This month we are excited to be announcing a new IBM i cloud offering we call Litmis Spaces Single Tenant.  Running IBM i in the cloud has been a desire of ours for a very long time, thus we’re quite happy to have finally created a solution to our own problem!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Sometimes it’s best to start a (kind of long, sort of rambling) story from the beginning.

If you’re too busy for storytime, then head right over to litmis.com/spaces to learn more about this fantastic new offering from Krengeltech.  But if you have time for a (kind of long, sort of rambling) story then please read on!

Years ago when I first joined Krengeltech there wasn’t an IBM i footprint in the company.  I came to KT from an IBM i shop with a lot of knowledge concerning RPG web services.  Being the entrepreneurs we are, we determined “hey, we can make a product out of that!”; and thus RPG-XML Suite was born.  The problem was we had an idea for a product that was written in a language that only worked on the IBM i platform… and we didn’t even OWN an IBM i (or AS/400 as it was known then).  Coming from a fairly large corporation, I had been one of many developers, read: not an admin. I had no clue as to how we could gain access to an IBM i.  A few web searches led me to NetShare400.com and IBM’s Virtual Loaner Program.  We used both services to develop RPG code for a while, but both eventually revealed their shortcomings. However, since Netshare400 was $15/month and the VLP was free we couldn’t really complain. Despite the low price, we determined that getting our own, dedicated server was the only option to simplify our development and fuel our progress.  

This led us down the path of leasing a machine through IBM’s PartnerWorld ISV Enablement program, which provided steep discounts for developers.  At this point I learned about the complication of procuring an IBM i.  To be fair to IBM, I had my expectations set high because the IBM i machine I had used at my former employer “just worked” so I thought the sales process would be as simple as the machine. It’s also worth noting that at this time in history, I could order a new laptop from Dell using only a website and a credit card; so that’s what I was expecting as we obtained our first IBM i.

Long story short it probably took about two months of emails and other collaboration to iron everything out, and then another couple of weeks until the machine finally made it to my home.  To say I was excited for the arrival of my first baby-made-from-metal is an understatement, so my wife documented the new relationship with digital photography, as shown below.  I don’t recall everything from that day, though I do suspect wiping drool off the display panel was required.

Having an IBM i in my basement was a statement of pride I’d make at trade shows and conferences.  It was fun.  It was geeky.  

I also went through the motions of doing special power wiring and obtaining a UPS device (the extent of my high-availability at the time).  This was also somewhat fun.  Then we started hiring more RPG developers and those developers worked out of their own homes.  This was all well and fine until my power went out or my DSL connection went down.  It made going on vacation painful because even if I was camping I’d take my laptop and mentally maintain where I last saw good cell service in the event I needed to call my neighbor and ask them to hit the reset button on the DSL modem.  Bleh.  No fun.  

We went through the purchase of a second IBM i that I stored in my basement so we could continue to compile back to V4R3, yet be able to code with newer RPG features in V5R4.  Of course the “no fun” continued, but it was worse; the issues of connectivity and electrical reliability meant there were some days the developers had to get creative and find other things to do when the machines weren’t available.  That’s not how a business should operate.  So we went searching for other options.

In December of 2011 I was complaining about our on-premise woes on LinkedIn and an IBM i cloud hosting provider sent me an inbox message saying they might be able to help.  They didn’t really offer one-off cloud hosting for ISVs (they focused on hosting a large and widely known software package) but they were willing to bend the rules for us.  A few emails, signed documents, and a couple of weeks later we had our first IBM i in the cloud.  The configuration was a Power7 machine with 960CPW, 100GB DASD, 4GB RAM, and the ILE compilers; all for $500/month with a 3yr contract.  Given the change of onus for housing a machine and the time savings, we determined this was a steal of a deal.  We had obtained quotes from other cloud providers, and this quote was a major improvement over the others.  Done deal!

Through all of this, there was still something that nagged at me; the fact that gaining access to an IBM i still required many hundreds of dollars per month, fair amount of paperwork and much manual human interaction.  This really hit home when I was speaking at the AITP National Collegiate Conference in a room full of roughly 67 college and high school students.  I told them how great IBM i is with its integrated database, integrated security, integrated work management, how it could run Ruby On Rails, PHP, and Java.  Then an excited teen raised their hand and said “Mr. Bartell, where can we get access to an IBM i?”  [long pause]

Sadly, I had nothing to offer them.  These students were entrepreneurs with product ideas that needed cloud servers without commercial or time-limit restrictions.  The needed something that would start small in both machine size and cost, and could grow with them as their ideas took off.

And this is how our idea for Litmis Spaces was born.  

For the past two years, we’ve been working to put together two different offerings for simplifying access to IBM i.  The first was Litmis Spaces Multi Tenant, a way for developers to gain access to an IBM i in the cloud with the click of a button.  This offering has been utilized at many conferences in both the U.S. and Europe, and has been used by hundreds of IBM i developers around the world.  Obviously a multi tenant machine has many things locked down and sometimes that scenario isn’t a good fit for businesses; so we kept creating.

Our next offering, and what we’re introducing in this piece, is Litmis Spaces Single Tenant; IBM i hosting where you have the entire machine to yourself.  One of our goals was to have an as-low-as-possible entry point and we believe we’ve accomplished that with a $157/month price tag for an entry level IBM i in the cloud.

This is a turn-key IBM i hosted machine complete with the following:

  • No setup fee.
  • Use for any purpose including commercial.
  • Month-to-month, no minimum.
  • IBM maintenance contract included.
  • Complete QSECOFR access. You’re in charge of administration duties (i.e. PTF installation)
  • One static public IP Address.
  • Unlimited IBM i profiles
  • Software: ILE compilers, BRMS, PASE, 5733OPS, and more.
  • vCloud Director firewall from VMWare (basic firewall features like port blocking, allowed IP addresses, etc).  SOPHOS VPN Firewall solution also available for added cost.

Our entry-level offering starts at $157/mo and has the following specs:

  • IBM i v7.1, v7.2, or v7.3
  • 480CPW
  • 2GB RAM
  • 500GB Disk

Of course one size doesn’t fit all so we’ve made it easy to configure your own machine via our online pricer tool: https://spaces.litmis.com/s/pricer.html

Once you’ve configured your machine with our pricer you simply enter your credit card on our secure payment gateway and we’ll start configuring your server with a turnaround of 24 to 48 hours.  

Have more complex requirements or questions for us or need help configuring a machine that fits your needs?  Shoot us an email at team@litmis.com. We’d love to talk!