AWS has a sexy new modernization play – and it’s all about unsexy mainframes

Commentary: AWS introduced a spread of cool providers at re:Invent 2021, however none extra necessary than its Mainframe Modernization service.


Attendees stroll by means of an expo corridor throughout AWS re:Invent 2021, a convention hosted by Amazon Internet Providers, at The Venetian Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Picture: Noah Berger/Getty Photos for Amazon Internet Providers

In an odd little bit of irony, the largest information and the largest cloud occasion of 2021 was all about mainframes. Sure, mainframes, these supposed relics of a bygone enterprise period.

In his inaugural keynote at AWS re:Invent 2021 as AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky used his time to speak up new Graviton3 chips, personal 5G networks, some database and knowledge lake purposeful enhancements and some different issues. However arguably essentially the most thrilling factor of all was additionally essentially the most boring: mainframes.

Why? As a result of it is maybe one of many clearest indicators but that AWS realizes that it is not going to take the world into the cloudy future with out first serving to enterprises come to phrases with their legacy pasts.

SEE: Hiring Package: Cloud Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

A mainframe for you! And one for you! And also you!

I believe there are few CIOs who get up every day and suppose, “I want we had extra mainframes right here.” Love them or hate them, mainframes proceed to serve a helpful function inside giant enterprises, and eradicating them is usually simpler mentioned than executed. Mainframes, in any case, usually energy the programs of report for banking, telecom and extra. Once you swipe a bank card, your transaction is hitting a mainframe someplace. These are the unsexy however not-easily-replaced functions that run giant enterprises. 

Whereas CIOs could discover it onerous to shake the mainframes from their IT environments, they’re working out of people that can employees them. In a Deloitte report, the authors discovered that roughly 1 / 4 of IT employees are within the Child Boomer age demographic, a demographic that’s fairly actually ageing out of the workforce. This can be a massive downside. “Amongst this era are the coders who developed and now keep legacy functions and mainframes. When these employees retire, they usually take with them years — typically many years — of information about how functions work and the languages wherein they’re written.”

Although years in the past AWS was nearly strident in denouncing “faux cloud” (personal knowledge facilities masquerading as clouds), and spurned the very thought of hybrid computing, the corporate retains getting extra pragmatic in its stance (AWS Outposts, partnership with VMware, multicloud with EKS Wherever, and so forth.). The rationale? Cloud goes to take a really very long time, and in its quest for progress, AWS has found that it wants to assist firms to modernize, not heckle them for resisting. However even by its requirements, saying the brand new AWS Mainframe Modernization is a grasp class in realpolitik.

AWS Mainframe Modernization: There are two paths you possibly can go by

With the AWS Mainframe Modernization service, enterprises can choose one (or each) of two paths, both automated refactoring or re-platforming. The primary is to “refactor their mainframe workloads to run on AWS by reworking legacy functions [many written in COBOL] into trendy Java-based cloud providers,” in response to the press launch. If they need a better elevate, they’ll merely re-platform to AWS whereas making minimal code adjustments. 

Both method, “A runtime atmosphere constructed into AWS Mainframe Modernization gives the required compute, reminiscence and storage to run each refactored and re-platformed functions and robotically handles the main points of capability provisioning, safety, load balancing, auto-scaling and utility well being monitoring.”

In each instances, AWS goals to make it simpler for firms to maneuver on from mainframes. However, simply as with the VMware partnership and Outposts (to permit hybrid workloads), AWS is not merely telling enterprises to “modernize or die.” As a substitute, it is displaying way more empathy and thoughtfulness in assembly prospects the place they’re, and serving to them transfer at their most well-liked tempo to the cloud, with their most well-liked companions. Within the press launch, for instance, each Accenture and DXC Know-how supply quotes in assist of the service. Such programs integrators, not AWS, have many years of belief constructed up with enterprises struggling to get essentially the most from their mainframe investments. It is smart to allow them to lead with modernization. 

SEE: AWS re:Invent 2021: Few new providers counsel AWS is maturing (in a great way) (TechRepublic)

To be clear, this is not essentially a race towards a selected know-how. Mainframes may not be the popular “kind issue” for tech as we speak, however the inexperienced display period of mainframes is essentially previous. AWS billed the Mainframe Modernization service as one technique to get to Java, for instance, however trendy mainframes are already there. Sure, that is partly a know-how modernization problem, however finally it is a folks problem.

And, actually, a race towards time.

Regardless of the historic deserves of mainframes, there merely aren’t many individuals as we speak who know learn how to use them. Universities could train historical Egyptian historical past, however even they do not waste time educating mainframe expertise. Which means there is a massive swath of enterprise computing that’s on a collision course with obsolescence, and AWS is attempting to allow a mushy touchdown. It is a shrewd transfer, and way more efficient than the mainframe shaming of the previous. It is an AWS that more and more understands that “Buyer Obsession” begins with assembly prospects the place they’re, not the place they “ought to” be.

Disclosure: I work for MongoDB and beforehand labored for AWS, however the views expressed herein are mine.

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