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June 9, 2022

AWS launches Mainframe Modernization to tempt more businesses to the cloud

The cloud giant hopes a new service will tempt businesses away from their trusty mainframes to the cloud.

By Matthew Gooding

Amazon’s AWS public cloud division has today launched a new service to help businesses move their on-premises mainframe-based workloads to the cloud.

AWS has launched a new service to help businesses move data from mainframe systems to the cloud. (Photo by krblokhin/iStock)

The company has announced the general availability of AWS Mainframe Modernization, which it says will make it faster and easier for customers to modernise mainframe-based systems and transform them into cloud-based services. Details of the service were first announced at the company’s Re:invent developer conference in December.

“Businesses in a wide variety of industries have relied on mainframes to run business-critical applications for decades,” said William Platt, general manager of migration services at AWS. “These businesses naturally want to modernise their mainframe-based applications to reduce costs and eliminate technical debt, but they don’t know how or where to get started. With AWS Mainframe Modernization, customers and systems integrators can now more quickly and easily refactor or replatform mainframe applications to run in the cloud.”

What does AWS Mainframe Modernization do?

AWS says the service can be used to refactor mainframe workloads to run on its cloud platform by transforming mainframe-based applications into modern cloud services. Alternatively, it claims customers can also keep their applications as written and replatform their workloads to AWS by reusing existing code with minimal changes.

A managed runtime environment built into AWS Mainframe Modernization provides the necessary compute, memory, and storage to run both refactored and replatformed applications and helps automate the details of capacity provisioning, security, load balancing, scaling, and application health monitoring, the cloud giant says.

It is generally available from today across seven AWS regions, including two European instances, based in Frankfurt and Ireland. There is no upfront cost for the service, businesses pay on consumption for the amount of compute power used. IT consultancies CGI, Infosys and TCS are ready to deploy the service, today’s announcement says.

Cloud vs mainframe: why companies still keep information on-premises

AWS is the biggest player in public, with a 33% market share according to data from Synergy Research group.

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The new service brings it into line with its nearest challenger, Microsoft Azure, which already offers mainframe modernisation options for its customers.

While IT systems were traditionally deployed on mainframe systems based on-premises, the shift to the cloud has seen the popularity of these systems diminish as businesses take advantage of the cost savings and flexibility cloud services can offer.

“Mainframes are expensive, they’re complicated, and there are fewer and fewer people who are learning to program COBOL these days,” said AWS CEO Adam Selipsky in his keynote address at Re:Invent. "This is why many of our customers are trying to get off of their mainframes as fast as they possibly can to gain the agility and the elasticity of the cloud.”

However, mainframes have remained popular in some industries, particularly heavily regulated sectors such as financial services and healthcare, where security of data and reliability of systems is paramount. Indeed, when IBM launched its latest mainframe, the z16, in April, it emphasised the security element of the system, highlighting that it is capable of rapidly analysing transactions for financial services businesses to detect fraud, as well as stressing its ability to form part of a hybrid cloud set-up.

This desire to keep sensitive operations on-premises may be waning though, particularly as the cloud providers develop specific secure offerings for industry verticals including finance and healthcare.

The 2022 State of Cloud report from Flexera shows that more than half of respondents are ready to move at least some sensitive data - either corporate financial information, personally identifiable information or protected health information - to the cloud.

Read more: AWS to double UK investment with £1.8bn pledge

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