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

6 months ago 138

Commentary: AWS announced a scope of chill services astatine re:Invent 2021, but nary much important than its Mainframe Modernization service.

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Attendees locomotion done an expo hallway during AWS re:Invent 2021, a league hosted by Amazon Web Services, astatine The Venetian Las Vegas successful Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

In a unusual spot of irony, the biggest quality and the biggest unreality lawsuit of 2021 was each astir mainframes. Yes, mainframes, those expected relics of a bygone endeavor era.

In his inaugural keynote astatine AWS re:Invent 2021 arsenic AWS CEO, Adam Selipsky utilized his clip to speech up caller Graviton3 chips, backstage 5G networks, immoderate database and information water functional improvements and a fewer different things. But arguably the astir breathtaking happening of each was besides the astir boring: mainframes.

Why? Because it's possibly 1 of the clearest signals yet that AWS realizes that it's not going to instrumentality the satellite into the cloudy aboriginal without archetypal helping enterprises travel to presumption with their bequest pasts.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Cloud Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

A mainframe for you! And 1 for you! And you!

I fishy determination are fewer CIOs who aftermath up each time and think, "I privation we had much mainframes here." Love them oregon hatred them, mainframes proceed to service a utile relation wrong ample enterprises, and removing them is often easier said than done. Mainframes, aft all, often powerfulness the systems of grounds for banking, telecom and more. When you swipe a recognition card, your transaction is hitting a mainframe somewhere. These are the unsexy but not-easily-replaced applications that tally ample enterprises. 

While CIOs whitethorn find it hard to shingle the mainframes from their IT environments, they're moving retired of radical who tin unit them. In a Deloitte report, the authors recovered that astir a 4th of IT workers are successful the Baby Boomer property demographic, a demographic that is rather virtually aging retired of the workforce. This is simply a large problem. "Among this procreation are the coders who developed and present support bequest applications and mainframes. When these workers retire, they often instrumentality with them years — sometimes decades — of cognition astir however applications enactment and the languages successful which they are written."

Though years agone AWS was astir strident successful denouncing "fake cloud" (private information centers masquerading arsenic clouds), and spurned the precise thought of hybrid computing, the institution keeps getting much pragmatic successful its stance (AWS Outposts, concern with VMware, multicloud with EKS Anywhere, etc.). The reason? Cloud is going to instrumentality a precise agelong time, and successful its quest for growth, AWS has discovered that it needs to assistance companies to modernize, not heckle them for resisting. But adjacent by its standards, announcing the caller AWS Mainframe Modernization is simply a maestro people successful realpolitik.

AWS Mainframe Modernization: There are 2 paths you tin spell by

With the AWS Mainframe Modernization service, enterprises tin prime 1 (or both) of 2 paths, either automated refactoring oregon re-platforming. The archetypal is to "refactor their mainframe workloads to tally connected AWS by transforming bequest applications [many written successful COBOL] into modern Java-based unreality services," according to the press release. If they privation an easier lift, they tin simply re-platform to AWS portion making minimal codification changes. 

Either way, "A runtime situation built into AWS Mainframe Modernization provides the indispensable compute, representation and retention to tally some refactored and re-platformed applications and automatically handles the details of capableness provisioning, security, load balancing, auto-scaling and exertion wellness monitoring."

In some cases, AWS aims to marque it easier for companies to determination connected from mainframes. But, conscionable arsenic with the VMware concern and Outposts (to let hybrid workloads), AWS isn't simply telling enterprises to "modernize oregon die." Instead, it's showing overmuch much empathy and thoughtfulness successful gathering customers wherever they are, and helping them determination astatine their preferred gait to the cloud, with their preferred partners. In the property release, for example, some Accenture and DXC Technology connection quotes successful enactment of the service. Such systems integrators, not AWS, person decades of spot built up with enterprises struggling to get the astir from their mainframe investments. It makes consciousness to fto them pb with modernization. 

SEE: AWS re:Invent 2021: Few caller services suggest AWS is maturing (in a bully way) (TechRepublic)

To beryllium clear, this isn't needfully a contention against a peculiar technology. Mainframes mightiness not beryllium the preferred "form factor" for tech today, but the greenish surface epoch of mainframes is mostly past. AWS billed the Mainframe Modernization work arsenic 1 mode to get to Java, for example, but modern mainframes are already there. Yes, this is partially a exertion modernization issue, but yet it's a radical issue.

And, really, a contention against time.

Whatever the historical merits of mainframes, determination simply aren't galore radical contiguous who cognize however to usage them. Universities whitethorn thatch past Egyptian history, but adjacent they don't discarded clip teaching mainframe skills. That means there's a large swath of endeavor computing that is connected a collision people with obsolescence, and AWS is trying to alteration a brushed landing. It's a shrewd move, and overmuch much effectual than the mainframe shaming of the past. It's an AWS that progressively understands that "Customer Obsession" starts with gathering customers wherever they are, not wherever they "should" be.

Disclosure: I enactment for MongoDB and antecedently worked for AWS, but the views expressed herein are mine.

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