System Administration - Every tool you need to administer the iSeries already exists out of the box and is provided by IBM. Other companies spend a fortune in time and software licences buying admin and monitoring tooling then having to glue everything together.

    • Modern - You can build modern applications running from an iSeries! You aren't stuck with green screen UIs. You can build web applications hosted directly on the iSeries that can look like everything else you're used to. You can take advantage of the iSeries sockets to build modern looking desktop applications in any technology you like, backed by the rock solid iSeries backend.

    Not sure what your take is on these items, but I'd be interested in hearing...



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    • Mature - Software development seems to run in cycles with developers embracing The Next Big Thing only to find out that although it fixes a bunch of things that annoyed you about whatever you switch from, it still suffers from a bunch of new flaws. The iSeries has been around for so long you can be pretty sure it's going to work for you.

    I don't think that this is a good way to look at maturity in software. The i Series is "antiquated" and doesn't have a lot of modern security features. It's not taking advantage of modern knowledge, it's just... old, not mature.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    • Modern - You can build modern applications running from an iSeries! You aren't stuck with green screen UIs.

    No, BUT if you are doing anything but supporting ancient software, why the heck on your on iSeries, lol.



  • So, I think you've probably already answered this for the most part, but I wanted to know more why so many places use iSeries systems. As you and others have said, most banks use them; and when I was my last job (a large retail/drug chain), there was also an IBM AS400 at every store -- and we had 10,000+ locations.

    As I'm reading, I see that AS400 uses DB2 (I was mistakenly thinking that the AS400 was some sort of SQL server). So is this powerful IBM hardware plus the capability of DB2 make it a good choice for extremely large and complex databases or something?



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    So, I think you've probably already answered this for the most part, but I wanted to know more why so many places use iSeries systems.

    Very, very few do. They are so rare it's considered shocking to find one and those that use them almost universally do so because they are unable or unwilling to update their software and join the modern world. iSeries is a product that exists for legacy focused businesses that are mired in the past.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    As I'm reading, I see that AS400 uses DB2 (I was mistakenly thinking that the AS400 was some sort of SQL server).

    A SQL server is a term for relational databases. Not a good one, but that's how people use it. DB2 is one of the core SQL servers therefore. So yes, it is absolutely a SQL server.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    So is this powerful IBM hardware plus the capability of DB2 make it a good choice for extremely large and complex databases or something?

    No, it's not powerful for the price which in IT means it is not powerful, and DB2 is not a particularly good choice for anything. Nothing makes the iSeries appealing if you have the choice to use something else. iSeries exists only for people without choices. No one with a choice even looks at them.



  • If you wanted power from Power systems, you'd be looking at AIX or Z systems, but not i.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    So, I think you've probably already answered this for the most part, but I wanted to know more why so many places use iSeries systems.

    Very, very few do. They are so rare it's considered shocking to find one and those that use them almost universally do so because they are unable or unwilling to update their software and join the modern world. iSeries is a product that exists for legacy focused businesses that are mired in the past.

    Well I guess it's all relative, but it seems like there are a lot out there. I literally just had Federal Exam auditors here today and I asked them if they usually see iSeries systems at pretty much every bank with an on-premises banking core. Otherwise, they see Blade servers at bigger companies.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    If you wanted power from Power systems, you'd be looking at AIX or Z systems, but not i.

    Well we have a Power 720 unit.



  • Power 720 for core as well.





  • @dave247 Yes. I don't remember the model before that one but it was IBM as well.



  • @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    @dave247 said in Disaster Recovery as a service companies that support IBM iSeries / AS400 systems?:

    So, I think you've probably already answered this for the most part, but I wanted to know more why so many places use iSeries systems.

    Very, very few do. They are so rare it's considered shocking to find one and those that use them almost universally do so because they are unable or unwilling to update their software and join the modern world. iSeries is a product that exists for legacy focused businesses that are mired in the past.

    Well I guess it's all relative, but it seems like there are a lot out there. I literally just had Federal Exam auditors here today and I asked them if they usually see iSeries systems at pretty much every bank with an on-premises banking core. Otherwise, they see Blade servers at bigger companies.

    Blade is a form factor that no bank with a clue would ever use. Totally wrong for factor. Series i definitely comes as a blade. Your auditor doesn't know what they are seeing.


Log in to reply