Amazon’s mainframe killer helps banks refactor or replatform legacy apps for the cloud
Amazon Web Services Inc. today announcement general availability of a key new service that provides enterprises with an easy way to migrate their mainframe workloads to the cloud.
AWS Mainframe Modernization was first announced in preview at last year’s AWS re:Invent and offers customers two options for migrating mainframe workloads. First, they can refactor their applications, typically written in the older COBOL programming language, as modern Java-based cloud services. Second, customers can keep their original application code and reformat those applications on AWS with minimal changes.
Whatever customers decide, they can count on the new service to deliver a complete end-to-end migration pipeline that handles development, testing, and deployment with a heavy dose of automation.
“With AWS Mainframe Modernization, customers and system integrators can now more quickly and easily refactor or replatform mainframe applications to run in the cloud,” said William Platt, general manager of Migration Services at ‘AWS.
The launch of AWS Mainframe Modernization puts Amazon at odds with companies such as IBM Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., which continued to manufacture mainframe hardware.
Mainframe computers are among the oldest types of computing devices still in use. They first appeared more than 50 years ago with the debut of IBM System/360 and remain commonplace in on-premises data centers in industries such as banking, insurance and retail. . The longevity of mainframe systems is due to their ability to reliably process massive volumes of transaction data, as well as their reputation for high security and availability.
Even so, some companies have reasons for wanting to ditch their mainframes, said Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. He explained that migration is an attractive option for some because of the challenges of maintaining mainframe systems. In particular, he said there was a growing shortage of people with the skills required to manage the older COBOL-based software that mainframes rely on.
“While mainframes beat everything from a total cost of ownership perspective when fully utilized, they become less cost-effective when not,” Mueller said. “So businesses are looking for migration deals and Amazon’s new offering is worth considering. It’s no surprise that Amazon works with partners like TCS, Infosys, and CGI because mainframe migration is a manual, labor-intensive activity.
Cloud giants like AWS have therefore been trying for years to convince companies to move away from mainframes. AWS Mainframe Modernization is one of the most serious attempts to date, with Amazon explaining that it has built a runtime environment that provides plenty of compute, memory, and storage resources to run refactored and reformed applications. Additionally, the service makes life easier by automating aspects such as capacity provisioning, load balancing, scaling, security, and application monitoring. Of course, enterprises can also save on upfront costs, as they are only billed for the compute resources they provide.
Whether modernizing the AWS mainframe is compelling enough to cause the death of the mainframe remains to be seen. The demise of these systems has been predicted for decades, but they remain surprisingly relevant. IBM, for its part, seems confident that it will continue to see demand for mainframes. Earlier this year, it launched its most advanced mainframe system to date, the IBM z16 which is powered by the seven-nanometer Telum processor to enable on-chip artificial intelligence capabilities. With this, IBM says the z16 can perform checks against fraudulent transactions in real time.
Amazon said AWS Mainframe Modernization is now generally available in its US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Canada (Central), Europe (Frankfurt), Europe (Ireland) and South America (São Paulo).