Paving the way for your mainframe DevOps

Making Tracks

Recently, I was in Johannesburg, on my way to visit a client to discuss their Digital Transformation plans and mainframe DevOps initiatives. While stuck in traffic, I noticed how the highway embankments were decorated. They reminded me of something we refer to in the UK as “crazy paving”: lots of different-sized stones carelessly assembled into a rough pathway. The crazy paving style has moved in and out of fashion over the years.

The pathway concept, however, struck me as an interesting metaphor for many of our client’s situation towards IT transformation (stay with me on this).

As is say, trends come and go, in garden design as in IT. Mainframe systems, development processes, agile methodologies. Perceptions change, best practice can change. People have looked at their path, seen a cracked stone, and decided to replace it with a brand new investment. Change one stone of course, and all of a sudden you are considering everything else, potentially ripping up the whole pathway and starting again.

A Technical Journey

A typical enterprise IT landscape may present a similar dilemma. Not all of the delivery pipeline is made of perfectly fitting blocks. Over time, the gaps between them may have widened and some of the blocks may have cracked a little, and may need swapping out. Importantly though, it is still a pipeline, it still works as a whole.

That said, it is often the case that the mainframe delivery pipeline may have flaws and damage. Perhaps, conceptually, some of the pathway, despite still being a sensible approach, is in need of repair.

That’s the same perspective shared by Micro Focus. The reliability of what already works is the basis for any smart solution. The Micro Focus Journey to Enterprise DevOps, is built on equally solid foundations, combining 40 years of experience delivering Enterprise strength tooling with the new Better Together portfolio from being the 7th largest pure-play software company in the world.

Paving the Way

An IT estate and a mainframe application delivery journey are not simple paths. They are ornately constructed, highly eclectic and contain many intricacies and interdependencies.

And, continuing our analogy, no two paths are ever the same, no two strategies are the same – so any solution to repair it would first need a review of what’s there, and a discussion about what the client wants to achieve. In short, it will need a conversation. Therefore, the journey starts with an assessment of what is there today, via the DevOps Value Profile Service Workshop, capturing all the pain points or identifying the loose blocks that may be tripping people up.

A detailed technical and strategic meeting produces an outcome of a Road Map with defined Areas of Improvement (AOI) that are designed to meet both business and IT goals. These will cover areas including cost reduction and positive improvements on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) by which modern IT organisations are measured.

No Stone Unturned

Many of these AOI involve filling the gaps between typical roadblocks in the mainframe delivery pipeline. I’ve come across a number of such issues in the recent past, which can include (but certainly are not limited to) the following –

– Connecting mainframe SCCM tooling to Agile Planning and Tracking tools or to Continuous Build engines eases adoption of Agile development methodologies in mainframe development lifecycles and helps break down the siloes with consistency of process and improved visibility across teams.

– Decreasing the reliance on limited mainframe resources by provisioning testing environments off-host, whether on premise or in the cloud, removes the roadblocks that increase lead times. These flexible environments also open up opportunities to introduce greater amounts of the automated testing and the ability to consider your mainframe as part of your containerisation strategy.

Increased application understanding, through intelligent code analysis, helps with the major issue of SME skills loss (apparently we are getting old!). It also enables a review of the mainframe application architecture, deciding how to reuse business rules and logic, introduce support for APIs and Microservices, and simplify development, maintenance and testing.

– Increased Developer efficiency through the introduction of modern IDEs with smart editing, local syntax check and unit testing capabilities.

The benefits of adopting modern methodologies, IDEs and tooling remove the barriers for new developers. These 4 issues are common across many organizations, although no two cases are ever exactly the same.

The resulting Road Map, our recommendation to each client, has enabled us to work together with customers to deliver incremental improvements to their mainframe delivery pipeline. These improvements have had positive impact on pertinent KPI, such as increasing Developer efficiency by up to 40%, reducing test cycles by 20% and reducing test and development costing by 40%.

Find out more on how to make the mainframe an equal, pioneering player in the organizational transformation process by registering to our next DevOps Webinar series: The importance of Making Your Mainframe Agile.

Discover a unique approach that paves the way to Enterprise DevOps for the mainframe that is not going to drive anyone crazy. If any aspect of Mainframe DevOps is causing you to trip on your own path, I’d love the chance to talk it over with you, find me on Twitter and I will find a way we can help…..

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