AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

Unleash Mainframe Applications by Augmenting New Channels on AWS with IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack

By Kyle Charlet, CTO zSystems Software – IBM
By Madhu B Ananthapadmanabh, STSM CICS Portfolio India – IBM
By Brenesh Stanslas, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS
By Bruno Sahinoglu, WW Principal Partner Solutions Architect – AWS

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The IBM mainframe remains a widely used enterprise system, hosting core business-critical applications for the world’s leading banks, airlines, insurers, and more.

To meet the ever-growing digital transformation demands, and to achieve faster time to market, enterprises are building modern channel-facing applications and new web frontends as cloud-native applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS). These applications often require access to business-critical applications and data running on the IBM mainframe.

REST APIs have become the ubiquitous choice for integrating applications running on AWS with the IBM mainframe.

In this post, you will learn how to unleash the value of core business applications and data running on mainframes by exposing them as industry standard RESTful APIs with a no-code approach.

We’ll also discuss how newer channels augmented in AWS can take advantage of these exposed APIs using IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, thereby enabling cloud-native applications in AWS to securely interact with mainframe applications and data.

IBM Software and Technology is an AWS Competency Partner and leading global provider of enterprise technology and services.

Industry Use Cases Driving API Adoption

Many industries including telecommunication, retail, and supply chain are driven by agile methodology and are looking to simplify the IT and business process in order to speed up new features implementation and reduce time to market. Hence, API adoption appears an obvious choice.

In the financial services industry, banks in Europe are mandated to expose open banking and PSD2 APIs to expose customer data as part of the open banking regulation.

In addition to this, a financial technologies (FinTech) revolution has changed the way we do banking by offering new digital value-added services, and have mandated the need for integration with a FinTech platform through APIs. Banks have seen new “payment initiation” and “payment plan” methods with open banking.

Similar to the FinTech revolution, there are technology-driven disruptors across industry segments. These disruptions mandate digital transformation driven by standards-based REST APIs, and zSystems are at the center of it.

Proof points include:

  • A UK bank wanted to integrate PSD2 APIs with its core banking IMS systems on Z in days. [Regulation]
  • European bank wanted to reduce API development time from three months to days. [Time to market]
  • Large U.S. bank wanted to serve 150+ million requests a day to support FinTech startups. [Scalable]
  • U.S. insurer wanted to provide support for Apple Pay and third-party payment options for billing. [Augment B2B channels]
  • Leading American bank wanted to build mobile and web apps using Java/Node/Swift that connect to mainframe with common tools that don’t require mainframe skills. [Skills]

Solution Overview

Thanks to IBM, organizations can now expose zSystems applications and data as APIs using IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack on AWS, a flexible platform with common tools and capabilities needed to modernize z/OS environments and applications.

The z/OS Connect capability, a low-code API solution component of the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, provides scalable and secured z/OS APIs on Red Hat OpenShift on AWS (ROSA). This enables a simple way for cloud-native applications in AWS to securely access mainframe applications and data through RESTful APIs using Open-API standards.

Developers can create a secured API starting from an existing Open-API 3.0 definition, using a “contract first” approach that can support a company’s API governance models and ensure APIs are readily consumable by the business applications.

The containerized deployment and tooling model integrates fully with the team’s DevOps approach, allowing developers to work in parallel building the APIs they need, whilst system administrators maintain control through the container orchestration platform.

Key capabilities include:

  • z/OS Connect Server helps to unlock and integrate the value of IBM Z workload and data with RESTful APIs and create consumable APIs in minutes to make zSystems applications and data available to the new channel and services running on AWS.
  • z/OS Connect Designer is a web user interface (UI) that provides a low-code approach, allowing APIs to be created in minutes. It is delivered as a standalone container image, ready to run on AWS alongside IBM Wazi for Dev Spaces, to deliver a cloud-native experience for creating and managing end-to-end flows.
  • Open-API 3.0 support.
  • Tool-based approach enabling the transformation of z/OS data with rich functional mapping capabilities to speed the process of finding and transforming the right operations and data for consumption by the applications, whilst minimizing the time to fill out boiler plate functions.
  • Enhanced role-based security model provides more control to security administrators. This security model takes advantage of the improved security schemes provided by the OpenAPI 3.0 specification, to deliver more granular control of user authorization at the API operation level.

AWS Reference Architecture

The IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, along with Amazon API Gateway, Amazon ElastiCache, and auto-scaling services provides a low-latent, horizontally scalable integration of on-premise mainframe applications and data.


Figure 1 – Mainframe-to-AWS integration reference architecture.

Platform connectivity between AWS and IBM zSystems can be established with AWS Direct Connect and a virtual private network (VPN) link to securely connect the platforms with low-latency.

APIs created with the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack can be integrated with enterprise API management solutions like Amazon API Gateway, a fully managed serverless service that makes it easy to create, publish, and secure APIs at any scale.

As newer use cases and channels drive growth, Red Hat OpenShift on AWS can be scaled. Amazon Cognito can be used for web and mobile apps, where end users can log in through Cognito user pools or federated identity providers (IdPs).


With IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, developers can build more engaging experiences on AWS, leveraging business logic and the power of z/OS applications and data.

With APIs for zSystems resources in place, no mainframe skills are required to integrate your digital apps with the mainframe. Using AWS services to manage, cache, route, and scale secure APIs empowers digital transformation of highly secure transactions that require low latency.

Starting with OpenAPI 3.0 document, developers can create interfaces to z/OS applications and data using API-first functional mapping, allowing them to transform native Z data and services per business demands.


Using z/OS Connect, which is now available in IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack via AWS Marketplace, developers can create scalable, secure, fully RESTful z/OS APIs using OpenAPI standards to interact with mainframe data and resources.

Combining the strength of IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack with AWS delivers a modern, managed model to complement the most resilient production workloads and helps accelerating the modernization journey.

Learn more about IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, and check out these AWS Marketplace listings:


IBM – AWS Partner Spotlight

IBM Software and Technology is an AWS Competency Partner and leading global provider of enterprise technology and services.

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