AWS introduces a solution to get customers off their mainframes more quickly

At Amazon’s AWS re:Invent conference this morning, the company announced a new platform for mainframe migration and modernization called simply “AWS Mainframe Modernization,” which aims to help AWS customers get off their mainframes “as fast as they possibly can” in order to take better advantage of the cloud.

Today, customers may take a couple of different paths to get off their mainframes — either they take a “lift and shift” approach and bring their application pretty much as is, or they may refactor and break the application down as microservices in the cloud. But neither path is all that easy, and the process can take months or even years to complete as customers have to evaluate the complexity of the application’s source code, understand the dependencies on other systems, convert or recompile the code, and then everything has to be tested to make sure it all works.

“It can be a messy business and involves a lot of moving pieces. And it isn’t something that people really want to do on their own,” said Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS, speaking at the press event. “And while AWS Partners can help with the transition, it can still take a long time,” he added.

The new solution, AWS Mainframe Modernization, instead will make it faster to migrate, modernize and run mainframe applications on AWS. The company claims that it can cut the time it takes to move mainframe workloads to the cloud by as much as two-thirds, using its set of development, test, and deployment tools and a mainframe-compatible runtime environment. The solution will also help customers to assess and analyze their mainframe applications for readiness then help them to choose which path they want to take — re-platforming or refactoring — and then comes up with a plan.

If the customer wants to replatform, the Mainframe Modernization solution will offer compilers to convert code as well as testing services to make sure no functionality is lost during the translation. If the customer wants to refactor or decompose the application — if the components could be run in EC2, in containers, or in Lambda, for instance — then they can use the Mainframe Modernization solution to automatically convert the COBOL code over to Java. A Migration Hub lets customers track their migration progress across multiple AWS Partners and solutions from a single location.

Amazon touts the system as being an agile and cost-efficient (with on-demand, pay-as-you-go resources) managed service that offers security and high availability, scalability, and elasticity.

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