Amazon's mainframe killer helps banks refactor or replatform legacy apps for the cloud

Amazon’s mainframe killer helps banks refactor or replatform legacy apps for the cloud

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Amazon Web Services Inc. today announced general availability of a key new service that offers businesses a simple 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 provides customers with two options for migrating mainframe workloads. First, they can refactor their applications, usually written in the older COBOL programming language, as modern, Java-based cloud services. Second, customers can retain their original application code and replatform those apps on AWS with minimal change.

Whatever customers decide, they can rely on the new service to deliver a complete, end-to-end migration pipeline that handles development, testing and deployment together with a big dose of automation.

“With AWS Mainframe Modernization, customers and systems integrators can now more quickly and easily refactor or replatform mainframe applications to run in the cloud,” said AWS General Manager of Migration Services William Platt.

The launch of AWS Mainframe Modernization puts Amazon at odds with companies such as IBM Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., who continued to manufacture mainframe hardware.

Mainframes are among the oldest kinds of computing devices still in use. They first appeared more than 50 years ago with the debut of IBM System/360, and remain a common sight in the on-premises data centers of 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, plus their reputation for strong security and uptime.

That said, there are reasons for some enterprises to want to ditch their mainframes. Notably, the systems are extremely expensive and require some considerable expertises to maintain. Adding to that is the fact that there is a growing shortage of people with the skills required to deal with the legacy software that mainframes rely on.

Cloud giants such as AWS have therefore been trying to convince enterprises to get away from mainframes for years. AWS Mainframe Modernization is one of the most serious attempts yet, with Amazon explaining that it has built a runtime environment that provides plentiful compute, memory and storage resources to run both refactored and replatformed apps. In addition, the service makes life easier by automating aspects such as capacity provisioning, load balancing, scaling, security and application monitoring. Of course, enterprises also get to save on upfront costs, as they’re only billed for the compute resources they provision.

Whether or not AWS Mainframe Modernization is compelling enough to bring about the death of the mainframe remains to be seen. The demise of these systems has been predicted for decades already, yet they remain surprisingly relevant. IBM for one seems confident it will continue to see demand for mainframes. Earlier this year, it launched its most advanced mainframe system yet, the IBM z16 that’s powered by the seven-nanometer Telum processor to enable on-chip artificial intelligence capabilities. With this, IBM says the z16 can run checks against fraudulent transactions in real-time.

Amazon said AWS Mainframe Modernization is generally available now in its US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), Asia Pacific (Sydney), Canada (Central), Europe (Frankfurt), Europe (Ireland) and South America (São Paulo) regions.

Image: AWS

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