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AWS builds mainframe bridges, sets DeepRacer guardrails

Scott Pletcher
Scott Pletcher

We’ve got another carefully curated set of AWS news suitable for framing, this week! AWS continues to build bridges to mainframe shops, Amazon Lookout for Metrics gets a rear-view mirror, and our little buddy DeepRacer gets some guardrails. Let’s get into all that juicy AWS new, this week. 


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AWS Mainframe Modernization is now generally available

How often have you been sitting around the conference room and thought, “Hey, let’s migrate our mainframe to AWS?” Just fire up your 3270 terminal, bring everyone out of retirement and start copy-pasting. If only it were that easy, right?

Announced back at reInvent 2021, AWS Mainframe Modernization service is now generally available. But what does AWS know about mainframes? Well, through acquisitions and partnerships with companies that specialize in mainframe migration, AWS has assembled a pretty decent crew. Blu Age, which AWS acquired last year, are the people who brought us the ability to run COBOL on Lambda. AWS has also partnered with Micro Focus, which offers a suite of mainframe migration tools. 

But tools alone won’t get the job done. Most mainframe shops have decades of business logic embedding in tens of thousands of lines of COBOL or PL/1 code. We’re not exactly talking a simple lift-and-shift here, but a major re-platforming effort. To this end, AWS has also established a Migration Acceleration Program for Mainframe and created a Mainframe Modernization Partner Competency.

But… are mainframes really still a thing? Absolutely! Especially in the banking, insurance, and healthcare industries. According to Reuters, about 80% of in-person commerce transactions and 95% of ATM transactions still rely on COBOL code running on a mainframe. 

Amazon Lookout for Metrics to work faster 

The Amazon Lookout family of services is a perfect example of taking some complicated machine learning processes and abstracting them into easily accessible real-world value and turnkey services.

At the core, the Amazon Lookout services use anomaly detection algorithms to identify things that are out of the ordinary and bring those things to your attention.

  • Amazon Lookout for Equipment can pick up on subtle changes in equipment performance and allow for more proactive maintenance.
  • Lookout for Vision can perform visual inspection at scale and help with quality assurance.
  • Amazon Lookout for Metrics can provide the same anomalies in CloudWatch from the point at which we initiated coverage forward.

This backtesting mode allows Amazon Lookout for Metrics to look back in time to create more accurate baselines — and that’s really useful for organizations that have seasonal fluctuations or other ebbs and flows that aren’t necessarily anomalies. 

DeepRacer gets guardrails

Unintended consequences. We’ve probably all had our share of those things.

For example, let’s say you launch a DeepRacer League within your organization as a fun way to increase employee engagement and learn some new skills. Let’s say your league takes off and gets super competitive between the folks over on the Application Development team and the Network Engineering team. Let’s say that at the end of the month, you get a panicked call from your Accounts Payable people asking why your AWS bill is three times higher than it’s ever been.

I get it. It happens.

Fortunately, you now have some guardrails to apply to your DeepRacer dabbling if you’d like. AWS DeepRacer multi-user mode now allows us to apply quotas to our participants — helping curb the number of training hours, model counts, and even turning on and off the ability to train. No doubt, this feature originated from organizations who likely found themselves in the same place as our completely hypothetical example. 


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Flippy the frying robot

Before we go, one last little tidbit — you might soon be thanking AWS for improving the quality of your fast-food french fries. Miso Robotics, the company behind Flippy, a robot frying station, has announced a partnership with AWS to use AWS Robomaker to vastly accelerate their simulation and development processes. The Flippy 2 frying robots have already been ordered by several quick-service restaurant chains — as they prefer to be called — including my own guilty indulgence of choice, White Castle.

I, for one, welcome our new fry robot overlords and thank them in advance for their tireless service. 

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