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SHARE Adds DevOps Track to Winter Event

New topic to offer helpful tools and tips to enterprise professionals

11/18/2015 12:00:33 AM | For the first time, SHARE’s annual winter event will feature a track of sessions devoted to DevOps in the enterprise.

Seeing DevOps as a “hot topic” that is always evolving, SHARE has expanded its lineup to fill what it calls an information void. At SHARE in San Antonio, Feb. 28 to March 4, the user group plans to provide education on the many different elements and sides of DevOps, having speakers share their experiences and firsthand information and allowing attendees to establish connections with the professional DevOps community, says Martha McConaghy, Director of Conference Operations, SHARE Inc.

“The applications that run on the mainframe and the people who support them do not exist in a vacuum,” she notes. “They are part of organizations and businesses that are all affected by industry trends and changes in strategies. The practices that are part of the DevOps movement have had an impact on the culture of these businesses and that trend is only going to grow.”

To find out more about the importance and direction of DevOps on the mainframe, Destination z spoke with Rosalind Radcliffe, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Architect for DevOps for IBM z Systems, and one of the volunteers leading the track for SHARE. Radcliffe also recently published the eBook “Mobile to Mainframe DevOps for Dummies” and is a member of TechBeacon’s list of 100 DevOps Leaders, Enthusiasts, and Experts You Should Follow Today.

Transformation Is Key

Destination z: What’s the state of DevOps today and in the near future?
Rosalind Radcliffe: DevOps is a growing trend in many organizations—most Web companies or start-ups today follow this model to some degree. For large-scale enterprises, DevOps generally has started with the distributed applications, or mobile systems of engagement. Those organizations have started their DevOps transformation with the entire enterprise and the mainframe systems are seeing the greatest benefit.

DevOps can mean many different things, as I am using the term it includes transforming the culture of the business, to break down the silos and have collaboration, transparency and automation throughout, from the initial business requirements through the delivery and operations of the function.

In the near future, I see DevOps as the standard large-scale organizations are moving toward. This, however, will be a transformation over time. DevOps is the continuous improvement of the processes toward delivery. I expect it will be years before organizations consider themselves mature DevOps cultures, and that the term “DevOps” will have transitioned to mean something new even before some organizations have fully matured.

Dz: What DevOps trends are you seeing with the mainframe now?
Radcliffe: Organizations are starting to understand they must transform the mainframe development and operations units as well. They can no longer just leave it working as it has. Most mainframe organizations are not delivering business value as quickly as they need to . They must transform their development practices to meet today’s business demands. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • The need to bring on new developers
  • The need to provide more services from the existing systems, and
  • The need to move at a more rapid speed in coordination with the systems of engagement
The first, the need to bring on new developers, has been discussed for years. Today's developers can easily learn a new language such as COBOL or PL/1 but they’re not interested in developing the mainframe code because of the development environment provided. Why would a new developer want to use ISPF when they are used to a modern IDE? For this first transformation, the key aspect is the adoption of modern tools and development practices. One way to help this transition is to do pair programming between the younger developers and the more experienced existing developers. This allows the more experienced developers to learn the new tools and processes and helps the new developers learn the existing business logic in the applications as well as the new language.

The second is the need to evolve into a service provider from the mainframe system. By developing APIs that can be consumed by the systems of engagement the applications can be developed using this loosely coupled architecture, which will allow the systems to be developed faster and allow the coordination of services to meet the current demands of the business. This also allows organizations to truly become service providers, not only internally, but possibly providing those services externally to drive additional revenue.

The third area is the ability to move more rapidly with small incremental changes, allowing quick validation of the function and a more streamlined development process.

Dz: Why is it important for SHARE to have a track devoted to DevOps?
Radcliffe: DevOps is, in many ways, an all-encompassing term for what SHARE has provided over the years, from development through operations. This track will help focus and show those not attending SHARE already, what's available. The goal is to also drive a greater participation from the architects both related to application design as well as systems management. These architects will have a forum for discussion, networking and education, as well as the opportunity to influence the industry on what is required to make the DevOps culture transition easier.

Dz: What kinds of feedback did you get while representing DevOps at SHARE in Orlando?
Radcliffe: It's been a good reception from those trying to understand what it is, to those who are already experienced and who want to learn more. However, there have been a number of people who are learning about DevOps for the first time. By having the track at SHARE we can show the significance of the transformation, and help users understand ways to accept the change. Many of the SHARE attendees are the people who will need to be part of the organizational change; their learning will help them lead this effort within their companies.

Understanding the Value

Radcliffe and McConaghy agree that DevOps is important and works best if everyone understands its value: how it impacts their specific role and strengthens the company end goal.

McConaghy says members and attendees can learn what works and what doesn’t, exchange ideas with others and apply that information to their own company.

“Today, developers are rewarded by delivering function, operations is rewarded by providing availability,” Radcliffe acknowledges. “These can be seen as disconnected rewards, by moving everyone to a common reward system of delivery, everyone can focus on the business value being provided.”

To find out more about the DevOps track at SHARE in San Antonio, visit the SHARE website.

Valerie Dennis is site editor for Destination z.

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