Five Things You Can Do to Help Modernize Mainframe Systems Delivery
With 64 percent of mainframe-equipped organizations claiming more than half their mission-critical workloads will run on that platform by 2019, the mainframe’s mandatory role in digital progress is clear—less so is how to get the platform to be as mainstream as the engagement technologies it supports.
That’s why, instead of listening to age-old platitudes that call the mainframe inflexible and incapable of delivering with velocity, organizations should be focused on how they can take the right steps to modernize mainframe systems delivery. We’ve laid out five actions you can take—and five you shouldn’t—in a new eBook, “The Five Do’s and Don’ts of Mainframe Modernization.”
Here, we’ll give you an overview of the five “do’s” you can start following as you modernize your mainframe culture, processes and tools to break down silos, promote collaboration and accelerate application development and delivery.
1. Establish a Plan for Change and Measuring Progress
Mainframe teams are notoriously averse to change, and for many, any changes they do embrace they mistakenly believe can occur within a silo, without impacting others or requiring their input. This mindset forms the foundation for why many mainframe teams assume mainframe agility is something they can’t evolve towards. It’s also why they ignore the power of new tools they assume won’t make a difference.
To fix this, DevOps leaders should establish a plan for change and measuring progress. That means:
- Conveying reasons for change and the company vision
- Setting realistic expectations for the team
- Providing proper training to the team
- Instituting milestones to accelerate adoption
2. Form Cross-platform Partnerships
As mainframe teams work to modernize mainframe systems delivery through deeper collaboration with non-mainframe teams and through increasing integrations across the DevOps toolchain, they should be aware of what tools and processes others are using. This reduces the risk of using a redundant toolset and ensures processes align across platforms to enable orchestration.
Partnerships should be formed across mainframe and non-mainframe teams to ensure a clear toolchain vision and zero tooling redundancy. This can be done best by appointing DevOps leadership across platforms and creating a DevOps committee with both distributed and mainframe people involved.
3. Utilize New Technologies for Application Understanding
Stemming from a fear of change, many mainframe teams capitulate to legacy design myths and believe their code can’t be agile. They and their organizations think moving faster would require re-writing complex programs. This, of course, is because Waterfall-based mainframe programs are immense, complex and poorly documented.
The reality is mainframe teams can move faster and organizations should never waste time or money re-writing mission-critical programs—projects that, in most cases, completely fail.
To help modernize mainframe systems delivery, mainframe teams should utilize new technologies for improved application understanding, increase agility and make it easier to incorporate that code into their organization’s cross-platform DevOps strategy.
4. Implement Real, Automated Unit Testing
Earlier, more frequent testing and increased automation are key to modernizing mainframe systems delivery. At the base of that is unit testing. Mainframe teams still do this manually—if they do it at all—and the process is so tedious, developers often forgo it to focus on other development tasks they have to worry about completing on time.
What’s more, the historical solutions mainframe teams do use when they unit test fall outside the Continuous Integration process and aren’t DevOps-friendly. Unfortunately, many teams assume these are the only solutions they have—they aren’t.
Mainframe teams must implement real, automated unit testing. This will allow them to create reusable test assets that can be incorporated into the daily Continuous Integration process. Doing so will enable developers to find bugs earlier in the unit testing phase, ensuring smoother testing of applications after shipping them over to test/QA teams and avoiding bugs that are costlier if found later in the testing cycle.
5. Fix Your Source Code Management Constraint
Too many mainframe shops have fallen victim to the “Sunk Cost Fallacy.” This is the idea that you have put so much time and money into getting an inadequate solution to be good enough migrating off that solution would be throwing away years of investment.
The reality is, staying on a source code management tool that runs outside a DevOps toolchain and fails to help developers understand code-change impacts will have greater consequences than leaving behind years of time and money that are already gone. Rather, mainframe teams should mimic distributed source code management practices and adopt an Agile-based solution that:
- Integrates into their cross-platform DevOps toolchain
- Allows for more frequent, orchestrated cross-platform deployments
- Helps developers understand potential impacts of changes
These five “Do’s” from our eBook won’t help you solve every problem in your mission to modernize mainframe systems delivery, but they will help you move closer to your desired end state of a mainstreamed mainframe incorporated into the same Agile and DevOps processes your systems of engagement teams use.
To learn more about what you should and shouldn’t do when working to modernize mainframe systems delivery, download “The Five Do’s and Don’ts of Mainframe Modernization.”
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