Every November, droves of eager devotees anxiously check their watches for the time the doors will finally open to swarm the premises. No, this isn’t Black Friday; this is AWS re:Invent.
With over 50,000 AWS fans in attendance, re:Invent 2023 was jam-packed with mainframe and cloud enthusiasts, along with groundbreaking keynotes, informative sessions, and so much more.
While David Gutzman, Ed Airey, Emmett Hynous, and Stephen Hodges were on the ground in Las Vegas, the rest of the AveriSource team held down the fort — from New York and North Carolina to Canada and India.
With the release of AveriSource Platform™ 2.0 just weeks away, Stephanie Walter, Jenny Allen and Brandon Walter were heads-down putting the finishing touches on release planning, marketing strategy, and product development.
Now with inboxes cleared and re:Invent in the rearview mirror, it’s time to hit the rewind button and reflect on what was a busy, but insanely fun event.
Jenny Allen, Director of Marketing at AveriSource, sat down with the team to get the skinny on their experience at AWS re:Invent 2023: From partner announcements and personal highlights to 2024 modernization trends and conversations on the expo floor.
What announcements were you most excited about?
David Gutzman: “Kyndryl’s announcement that it is expanding its partnership with AWS was a momentous one. Here you’ve got the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider joining forces with AWS, the biggest cloud service provider on the planet, which is game-changing. Kyndryl is now a Premier Tier Services Partner supporting the AWS Mainframe Modernization Service, so coupled with their industry-leading mainframe expertise and capabilities, they’re now a seamless, end-to-end mainframe transformation factory.
With Kyndryl being a valued AveriSource partner, the team and I are thrilled about the alignment between both organizations. As we expand our market presence and visibility around our accelerated rewrite pattern, we anticipate even greater collaboration on projects next year. The sky truly is the limit and together, we’ll be approaching mainframe modernization at full tilt, so 2024 will be an exciting year.”
Stephen Hodges: “I was incredibly impressed by AWS' commitment to promoting, assisting, and accelerating machine learning and AI. The tools, processors, and training will help many advance their practices and products.
The enhancements Amazon Web Services has made to Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Bedrock, and Amazon CodeWhisperer will assist anyone who is either learning ML, creating new models, using available models, or improving their own. The AWS Trainium and AWS Inferentia AI chip advancements are also game-changing in how they will accelerate generative AI, so that was a personal highlight for me.”
What pain points did you hear most frequently from attendees, customers, or partners?
Ed Airey: “The legacy subject matter expert (SME) skills issue was by far the top concern among nearly every partner, analyst, or customer I spoke with. Despite the best efforts by the industry, the reality is that there aren’t enough legacy SMEs available to support today’s applications. The mission-critical need to realign IT to today’s talent requires a new strategy — and a complete shift in thinking.
In 2023, high-performing tech talent wants to work with a suite of modernized applications to drive real innovation — not just keep the lights on. The AveriSource Platform can help to solve the increasingly dire SME skills issue by transforming legacy code to a modern, highly structured language, like Java or C#.”
David Gutzman: “Portability was definitely top of mind and a recurring issue that came up in conversations. Avoiding vendor lock-in is a tough challenge to overcome in IT. Modernizing mainframe applications often requires aligning to a proprietary tech stack or runtime environment. So, even rewriting applications to Java can often lead to a vendor lock where proprietary JAR files are needed to operate transformed code.
The AveriSource Platform offers an accelerated path to mainframe modernization via Java or C# — thereby eliminating vendor lock-in. Moving workloads from one platform to another, on-prem, to the cloud, or hybrid is an inherent capability of our platform, which will ease a lot of headaches for IT staff.”
Stephen Hodges: “I have to agree with Ed in that finding skilled resources for maintaining legacy applications, such as COBOL and Assembler, continued to come up in conversations. That and the difficulty of maintaining — and modernizing — said code from line-by-line conversion tools was mentioned by many, both before and after modernization attempts.”
Could you tell me about any interesting conversations you had during the event?
David Gutzman: “The team and I had so many compelling conversations with both partners and attendees, so it’s difficult to pick just one. We spoke with quite a few AWS leaders, and it was certainly encouraging to hear that the AveriSource Platform is the only ISV approaching AWS with an accelerated rewrite modernization pattern. While many GSIs are recommending this path to their customers, AveriSource is the only platform on the market with the capabilities to execute on it, which we attribute to our amazingly talented engineering team.
We also had a fantastic conversation with the Accenture team about AveriSource’s business rule extraction capabilities. We’ve made significant investment in this area of application analysis and modernization, so it was affirming that they took notice. Our partners continue to show great interest in leveraging this capability in support of an accelerated rewrite pattern.
Last but not least, I really enjoyed our chat with DXC Technology, another strong player in the application modernization space. We showcased our accelerated rewrite solution and how it instantly transforms COBOL or RPG to highly structured Java. We’re looking forward to taking a deeper dive with a longer demo now that the dust has settled from AWS re:Invent.”
Ed Airey: “We had a great conversation with the Kyndryl team exploring new customer interest in mainframe modernization — both in support of modernizing on IBM Z and exploring new platforms such as AWS. So many of the discussions I had point to significant market interest in mainframe modernization. IT leaders are not only looking for ways to modernize legacy languages to support new architectures, but also focusing on improved application performance. It’s also important to note that mainframe modernization doesn't necessarily mean an about-face, but rather a transformation of legacy applications to meet new requirements, such as microservices and the cloud.”
Did you notice any consistent themes or trends for mainframe modernization in 2024?
Stephen Hodges: “There will always be teams looking for quick-fix solutions like lift-and-shift or line-by-line conversions, which usually require post-migration modernization projects. However, we see the pendulum swinging back to enterprise reengineering solutions. These include in-place modernization, hybrid solutions with data sharing, and rearchitecting applications to fit serverless cloud-native containerized microservices. The AveriSource Platform can help with all the above, which truly does make it an end-to-end modernization solution.”
What were your personal highlights from AWS re:Invent 2023?
Ed Airey: “AWS did a fantastic job in promoting the importance and relevance of mainframe modernization. There was definitely a noticeable uptick in the number of sessions available to attendees, which was encouraging to see. As predicted, AI took centerstage and was featured prominently in both on-the-floor attendee discussions and presentations from AWS experts, partners, and customers.
I know I share the same energy and excitement about the possibilities of AI, particularly as it relates to accelerating mainframe modernization. It seemed that nearly every partner we spoke with was engaged and motivated to discuss mainframe modernization with us, which was a clear indication that mainframe modernization is now entering the mainstream.
With all eyes on mainframe transformation, the conversation now turns to the best modernization pattern to support the core business strategy, of which there’s no one-size-fits-all prescriptive approach. Helping customers to navigate the various modernization strategies is not only our expertise, but the AveriSource Platform can do the heavy lifting throughout the entire modernization journey with our accelerated rewrite pattern.”
Emmett Hynous: “No doubt, the highlight of AWS re:Invent for me was meeting my new team for the first time in-person. Given I joined AveriSource the same week, gaining that on-the-spot, face-to-face collaboration in a 100% remote role really solidified that I made the right decision in coming aboard. Having worked in the mainframe modernization world for over 15 years, AveriSource had always been on my radar, so it’s serendipitous that it’s come full circle.
That said, re:Invent truly is a juggernaut and you could just feel the excitement flowing through the endless corridors of The Venetian. To be surrounded by thousands of like-minded people who are just as passionate about mainframe modernization as me was basically my Super Bowl. Between seeing attendee reactions to the AveriSource Platform demos to reconnecting with industry contacts, it was definitely up there. Well, that and the eggs Benedict from Bouchon.”
With another AWS re:Invent in the books, we're grateful for the unforgettable moments and connections we made at the flagship AWS event. A massive thank you to our valued partners and the esteemed analysts who made the experience a rewarding one with their collaboration and insights. Lastly, a huge shoutout to Amazon Web Services and the AWS Events team for the dedication and hard work they put into re:Invent 2023!
Thanks for reading and until next time!