Evangelizing Mainframe
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Enhance the Enterprise With DevOps

It might seem at first that DevOps and mainframes might not go together. After all, DevOps is all about the speedy development of new applications using Agile techniques in ways that involve the end users and the programmers working together all the way through the project. And the final piece of software may be different from the original specifications. Surely mainframe projects are all waterfall-type projects where the scope is set out well in advance and the final deliverables are exactly what was decided all those months before, whether they suit the end users or not?

David Lawrence, COP and Technical Enablement Lead, DevOps for Enterprise Systems, IBM Systems Middleware, gave a very interesting presentation recently to the Virtual CICS user group titled “Continuous Testing: DevOps for the Enterprise” where he demonstrated that this is no longer the case.

Lawrence started his presentation by looking into the future. He predicted that organizations are unlikely to build new large global z Systems server-based applications in the medium future. He thought the challenge is to rapidly and efficiently expose their existing systems of record to new systems of engagement, such as the Internet of Things and users on smartphones and tablets. He suggested that there was a business demand for reduced time to market, and the need for global solutions is driving the need to rapidly deliver to common APIs. He suggested that investing in current applications will:

  1. Increase profits today by enabling sites to deliver new features to market more rapidly
  2. Reduce future maintenance costs and maintain those site’s ability to continue rapid delivery by reducing end-to-end complexity
Lawrence’s view was that moving disparate core application systems of record to a common set of APIs, positions those sites for future consolidation.

Lawrence introduced many user group members to the notion of unicorn companies, which are start-ups, often software-focused, whose valuation now exceeds $1 billion. Most enterprise companies are not unicorns, and they typically are working from a position of having ancient infrastructure and beliefs. And these old-fashioned practices need to be overhauled, so that these companies can aspire to being unicorns. To do this, those sites need to:

  1. Use modern multi-platform developer and team tools
  2. Automate deployment, configuration, and testing
  3. Use virtualized services to enable earlier testing
  4. Offload testing from the mainframe
  5. Build and deploy in small batches
  6. Start with small pilot projects to build confidence
  7. Use real-time dashboards
  8. Consolidate Supply Chain Management
  9. Build a staged rollout plan
  10. Train the teams in tool usage and process changes
  11. Organize with cross-functional teams
  12. Gain executive buy-in and sponsorship up front
  13. Hire and train millennials on enterprise applications, tools and languages
  14. Employ a loosely-coupled architecture
IBM’s proposed solution to these issues is based around proven technology. It delivers a continuous integration software stack that enables application development for the mainframe and beyond. The developer integrated development environment is Rational Developer for z Systems (RDz) or full Enterprise Integrated Development Environment (IDE) facilities. For automated unit testing there’s zUnit (part of RDz). For off-mainframe z/OS environments, there’s Rational Developer and Test. For collaboration and integration there’s Rational Team Concert (RTC). For environment mirroring there’s Optim (TDM), Urban Code and GreenHat. For continuous delivery there’s Urban Code. And for a quality dashboard there’s RTC.

Rational Developer Enterprise Edition is a modern IDE. You can use Rational Asset Analyzer (RAA) to quickly understand flow and relationships across the enterprise even with little or no documentation. It can analyze, understand and navigate complex application source code, including COBOL, PL/I, Assembler, C/C++, Java/JEE, etc. It will reduce the time to market and the risk of resource shortages by understanding the impact of change, upfront. It understands source code complexity/fragility. It can analyze the impact of potential code changes or database changes. And it can find “dead code” for deletion from source base.

Users can choose from two user interfaces for ease of access and use. There’s integration with Rational Developer for z Systems for IDE users, and there’s a browser-based user interface for dashboard and complex query construction. It also supports enhanced usage scenarios such as COBOL Business Rule identification and capture. It can extend the RAA “vocabulary” to map business terms and properties to those used by developers. And it can leverage RAA’s capabilities to find where rules are encoded in the COBOL source. It can export the results in formats consistent with WODM BRMS technologies. The Rational Development and Test Environment for System z lets users test z/OS software on Intel platforms without using z Systems hardware.

Moving the mainframe to DevOps provides a way to create new applications that will allow all that wonderful data and those fantastic CICS, IMS and DB2-based applications to be used in new ways. Computing is evolving all the time and users’ demands on their computing platforms of choice are increasing all the time. Mainframers need to start thinking about what they should do in their organizations that would allow them to make more frequent and more reliable releases, and make the process as automated as possible. This provides a great way to prevent your mainframe from being sidelined. It can now become a major player in the development of your company’s IT plan. It can provide a business advantage to your organization. And that’s got to be good!

Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, an IT consultancy. A popular speaker and blogger, he currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups. He’s editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, and has been an IBM Champion every year since 2009.

Posted: 4/19/2016 12:00:32 AM by Trevor Eddolls

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