We Built This City on…DevOps

With a history that is more industrial than inspirational, a few eyebrows were raised when Hull won the bid to become the UK’s city of culture for 2017. While unlikely, it is now true, and the jewel of East Riding is boasting further transformation as it settles in to its new role as the cultural pioneer for the continent.  Why not? After all, cultures change, attitudes change. People’s behaviour, no matter what you tell them to do, will ultimately decide outcomes. Or, as Peter Drucker put it, Culture eats Strategy for breakfast.

As we look ahead to other cultural changes in 2017, the seemingly ubiquitous DevOps approach looks like a change that has already made it to the mainstream.

But there remains an open question about whether implementing DevOps is really a culture shift in IT, or whether it’s more of a strategic direction. Or, indeed, whether it’s a bit of both. I took a look at some recent industry commentary to try to unravel whether a pot of DevOps culture would indeed munch away on a strategic breakfast.

A mainstream culture?

Recently, I reported that Gartner predicted about 45% of the enterprise IT world were on a DevOps trajectory. 2017 could be, statistically at least, the year when DevOps goes mainstream. That’s upheaval for a lot of organizations.

We’ve spoken before about the cultural aspects of DevOps transformation: in a recent blog I outlined three fundamental tenets of embracing the necessary cultural tectonic shift required for larger IT organizations to embrace DevOps:

  • Stakeholder Management

Agree the “end game” of superior new services and customer satisfaction with key sponsors, and outline that DevOps is a vehicle to achieve that. Articulated  in today’s digital age it is imperative that the IT team (the supplier) seeks to engage more frequently with their users.

  • Working around Internal Barriers

Hierarchies are hard to break down, and a more nimble approach is often to establish cross-functional teams to take on specific projects that are valuable to the business, but relatively finite in scope, such that the benefits of working in a team-oriented approach become self-evident quickly. Add to this the use of internal DevOps champions to espouse and explain the overall approach.

  • Being Smart with Technology

There are a variety of technical solutions available to improving development, testing and efficiency of collaboration for mainframe teams. Hitherto deal-breaking delays and bottlenecks caused by older procedures and even older tooling can be removed simply by being smart about what goes into the DevOps tool-chain. Take a look at David Lawrence’s excellent review of the new Micro Focus technology to support better configuration and delivery management of mainframe applications.

In a recent blog, John Gentry talked about the “Culture Shift” foundational to a successful DevOps adoption. The SHARE EXECUForum 2016 show held a round-table discussion specifically about the cultural changes required for DevOps. Culture clearly matters. However, these and Drucker’s pronouncements notwithstanding, culture is only half the story.

Strategic Value?

The strategic benefit of DevOps is critical. CIO.com recently talked about how DevOps can help “redefine IT strategy”. After all, why spend all that time on cultural upheaval without a clear view of the resultant value?

In another recent article, the key benefits of DevOps adoption were outlined as

  • Fostering Genuine Collaboration inside and outside IT
  • Establishing End-to-End automation
  • Delivering Faster
  • Establishing closer ties with the user

Elsewhere, an overtly positive piece by Automic gave no fewer than 10 good reasons to embrace DevOps, including fostering agility, saving costs, turning failure into continuous improvement, removing silos, find issues more quickly and building a more collaborative environment.

How such goals become measurable metrics isn’t made clear by the authors, but the fact remains that most commentators see significant strategic value in DevOps. Little wonder that this year’s session agenda at SHARE includes a track called DevOps in the Enterprise, while the events calendar for 2017 looks just as busy again with DevOps shows.

Make It Real

So far that’s a lot of talk and not a lot of specific detail. Changing organizational culture is so nebulous as to be almost indefinable – shifting IT culture toward a DevOps oriented approach covers a multitude of factors in terms of behaviour, structure, teamwork, communication and technology it’s worthy of studies in its own right.  Strategically, transforming IT to be a DevOps shop requires significant changes in flexibility, efficiency and collaboration between teams, as well as an inevitable refresh in the underlying tool chain, as it is often referred.

To truly succeed at DevOps, one has to look and the specific requirements and desired outcomes:  being able to work out specifically, tangibly and measurably what is needed, and how it can be achieved, is critical. Without this you have a lot of change and little clarity on whether it does any good.

Micro Focus’ recent white paper “From Theory to Reality” (download here) discusses the joint issues of cultural and operational change as enterprise-scale IT shops look to gain benefits from adopting a DevOps model. It cites three real customer situations where each has tackled a specific situation in its own way, and the results of doing so.

Learn More

Each organization’s DevOps journey will be different, and must meet specific internal needs. Why not join Micro Focus at the upcoming SHARE, DevDay or #MFSummit2017 shows to hear for how major IT organizations are transforming how they deliver value through DevOps, with the help of Micro Focus technology.

If you want to build an IT service citadel of the future, it had better be on something concrete. Talk to Micro Focus to find out how.

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2016: Leading Change

Mark Levy reports back from #DOES16 in San Francisco – is this is the year that DevOps crosses the chasm? What did he find out from the experts like Gene Kim? Read on to find out the answers and more in this fascinating blog….

Last week I attended the DevOps Enterprise Summit (#DOES16) in San Francisco which brought together over 1300 IT professionals to learn and discuss with their peers the practices and patterns of high performance IT for large complex environments. One of the first things I noticed was that the overall structure of the event was different from your standard IT event.  All the sessions over the three-day event followed an “Experience Report” format. Each session was only 30 minutes in length and each speaker followed the same specific pattern, which enabled current DevOps practitioners to share what they did, what happened, and what they learned. The event also had workshops leveraging the “Lean Coffee” format where participants gathered, built an agenda, and began discussing DevOps topics that were pertinent to their particular environment.  In my opinion, these session formats made the overall conference exciting and fast paced.

Enterprise DevOps Crosses the Chasm

One question remained a focus throughout the event: “Is this the year that Enterprise DevOps crosses the chasm?” #DOES16 seems to believe so. The main theme for this year’s event was “Leading Change”. Gene Kim opened the event by highlighting results of the latest DevOps survey which found IT organizations that leveraged DevOps practices were able to deliver business value faster, with better quality, more securely, and they had more fun doing it!  With over four years of survey data, we now know that these high performers are massively out performing their peers. The focus of #DOES16 was to provide a forum where current DevOps practitioners from large IT organizations were able to share their experience with others who are just starting their journey. DevOps transformation stories from large enterprise companies such as Allstate, American Airlines, Capital One, Target, Walmart, and Nationwide proved that DevOps is not just reserved for the start-ups in Silicon Valley.

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There were also several new books focused on DevOps practices launched at #DOES16.  Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Dubois, and John Willis collaborated to create the “DevOps Handbook”, and renowned DevOps thought leader and author Gary Gruver released his new book “Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise”. Both books focus on how large enterprises can gain better business outcomes by implementing DevOps practices at scale and in my opinion are must reads for DevOps practitioners as well as senior management.

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It’s a Journey from “Aha to Ka-Ching”

DevOps is not “something you do” but a state you continuously move towards by doing other things. it’s a journey of continuous improvement. During the event, several companies highlighted that it’s a journey of experimentation, accepting failure along the way, while also incrementally improving the way they build and deliver software. There were some excellent case study presentations. For example, Heather Mickman, Sr. Director of Technology Services at Target, has presented three years in a row and showed how a grassroots, bottoms up DevOps transformation at Target has enabled the company to enlist the support of executive management. Target was able to scale software deployments from 2-3 per day in 2015 to 90 per day twelve months later.  The Target team achieved this by aligning product teams with business capabilities, removing friction points, and making everything self-service. What’s next for Target?  Take everything to the cloud.  The journey continues.

If you want to go far, go together

Leading change was the main theme of the event and was highlighted in many different ways. For example, Microsoft discussed their new vision of enabling any engineer to contribute to any product or service at Microsoft, thus leading the change to a single engineering system. Engineers follow an “engineering north star” with the objective that dev can move to another team and already know how to work. Leading change does not just focus on new innovation. DevOps is also about innovating with your “Core”.  Walmart’s mainframe team took the lead and created a Web caching service at scale that distributed teams could leverage. While both examples show how technology is being used to move forward together, there has to be a culture that supports this type of high performance. Many sessions focused on how to build a generative culture and the leadership that is required to change people and processes.

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Creating a culture that supports a successful DevOps transformation is such an important topic, that I have invited Gene Kim to come on our next Micro Focus DevOps Drive-in, December 1, 2016 at  9am PST to discuss the research he conducted while developing his latest book, “The DevOps Handbook”, and techniques to build a culture of continuous experimentation and learning. Hope to see you there!

The choice is yours – #DevDay drivers

The Micro Focus DevDay roadshow continues to attract large crowds. David Lawrence attended our latest shows to learn why it remains the must-see event for the COBOL community

#DevDay draws in the crowds

With hundreds of attendees over the past 12 months, Micro Focus DevDays continue to pack them in. Last  week’s events in New York and Toronto were no exception. This blog uncovers why so many of the global COBOL community attend our event.

We spoke with application developers from institutions, large and small, looking for solutions to build on, maintain, extend and adapt their inventory of business-critical COBOL applications to meet new business needs or opportunities. These customers view COBOL as fundamental to their respective business strategy and operations, not just for today, but into the future. These clients have, by and large, seen how extending and adapting their current proven and reliable COBOL solutions delivers more value faster, and with less risk than other strategies.

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Skilling up

One attendee we spoke with came to DevDays because of increasing new business demands on his application portfolio. This person has been looking to increase his COBOL staff to meet them. He had advertised for COBOL programmers, but it seemed there were none to be found in his market. So, he is changing his approach, and has now decided to bring in a skilled C# or Java developer and train them in-house on COBOL.

We suggested the expediency of putting these new staff members in front of a modern IDE for COBOL, one which looks and feels like the modern IDEs available for Java or C#, and is supported for both Eclipse and Visual Studio environments. Micro Focus Visual COBOL and Enterprise Developer fit the bill nicely. These modern IDE’s offer advanced automation features, such as configurable, panel-based layouts, wizards, and a context sensitive editor, and, a seamless interaction with modern managed code environments (Java and/or .NET). They will be entirely familiar to those from a Java or .NET background.

Coincidentally, that topic was covered in the afternoon session which showed Micro Focus’ solutions for mainframe developers:  Enterprise Analyzer and Enterprise Developer. We heard from C# programmers who found that by using Enterprise Developer as their IDE they were productive in COBOL in less than a week.

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Go OO – ­and fast

In response to a question about working with object-oriented solutions, the audience was treated to a live demo by Micro Focus’s own Mike Bleistein. Using the standard capabilities of our development tools, Mike built an interface to a traditional relational database, using an older COBOL application. Mike used our object oriented COBOL classes to create a simple mortgage rate query application with a modern user interface, which made it more accessible and more easily used than the ‘green screen’, text-based implementation it would replace.  Such a transformation takes an hour for a simple application, a fraction of the time it would take to take to do this by hand.

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Banking on the latest capabilities

Another attendee, a major international banking client, uses our mainframe development technology. They wanted to identify a path towards implementing the latest release of our Enterprise Developer product. This release offers a more efficient Eclipse-based environment which will integrate into their existing Eclipse environment. In addition, this customer is also seeking ways to establish a more available and easily managed mainframe test environment, which is another of the Micro Focus enterprise technology offerings.

Opening up Open Systems

A developer whose organization builds and operates core COBOL systems under UNIX, said their reason for attending DevDay was driven by market demand. Their challenge is simple – how can their core business service be made available across new internet and mobile interfaces? Establishing a modern, digital interface for their clients is vital. Our experts showed the Micro Focus Visual COBOL technology, which does just that, providing insight in to how that challenge can be met, fast, at low risk.

Technology choices

We spoke with an independent software developer. Devising a new application, the developer has been exploring a range of modern development technologies for building the right ‘front end’. But when we asked them about the core business processing, they confessed “That’s a no brainer – it has to be COBOL – it’s the best tool for the job”. DevDay showed them live examples of how COBOL and newer technologies can integrate and co-exist in today’s platforms.

Micro Focus – the COBOL guys

So, what are we saying here? Simple – a great many organizations, all facing unique challenges, keep turning and returning to COBOL, and Micro Focus technology, to resolve their issues.

Micro Focus continues to invest over $60 million annually to support just about any COBOL environment our customers have run in the past and present, or will run in the future. It was great to meet many of them this week in New York and Toronto. Here’s to many more #DevDay events.

David Lawrence

Global Sales Enablement Specialist

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We’re heading to Oracle Open World

This Ed Airey blog explains how the modern enterprise can harness technology and technique to outpace and counter the changing face of completion and achieve sustainable business agility. Ed will be at Oracle Open World discussing this further at his session: Destination Java: Take enterprise apps to JVM and the Cloud so if you’re attending don’t hesitate to find him and chat more…

Into the Future: new tools for the agile enterprise

What is the agile enterprise? Is it an organization ready to respond to new demands or business opportunity, rapid changes in the market or changes in consumer demand?  To survive-it must achieve all these goals and more. This is the new norm for 21st century business – ever increasing flexibility. But how does business obtain and keep that nimble responsiveness to change? Is there a secret ingredient to the recipe of organizations that have done so already?  To be agile is to be adaptable—to flex and shift to meet the challenges of one’s environment. Just as the chameleon adapts to his surroundings shielding itself from predators a business organization must adjust its strategy and approach to counter its competition.  For most enterprise shops this is not an easy feat. Mired in technical debt, most IT leaders struggle to manage their IT backlog alongside new business initiatives.  Addressing both requires new thinking, new tech and a new approach to enterprise modernization.

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The Case for Modernization

For organizations struggling to cope with increasing IT debt and an older enterprise application portfolio, consider the innovative path taken by a very well-known European auto-manufacturer.  For years, this organization maintained a sterling reputation for quality, performance and service.  Its aging IT infrastructure, however, now plagued with stability problems threatened its ability to both service its customers and maintain its industry prestige.

The manufacturer considered a complete replacement of its core application infrastructure but quickly realized this would be both costly and risky to business operations.  In a fiercely competitive auto market, competitive advantage was paramount and this organization couldn’t afford to lose a step to the competition by disregarding its precious intellectual property.

Modern tools and new technology was employed to modernize its core enterprise applications. Using the power of Eclipse, new and existing IT teams could quickly integrate existing enterprise applications with Java, web services and other solutions. Enterprise application deployment to the Java virtual machine (JVM) enabled future flexibility and scale to meet new business requirements and opportunity. Modern tools and a new mindset delivered fast results—all without rewriting valued application code.

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Oracle Open World #OOW16

The key to this strategy—unlock the value of IT investments. This year in San Francisco at the Oracle Open World event come and see the future of enterprise application modernization for yourself.  Explore how to easily take existing enterprise systems to new platforms including Java, the JVM, and Linux.  We’ll examine how this European car manufacturer and other businesses took their enterprise applications to modern environments using new tools, new thinking and Micro Focus’ game changing solution Visual COBOL

If you’re attending please don’t hestitate to come and visit us at our booth at the Networking Station @ Oracle Linux, Virtualization and OpenStack Showcase and please attend my sessionTake Enterprise Apps to Java Virtual Machine and the Cloud’ on Tuesday, Sep 20 at 16:00 -16:20 in the Moscone South Exhibition Hall to discuss modernization options further….

Ed

Product Managers Unite!

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked. Lenore Adam investigates Atlas in her first Micro Focus blog post, enjoy!

With dev, test, and biz teams, that is.  Thanks to a Micro Focus Atlas, product managers can now be at one with dev, test, and business teams.

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked.

Capturing evolving customer needs and understanding the impact of these changes on schedules, resources, and budgets are what product managers do.  PMs are the voice of the customer for engineering, and the financial and business analyst for the executive committee.  But to do the job properly they need information in real time for insightful analysis.

  •  How will a new customer requirement impact the release cycle?
  • Which requirements caused the project timeline to slip?
  • How much development time was spent on a specific requirement?

This need for knowledge has driven the development of Micro Focus Atlas requirements management software. Let’s put Atlas to the test with a couple scenarios.

Your customers demand a new requirement. Development asks ‘exactly how badly do you need this?’

Product managers often have to evaluate trade-offs, like whether a new feature is worth a schedule delay.  They rely on data to support recommendations, but without good data, sound judgment is compromised.  One of my mentors used to chant ‘the data will show you the way’.  But how?

To begin with, you need your finger on the pulse of current activity.  Atlas creates a bi-directional link with DevOps and Agile tooling.  Customer requirements created in Atlas are sent to the Agile backlog, establishing a direct connection between customer requirements and the dispersed stories and tasks needed to execute that requirement. Automatic status updates of these activities are centralized back into Atlas and available for PMs. No black box of engineering activity, no need to interrupt busy engineering managers for updates.  Setting up the sync is pretty straightforward as these YouTube postings prove:

Syncing Atlas & Rally

Syncing Atlas & JIRA

Syncing TFS & Atlas

Now, with an eye on the future, use this data within the Atlas environment to develop a what-if planning scenario to evaluate options.  What would be the expected schedule impact if a new feature was included in the release?  Does the potential increase in revenue offset the expected schedule delay?  Linking engineering activities to customer requirements gives projects teams the tools needed to make better decisions.

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So why did the schedule slip?

The execs promised the sales teams and customers a timely delivery. So what went wrong?  Feature creep?  Did specific features take significantly longer to execute than planned?

Use the Atlas Time Machine feature to clarify cause and effect.  Explain why the original estimate was so far off with historical tracking that summarizes which stories were added, removed, or updated and how this impacted schedule over time.

Leverage the data in Atlas for your project post mortem to make the next project even better.  Atlas project baselining is where the team hits ‘rewind’ to uncover the original project definition and scope. The version control identifies each change, the person who made it and any associated discussions for context.  For the multi-disciplinary team, this is an opportunity for an informed discussion and objective review after the whirlwind of development and release.

The hands-on executive – ‘hey, remember what happened the last time you did that?’ 

What happens when an executive bypasses the decision-making process?  Suddenly, a requirement ‘proposal’ becomes a new requirement, end of story.  True confession: we often padded our schedules and budgets with a line item affectionately labeled ‘friends of execs’ to factor in these unpredictable yet inevitable curve balls.

The trick is to view the schedule before and after the unplanned insertion in a previous project.  Was there a schedule slip – and if so, how bad was it?  Even understand the breadth of impact by using the Atlas Relationship Diagram to trace downstream requirements that may also have been impacted.

And here’s the killer data point you need to save the project from unhelpful top-floor intervention:  How much development time was chewed up by the requirement?  That said, Atlas just records the facts. You’ll need to draw on all your expert diplomacy skills to present them. Try ‘Just sayin’…’

Micro Focus Application Delivery and Testing   

Accelerated delivery.  Continuous quality.

Make Atlas your resource for uniting business, development, and test teams. And it doesn’t cost a cent to get started. Access a free cloud-based trial of Atlas 3.0 and start.

Introducing Micro Focus Enterprise Sync: Delivering Faster Change

Delivering Mainframe DevOps involves managing a lot more change a lot more often. This might need improving processes, but also demands more of technology. Amie Johnson unveils how Micro Focus is supporting collaborative change.

Introduction

At Micro Focus, we believe mainframe organizations can achieve DevOps levels of efficiency by just taking advantage of modern, efficient tools, agile development practices and fostering better team collaboration. It’s simply a matter of incrementally removing application delivery bottlenecks.

As such, Micro Focus just introduced a new product within our Enterprise Solution set aimed at helping mainframe developers deliver new releases, faster.

Enterprise Sync tackles head on one of the major delivery bottlenecks our customers encounter: coordinating and orchestrating rapid code change – needed in a DevOps model – using conventional mainframe configuration management tools.

The product supports rapid, contemporary parallel development to provide a means to adopt a more agile delivery method across mainframe development teams.

Why can’t we deliver multiple streams?

DevOps promises to eradicate delays in IT delivery. So, in the mainframe world, what’s the bottleneck?

One of the issues is all about how deliveries are managed. As robust as they are, trusted old mainframe configuration management tools weren’t designed to support parallel development, so multi-stream code merges are difficult, manual and prone to error. But, these mainframe configuration management tools hold unique configuration detail and metadata which are essential to supporting critical mainframe applications. So, while replacing such tools completely is out of the question, customers are looking for ways to support a more agile delivery model.

Removing Barriers

The Micro Focus solution, Enterprise Sync, helps solve the bottleneck associated with a desire to introduce parallel development activities. It does this by replicating mainframe source code to a distributed software configuration management platform. Code changes made via parallel development on the distributed platform are automatically synchronized with the mainframe SCM environment, such as CA Endevor. The integration and synchronization effectively introduces a new paradigm of speed and accuracy in delivering parallel development streams for mainframe delivery. This seamless integration with established software change management tools uniquely addresses the need to deliver faster change while preserving the organization’s valuable investment in mainframe processes and their software change and configuration management environment.

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As part of the wider Micro Focus Enterprise product set, Enterprise Sync works collaboratively with our flagship mainframe application development tool, Enterprise Developer, to deliver:

  • Easier parallel development at scale across releases or teams
  • Greater efficiency through management and visualization of code change using modern tools
  • Alignment with current mainframe development process and source code
  • Improved developer productivity through continuous integration of key updates

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Find out more

Establishing a modern mainframe delivery environment may be central to your DevOps strategy. Learn more about how Micro Focus can help with a complementary Value Profile Service. See what’s possible and hear more about how Micro Focus has helped transform mainframe application delivery.

Achieve DevOps levels of efficiency, flexibility and collaboration. Learn more about the new Enterprise Sync release on the website, or download the product datasheet.

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3-2-1: The #DevDay Countdown has begun

With dozens of cities and thousands of delegates in the past four years – our #DevDay event is more popular than ever. Jackie Anglin previews this year’s exciting updates to the COBOL community’s must-attend show.

Introduction

It’s spring. And to mark the season of renewal and growth, we’re announcing the latest incarnation of our highly popular event series, Micro Focus #DevDay!  Now in its fourth year, #DevDay offers an out-of-this-world lineup of technical information, case studies and networking opportunities for you.  What’s new and different about this year? Let’s take a closer look….

The only constant is change

This year’s #DevDay is all about embracing change and let’s face it – change within IT is constant.  Platforms, architectures, applications, and delivery processes are continually adapting to meet new business requirements and market pressures.  But in order to achieve successful, lasting change, IT skills must also evolve and that’s what Micro Focus #DevDay is all about – technical education, building new skills and stronger community engagement. #DevDay delivers on this promise with a rocket booster of innovative content just for the enterprise application development community.

Today’s need: skill and speed

According to a recent Accenture survey, 91% believe organizational success is linked to the ability to adapt and evolve workforce skills. For starters, the business needs to respond to new competitive pressures, keep existing customers, retain market share and capitalize on new business opportunity, and these are just a few reasons. What makes this change proposition more challenging today is the plethora of new innovations in areas like mobile, cloud or IoT technologies including the connected devices we wear, drive or use to secure our homes. This requires an unprecedented technological prowess in IT.

But being smart won’t be enough on its own. This surge in the digital marketplace requires IT shops adapt faster than ever in order to keep pace with this unprecedented consumer demand for instant, accurate and elegantly designed content. Anywhere on the spectrum of status quo is no longer acceptable.  Delivering services in this new era requires tight business and IT alignment, better application delivery processes, greater efficiency and of course – speed.  For organizations, large and small, IT capability is the new competitive differentiator and as your responsive IT partner, Micro Focus, will help you meet these challenges.  Which brings us back to this year’s #DevDay lineup.

There is space for you at #DevDay

For organizations with IBM mainframe and other enterprise COBOL applications that need to move faster (without breaking things), #DevDay is for you.  Whether you manage COBOL apps in a distributed environment, or work with critical systems on the mainframe, or whether you work with those who do, here’s a list of reasons you should attend: latest tech content, real-world case studies, hands-on experience, a peer networking reception and our famously difficult ‘stump a Micro Focus expert’ contest.

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A universe of technology

This year’s #DevDay series is packed with new technology topics including platform portability, app development using Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs, mainframe DevOps, .NET, Java integration and much more.

Here are just a few of today’s highly relevant topics on the agenda:

  • REST assured with COBOL: API-enable your business systems
  • Dealing with Data: COBOL and RDBMS integration made simple
  • The modern mainframe: Deliver applications faster. Get better results

You – at the controls

#DevDay now offers a brand new opportunity to build hands on experience with our latest COBOL products.  Led by our experts, you can test drive for yourself some of the powerful new capabilities available to the enterprise application developer. You must pre-register to participate.  To do so, click here.

#DevDay: Future AppDev takes off

#DevDay is focused on you – the enterprise COBOL development community.  This is a perfect chance to learn best practices and experiences, connect with like-minded professionals, as well as build new technical skills.  Don’t miss this opportunity. Join us for a truly intergalactic #DevDay experience.  Seating is limited, so register now before the space-time continuum distorts!

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Touching Down Near You Soon

United States

Canada

Brazil

See what happens at a #DevDay and find us on social media.

For those about to code – we salute you!

The #COBOLrocks TechCasts are good to go. But what are they, why should you care – and do they rock? Our #COBOLrock journalist, #Rockin’ Mel Burns, has the skinny….

I think the word ‘rocking’ is used too often and in the wrong places. Rocking could mean anything and don’t bother asking Google. But the #COBOLrocks TechCasts rock. And this blog explains why.

So what makes something rock? Adding hashtags to random words doesn’t make them rock. #FlatTire. #Toothache. #MichaelBolton. Does application development rock? Maybe not. So – can COBOL really rock? Hmm. ‘Alright! A 40-year-old COBOL banking application! Lemme hear you say yeah!’ Hmm again.

But suppose you used that same code to create something really ‘out there’ that performed way beyond what the original programmers imagined? How would you feel if you could show the world what innovation really looks like – and all you needed to know was how to do it?

It’s not about the app

The #COBOLrocks TechCasts are six, weekly, technical webinars that last for 30 minutes each. That’s not especially rocking. But it’s not what they are. It’s what they help you do.  You could…

  • Open the door to application modernization. (That kind of rocks.)
  • Take a decades-old application to mobile.
  • Reuse COBOL code to create a fresh new UI. (Closer to rocking.)
  • Boost efficiency with an integrated development toolset. (Ooh. Rocky.)
  • Enhance the COBOL developer experience with a modern IDE.
  • Free you to do the innovative stuff you actually like doing. (Boom! We have rock.)

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What rocks?

So, for COBOL application developers it’s not the TechCasts themselves that kick you-know-what.  It’s the doors they open and the opportunities they offer.

This rocks

The bottom line is that for devs, rocking is all about bringing new functionality to the old but gold. It’s about showing what you can do and achieving way more than the original coders could have imagined.

Because for all their great riffs, Deep Purple were no help in modernizing COBOL applications and Keef can’t make your life easier by enabling you to do things better and faster.

So sign up for the #COBOLrocks TechCasts, post your questions on Twitter using @MicroFocus and the #COBOLasks hashtag, or ask the Micro Focus community and let’s get your COBOL applications rocking like Saturday night, every day of the week.

DevOps Adoption – A Problem SHAREd…

After another hugely positive SHARE event, Derek Britton from Micro Focus reflects on one of the hottest topics in enterprise IT today: DevOps.

Great Minds…

The digital era is forcing organizations to meet customer demand faster than ever. Delivering better IT faster is at the heart of the DevOps promise. At this month’s SHARE event in San Antonio, Texas, the mainframe community took its responsibilities for DevOps very seriously. Technical tracks on DevOps and application development, test and delivery were high in number. Additionally the SHARE EXECUforum breakout featured a panel discussion on DevOps, featuring industry commentators. I was lucky enough to participate on the panel, which also included

  • Jeff Henry, Vice President of Product Management at CA Technologies, responsible for driving cross platform business solutions
  • David Rizzo, Director of Product Development, responsible for leading the development of Compuware products
  • Rosalind Radcliffe, Distinguished Engineer within IBM, and Chief Architect for DevOps for Enterprise Systems
SHARE EXECUforum DevOps panel
SHARE EXECUforum DevOps panel

Official excerpts from the SHARE EXECUform discussion on DevOps are the property of the SHARE organization (and available to their members). What became clear during the discussion is that many of the topics aligned with Micro Focus’ thinking on the topic. Here are my personal takeaways from an illuminating discussion.

Why DevOps and why now?

The panel agreed on why now is the right time for DevOps to prevail. IT in 2016, and the commercial world it serves, has changed almost beyond recognition from even 10 years ago. Through greater consumerization – demand from vocal and fickle customers has increased to become a torrent of requirements. Meanwhile, the method of supply has also proliferated beyond comparison, in a BYO anything, always on, always available market. Almost inevitably, the volume and variety of information available and expected is growing and growing, as the pace of change continues to accelerate.

Supplying those information services faster and faster is a necessary outcome of the evolution of the digital economy. DevOps promises to help deliver IT faster by removing barriers to delivery and collaboration, by being smarter across the delivery cycle.

A Cultural Conundrum

Changing an organization to work in a different way is anything but easy, but that’s what DevOps entails. The cultural ramifications of DevOps adoption was the foundation of the panel discussion. Considerations included –

Business sponsorship: popular though it might be, DevOps is usually an IT initiative. It needs the business to acknowledge and accept the initiative as one that has business merit; which in turn requires the desired outcome to be quantified and approved. As I stated during the panel discussion, “IT is under pressure from the business to explain the value of DevOps”

Proof of value: Businesses are reticent to undergo huge internal change without demonstrable proof. Selecting an appropriate project or activity that illustrates the value of DevOps is worthwhile if not imperative.

Infrastructure: Determining the key areas of change is also fundamental. Job functions, underlying technology usage, workflow and collaboration, even entire departments, are subject to possible major upheaval longer term. Failing to plan those aspects carefully will only impact longer term adoption.

(For more Cultural aspects – read my recent blog)

Technology Questions

Plans for cultural adoption will fall on stony ground, however, without resolution of key important technological considerations, a couple of which were discussed by the panel:

Unifying Development – with different teams working in different ways in different tools, inviting them to work together is futile without unifying how they work.

Streamlining Testing – As IBM’s Rosalind Radcliffe states “It doesn’t help to … improve the productivity of the development team if there isn’t an environment for them to develop and run their … tests”. Resolving testing bottlenecks is a major consideration.

DevOps on show

It wasn’t just conversation on offer to SHARE delegates, however; delegates had a chance to watch demonstrations of powerful IDE and testing technology at the heart of the DevOps proposition. During one of the technical sessions, the IDE Shootout, Micro Focus joined other vendors in showing the power at IT’s fingertips today as they explore ways to leverage DevOps to help eradicate enterprise delivery bottlenecks. Technical expert Bob Schoppert led the charge in showcasing how Micro Focus’ contemporary mainframe modernization technology can make a significant difference in unifying the development process, increasing development efficiency and breaking through problems in testing capacity and bandwidth.

Efficient, unified mainframe application development from Micro Focus
Efficient, unified mainframe application development from Micro Focus

Conclusion

DevOps is going main-stream and smart organizations are looking to adopt it as a modern approach to address the challenges of the digital economy. Using a careful cultural approach and smart, contemporary technology will offer a route towards successful implementation. If you want to join the discussion – learn more about our DevOps perspective, and expect more of the same at the next SHARE event: see you in Atlanta!

DevOps and Organizational Culture

In the Micro Focus blog series on DevOps, Derek Britton looked the bottlenecks of low collaboration, inefficient development and lengthy testing cycles and how they can be overcome with a pragmatic, technological solution. Here, he turns his attention to that most indiscernible of obstacles: corporate culture.

Letting it breathe

In the Micro Focus blog series on DevOps, I looked the bottlenecks of low collaboration, inefficient development and lengthy testing cycles and how a pragmatic technological solution can overcome them. Here my attention turns to that most indiscernible of obstacles: corporate culture.

Introduction

It has been said that 2016 could be the year DevOps came of age. It continues to gain mindshare including large enterprise accounts. Gartner projects a quarter of the Global 2,000 will have adopted DevOps this year, growing by 21%. Reflecting growing popularity, SHARE in March 2016 has its own DevOps track: “DevOps in the Enterprise”. SHARE has also added a DevOps discussion to its “EXECUforum” agenda, entitled “DevOps: Cultural Mindset”. (We are delighted to join luminaries from IBM, Compuware and CA on the panel).

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DevOps, as the name suggests, is a technical approach to a necessary business change, namely building new services faster for the business. Put another way, DevOps is a process change, a means to an end. Changing to embrace DevOps affects a number of disparate organizational elements, from IT groups to business, user and customer communities. Clearly, there are important cultural questions in terms of how the organization is ready to embrace DevOps. Culture is widely recognized as being at least as important as strategy. As one report observed, “Changing the culture and mind-set of people is not easy.”

Cultural Barriers to Adoption

Adopting DevOps may flounder for a variety of cultural reasons.

Why are we doing this? While establishing an agile-based methodology in the IT organization makes a lot of sense and, according to history, yielded impressive early results, the parent organization may often be ignorant of the new process. In fact, the business may still expect product roadmap milestones to be planned and met on an annualised basis as part of a traditional regimented plan-build-deliver cycle, unaware of the new dynamic. For IT, breaking down Portfolio and Product plans into Epic and then Iterations is -with a group of trained professionals working together –both viable and valuable. However, ensuring such plans are agreed and acted upon by the consumers of the technology (whether internal users or sales/marketing/customer representatives) is much, much harder, especially when the reason for the change is not clear outside IT. So while like-minded technicians might flock towards DevOps, end-users won’t subscribe to what is probably perceived as extra work for them. They just want results, working apps, not more work. They can’t see the benefit of change.

DevOps3

Moving from big to small. DevOps espouses more rapid, incremental deliveries and a tighter feedback cycle to resolve difficulties and achieve customer satisfaction more quickly. That switch requires the shift from large-scale orchestrated deliveries to more frequent, smaller-scale incremental efforts. The change in dynamics mean there will be greater coordination required by more people on a more regular basis, and a certain level of disentanglement of both application sets and job functions. As one observer put it, successful adoption will require teams to “Embrace the Chaos”. But chaotic it will be, and for larger, more-established, more hierarchical organizations, or those who preside over larger (sometimes referred to as monolithic) systems, that chaos will be most keenly felt.

We don’t have the bandwidth. Restricted infrastructure resources, a problem sometimes faced in large organizations with many parallel work streams is another genuine concern. In some organisations, the change from one model to another might just feel too big. One of the most common bottlenecks is the inability to undertake rapid test cycles as part of a process of continuous integration. With autonomous teams and no restrictions on test environments, as DevOps will need, rapid testing sounds viable. However in a more traditional, regimented IT world, where resources are allocated as part of a planned-for, charged-for system, “just running some tests” is not as simple as that. It might take days, if not longer, to commission a test environment and a very real budget to manage.

Cultural Change – Practicality and Transparency

DevOps is a major upheaval, a major change program. Such change programs need to be clearly outlined, understood, and measurable. So how might DevOps promote wider cultural acceptance?

Get Out There. Failure to involve all stakeholders in a major change program will result in inevitable resistance. Ignorance of why the change is being made will hamper progress. Establishing a clear vision across the organization of why there is a new approach to software deliveries is the fundamental cornerstone of its adoption. To that end, stakeholders need to hear that the reason for the new approach is that the organization is trying to improve the quality of the technology service, and is therefore aiming to deliver more frequently to determine faster feedback, and course-correct. Such a vision is predicated by a top-down C-level sponsorship. After all, the “end game” is new services and customer satisfaction or some other tangible strategic business benefit: DevOps is merely a vehicle to achieve that. Explained this way, especially in the always-on digital age, it is wholly appropriate and acceptable for the supplier to seek to engage more frequently with their users. In a business context in vision, the purpose of DevOps becomes far more tangible and sensible to non-IT stakeholders.

Get Amongst IT. Similarly, for teams responsible for delivering software, from the development, QA and operations functions, previous functional silos and hierarchy no longer apply so readily. But transitioning to a team-oriented structure may take time. Some organizations are borrowing ideas from Agile by establishing functional teams which are temporary for the duration of a major release, or epic, etc. Additionally, many IT organizations are driving internal change with the help of a senior DevOps champion. One organization I know has chosen their new CIO specifically because of their DevOps experience and vision.

Build Bridges. There may appear to be no straightforward resolution to incumbent resource availability (be it related to people, hardware or software), and this is where pragmatism and practicality comes to the fore. Previously accepted practices and platforms may not be as fixed as might first appear. There are a variety of technical solutions available to improving development, testing and efficiency of collaboration for mainframe teams. They can realistically achieve far greater frequency and reach a wider variety of users by exploiting new technical solutions. (One example is Micro Focus’ solution, here).

DevOps bandwidth

Conclusion

Larger organizations have every opportunity to embrace DevOps by taking the cultural aspect of change as seriously as the underlying technical and operational approach they are aiming to use. Practical and pragmatic solutions exist to overcome fundamental operational roadblocks; a comprehensive and transparent cultural change program will also be needed to promote widespread adoption. As a recent ComputerWorld headline put it “Culture is Key to DevOps Success”.

Find Micro Focus at booth #525 at SHARE or visit our dedicated DevOps resources if you can’t attend the event in person.

Brand new year – same old problems?

For technology trend-watchers, the New Year has begun in much the same way old one ended.

As the reports of Black Friday and Cyber Monday-prompted site crashes tail off, predictions about upcoming technology trends kick in, and early 2016 looks much like late 2015. So will last year’s failures help us meet new challenges? Let’s take a look…

Peering into my crystal ball, I see virtual reality headsets, Artificial Intelligence, and driverless vehicles leading the charge of new technology into the commercial stream. The headsets are already on Amazon.

Back in the real world, CIOs are pushing ‘must refine digital strategies’ further up the agenda. It’s a long to-do list. Cloud, big data – and the analytics needed to extract anything useful from it – the ‘move to mobile’, online security, virtualisation, hybrid architectures, containers are just seven.

Other organisations will be trying to adapt to new methodologies, such as Agile and DevOps. Meanwhile, everyone wants to be the first to market with their innovations in digital services, even while cutting costs.

Cutting through the hype, three key organisational goals will remain:

  • Maintaining and protecting brand quality
  • Accelerating time to market, either proactively or reactively
  • Improving the user experience – and creating happy customers

Market movers and shakers

Some start-ups will fly – others will stall – while challenger banks continue to invade the finance space. Retailers will focus more on digital channels, next-gen consoles and virtual reality will fuel the gaming explosion. This means five things for CIOs:

  • The nature and ease of access to this technology will take us places we have never been before – and be even more disruptive than ever.
  • Organisations not keeping up with market trends risk being left behind
  • Bringing unreliable products or services to market risks damaging brand reputation
  • Teams must deliver what the business needs, faster than ever
  • Focusing on delivering what the customer demands and not what the IT departments think the customer wants is key

So how can organisations deal with this three-pronged attack? Using better tools to work smarter will certainly help.

Under attack? Get tooled up

Micro Focus solutions can help fix these issues by enabling them to embrace DevOps, boost business agility and reduce time to market. Any one of these elements protects brand reputation. All of them together will certainly enhance it.

Atlas is an Agile requirements solution. It unites technical and operations teams with business analysts on a platform that captures market trends and innovative stakeholder ideas. This joined-up working means organisations can quickly realise the impact of changes on the product in development, enabling Agile teams to get the right product to the business quicker than ever.

Silk is a platform-neutral automated testing suite that tests application functionality, responsiveness, user experience and performance. Whether deploying on multiple mobile devices and browsers, in the Cloud or on desktops, Silk enables test runs to be managed automatically. With full visibility across the testing and development lifecycle, errors are reduced and teams test earlier in the lifecycle and embrace the DevOps ethos.

So, if this is the year that your organisation gets on the front foot and stays ahead of the curve then give your teams the means to be strategic and not reactive. If this is to be the age of AI and next-gen tech, selling products that drives customers to throw themselves in front of the nearest driverless vehicle seems like last year’s thinking.

Whether this is to be a happy New Year or twelve months of challenges is entirely in your hands.

Crawford