Amazon Web Services is taking on the mainframe with the aim of migrating industrial strength workloads to the cloud.

At AWS’ re:Invent conference, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky outlined a mainframe migration service that aims to cut migration time by two-thirds.

“Mainframes are expensive and complicated and have legacy programming,” he said. “There has to be a better way. So many customers are trying to get off mainframes.”

Selipsky said that customers have been able to cut costs by up to 70% by moving mainframe workloads to the cloud. Some customers have gone lift-and-shift with others taking a more nuanced approach. Either way, the move from the mainframe can take months to years to complete.

“The road hasn’t been as easy as we’d like,” said Selipsky.

AWS’ move is to launch a series of services that will run compilers and convert Cobol to Java. AWS Mainframe Migration is now in preview.

The big question here is whether mainframe customers–often massive banks and financial services firms–will go fully cloud. IBM’s Z mainframes continue to put up big sales gains with every launch. And IBM has modernized the mainframe with Linux as well as containers.

Make no mistake: AWS wants some of that mainframe market. However, the reality is that the mainframe–predicted to die for decades–has stuck around. It’s like a hybrid approach will emerge for the mainframe in the near term.


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