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Key Questions and Answers: The AWS Mainframe Modernization service

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Mainframe Modernization Goes Mainstream

The Micro Focus booth at AWS re:Invent 2022 was bustling with activity and we received numerous questions from in-person attendees. We'll cover some of the key ones that were asked around the launch of the new AWS Mainframe Modernization service in this blog and also discuss a little bit about Micro Focus’ role helping AWS build the service.   

What was announced?

AWS Mainframe Modernization Launched on State

AWS announced a new Mainframe Modernization service during AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s keynote at AWS re:Invent 2022. Micro Focus announced further details on how our partnership with AWS has enabled us to serve as a key technology enabler for their new offering.

“We have chosen Micro Focus as a key partner enabling our new AWS Mainframe Modernization service because of their proven track record through a combination of successfully delivering thousands of modernization projects over four decades,” said Bill Platt, General Manager for Migration Services at AWS.

“This AWS Mainframe Modernization service not only shows our position as a key partner in the ecosystem, but it also illustrates our experience in developing and deploying modernized core applications into AWS,” said Neil Fowler, General Manager of Application Modernization and Connectivity at Micro Focus.

To learn more about what this announcement means, watch Micro Focus CTO Stuart McGill’s interview with The Cube.  Check out the blog, Mainframe Modernization has gone Mainstream: Modernizing Mainframe Workloads with AWS and Micro Focus for technical details on the new service. 

Key Questions

How do I know my applications will run with the same reliability and performance as the mainframe if I move them to the AWS Mainframe Modernization service?

Defining your mainframe infrastructure

AWS Mainframe Modernization Environment Provisioning

AWS is the platform of choice for many of the world’s largest workloads and is a leader in moving application workloads to the cloud while preserving high availability, resiliency, and elasticity. AWS Cloud computing resources are housed in highly available data center facilities. To provide additional scalability and reliability, these data center facilities are located in different physical locations. These locations are categorized by AWS Regions and Availability Zones. AWS Regions are large and widely dispersed into separate geographic locations. Availability Zones are distinct locations within an AWS Region that are engineered to be isolated from failures in other Availability Zones.

Micro Focus has decades of experience migrating mainframe applications onto new platforms and has completed thousands of mainframe modernization projects. The mainframe modernization project at Kmart Australia is a great example of how Micro Focus and AWS have worked together to migrate large, mission-critical workloads off the IBM mainframe platform.

AWS and Micro Focus have combined their experience for AWS to build a solution designed for the kind of performance, scalability, and availability required by the largest, most critical, mainframe applications.

Do I need to learn a whole new toolset to develop, maintain, and operate my mainframe application?

AWS Mainframe Modernization Service Approach

Yes and No. The AWS Mainframe Modernization service takes care of most of the work in managing a high performance, high availability, and elastic runtime infrastructure environment for your application. The skills your organization has developed to build and manage other AWS workloads apply to the AWS Mainframe Modernization service as well as it has been developed to embrace the AWS management and monitoring ecosystem.

Additionally, administrators and security specialists will need to understand how to operate the AWS tools for identity management.

CI/CD DevOps Pipeline

Example CI/CD DevOps Pipeline for a mainframe application

When re-platforming applications using the AWS Mainframe Modernization service, developers can continue to develop and maintain their existing COBOL and PL/I applications using the Enterprise Developer and Enterprise Analyzer tools. The service enables a more agile/DevOps focus by integrating with AWS services such as AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodePipeline and others to create an end-to-end pipeline. Look out for the blog around Enabling CI/CD pipelines on the managed service for more details

How does the AWS Mainframe Modernization platform ensure my applications perform under load? 

High Availability Environment

AWS Mainframe Modernization encapsulating Enterprise Server – High Availability Cluster

The service allows you to define an environment for your applications to run under and allows you to specify the machine type, sizes, and capacity in the environment to run your workload. Within the service, Micro Focus Enterprise Server performance and availability clusters (PACs) are running that enable autoscaling based on real-time metrics to spin up and spin down as user demand peaks and wanes.

Once I have deployed my application to the AWS Mainframe Modernization service how do I deliver faster to keep pace with changing requirements in the business?

Enterprise Developer is an integrated development environment included with the AWS Mainframe Modernization service. It enables COBOL and PL/I developers to have the same rich set of development productivity features that are available to C# and Java developers. With access to smart editing, application knowledge, graphical debugging, unit testing and test automation, organizations can address mainframe skills concerns, remove deployment pipeline bottlenecks, and enable the latest DevOps practices. The result is faster code changes for your core business applications that can be tested earlier resulting in higher code quality, delivered faster.

What differentiates re-platforming my mainframe application to the AWS Mainframe Modernization service over other methods such as rewriting?

There are several valid approaches to modernizing mainframe applications. A key factor in deciding the best approach is to understand your business factors and drivers for change. It is very rare that there will be a “one size fits all approach”.

Rewriting your COBOL and PL/I application to another language can be a viable approach for smaller, less complex applications where a premium is being put on incorporating business and functional enhancements during a modernization project. Nonetheless this approach should be restricted to projects with limited scope and duration. Studies reveal a 75% failure rate in major rewrite projects (source: Standish Group – Endless Modernization Report 2021). Often, businesses have lost the domain expertise in the architecture of their applications and documentation is poor. When these conditions are present, rewriting the application is extremely difficult and risky. Kmart Australia is one example of a customer who initially went down the path of rewriting their applications for the cloud but ultimately reversed course and chose to re-platform a modernized application.

For more complex applications where the drivers are to remove platform dependencies, while minimizing change, impact, and time to production, application re-platforming via the AWS Mainframe Modernization service is a low risk, expedient approach. Re-platforming preserves your application code and data models while also bringing the many benefits of AWS Cloud resiliency, elasticity, and agility including a more agile DevOps development and delivery model.

How will I know access to the applications is protected and my data is secure?

Security is AWS’ top priority. AWS has been architected to be one of the most flexible and secure cloud computing environment available today. AWS core infrastructure is built to satisfy the security requirements for military, global banks, and other high-sensitivity organizations. AWS uses the same secure hardware and software to build and operate each of our regions, so all of their customers benefit from service offerings and associated supply chain are vetted and accepted as secure enough for top-secret workloads. This is backed by a deep set of cloud security tools, with more than 230 security, compliance, and governance services and key features.

The AWS Mainframe Modernization service inherits the same AWS proven policies, architecture, and operational processes built to satisfy the security requirements of your enterprise and harmonizes the security of your mainframe applications with other cloud applications in your portfolio. Under the hood of the Mainframe Modernization service, Micro Focus Enterprise Server addresses confidentiality, integrity and compliance concerns by providing extensive encryption of data both at-rest and in-transit, with minimal or no application changes.

TCP-based communication end points for application access, can be encrypted using TLS (SSL) for data in motion. Access to the applications can leverage AWS Virtual Private Network (AWS VPN), either over the internet or private network using AWS Direct Connect, to connect on-premises sites to AWS.

Data at-rest is encrypted with Amazon RDS encryption, as well as with Amazon EFS/FSx encryption, all of which benefits from centralized keys in AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) or in AWS CloudHSM hardware security module.

Authentication and authorization to applications can be configured to model existing mainframe security server rules and be secured via LDAP, IAM and AWS Cognito.

How do I provide cloud-based access to my existing 3270 interfaces when applications are deployed to the AWS?

Micro Focus Host Access for the Cloud is available for use with the Mainframe Modernization service and is available for a free trial from the AWS Marketplace.  

Host Access for the Cloud: Marketplace Listing

Host Access for the Cloud provides 3270 terminal emulation over HTTPS for end users accessing applications deployed into the AWS Mainframe Modernization runtime environment. No client TN3270 software is required for end users to access their applications running on the AWS Mainframe Modernization service. Additionally, legacy TN3270 protocol traffic between the terminal emulator and the application environment stays within the cloud platform.

Host Access for the Cloud also provides rich support for a variety of cloud-friendly authentication methods that include multi-factor capabilities to provide authentication and authorization for host applications.

Next Steps – Start Your Modernization Journey Now

The AWS Mainframe Modernization service accelerates your modernization journey by providing a consistent, repeatable, and patterned way to move applications to the cloud. Risk is greatly reduced and time to modernize is shortened by leveraging the managed runtime platform which handles many aspects of the deployment process and provides the elastic, high availability infrastructure with just a few clicks. 

If you want to try out the AWS Mainframe Modernization service, visit: https://console.aws.amazon.com/m2/home or contact your AWS or Micro Focus representative to start the assessment process to allow you to start planning your move to the cloud.


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