Three Compelling IBM i (iSeries) Managed Services Success Stories

Laurie Leblanc
Laurie LeBlanc, iTech Solutions

Managed Services may mean different things to different people.  To some, Managed Services means “I no longer have to do anything or worry about my IBM i”. For others, it means having someone else to bounce ideas off of and to have a backup for time off.  The truth is, it’s both and everything in between.

If you’re an Admin, when you hear your boss talk about Managed Services, you might get nervous about job security.  The truth is we work with a lot of companies who have an Admin, and we support them.  If you’re a CIO and you are concerned with finding a resource with IBM i knowledge, we can help you too.

We can tell you how good we are, but that isn’t as good as hearing about real customer situations.  Below are three real customer stories that discuss what the customer needs were and how Managed Services helped their businesses.

Story 1: Double Duty Administrators

Customers with double-duty administrators are nothing new.  One of these customers had developers who were responsible for the administration of the IBM i systems.  The developers did their best to keep the system reliable, but their focus was really on development.  The company requires that the environment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has MIMIX implemented for high availability.  The company decided that they wanted their developers to focus on tasks that deliver business value and outsource the system administration to iTech.

Like other companies with high availability needs, the business felt it was more important to keep the systems available than to keep them current.  While this may keep the system up and running for the short term, it exposes the business to unnecessary risk.  Another common issue we saw is that they never conducted virtual or real role swaps.  Your high availability is only a real solution if you have tested it.  Otherwise, how do you know it will work?

With multiple LPARS, multiple production applications, and MIMIX, the environment is complex.  There are two different OS versions in production, further complicating the environment.

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Customer Results

With iTech’s Managed Administration Services, the customer’s IBM i is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week with monitoring software.  iTech handles critical system alerts, and application errors like CPF errors are sent to the developers for resolution. PTF’s and OS upgrades are updated regularly.  Their confidence in their high availability environment has improved. The developers are focused on delivering business value. The customer’s environment is also more secure as a result of working with iTech.

Story 2: Night Operator and Backup

One of the great things about IBM i is that managing the platform requires fewer resources. It can be an issue when there is one person with all the knowledge. This customer has one Admin who is very knowledgeable in IBM i and their environment.  The Admin regularly applies PTF’s and does OS upgrades; system maintenance is not an issue here.  The problem was he is one person, and he requires sleep and days off.

To allow their Admin to sleep and take a day off, the company had an agreement with another Managed Service Provider to be their night operator.  The company decided to look at alternate providers, and they selected iTech.

Customer Results

While our role at this customer is to provide coverage overnight, we still monitor their environment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Any alerts get forwarded to the Admin during the day.  In the evening, when he goes home, our Operators monitor their environment and follow the instructions in their Robot software.   Depending on the instructions, we may respond to a message or call someone at the customer to address the problem.  We follow their procedures and take the appropriate actions.

The result is that the business is happy with the selection of the iTech team.  The Admin is happy knowing that iTech is watching over the systems to ensure that everything goes as expected, and he can sleep.  Augmenting your staff with our staff can be a win-win.

Story 3: Retirement

Let’s face it. The median age of the IBM i expert is getting up there.  I find it hard to believe that I’ve been part of the community since 1993 when I became a system administrator.  I’m not the only one who can say they’ve worked on that platform for this long.  Our next example is a customer who was planning to retire.  He didn’t want to leave his company high and dry, and so he recommended that they bring iTech in to fill the gap.

Customer Results

Since the Admin brought iTech in before they retired, there was no interruption in the level of support the customer had when he left.  Replacing the Admin meant that iTech was doing PTF’s, OS upgrades, monitoring, taking care of issues, and making recommendations for improvements to performance, health, and security.

The story doesn’t end there.  The customer wanted to have an onsite Admin and hired a resource.  This new Admin had no IBM i expertise, and so, iTech taught them the skills they needed.  After a while, the new Admin has taken back some of the tasks from iTech, including PTF’s.  The business gets the comfort of an onsite resource, with the security of knowing that iTech is also watching out for them.

Whether you need a backup resource or need to replace a team member, Managed Administration Services can be customized to fit your needs.  These are just three examples of how iTech helps our customers to ensure their IBM i  environment is available, reliable, and secure. We can share more examples with you.

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