solutions to mainframe devops challenges | anchors aweigh
July 10, 2018 DevOps 0 Comments

Top Five Solutions to Mainframe DevOps Challenges: Anchors Aweigh

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Our previous two posts of this series covered the top five drivers of organizations’ mainframe DevOps initiatives and the top five challenges they face with mainframe DevOps.

This was based on our recent webcast, “Top Five Mainframe DevOps Drivers, Challenges and Solutions,” where we delved into important feedback that attendees of our IBM zTech University – London DevOps session were kind enough to share with us on this topic. Watch the webcast to learn about the top five mainframe DevOps drivers, challenges and solutions.

In our final post of this series, we’ll cover the top five solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges based on that helpful feedback, so you can use it to solve challenges in your own DevOps transformation. What does it take to pull up the anchors weighing down your mainframe’s DevOps transformation?

1. A Mindset Change to Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and Iterative Delivery

The MVP mindset revolves around delivering high-value innovation in small batches to the business faster. For a long time, business accepted the only way to deliver value was through large projects that could take years to complete. However, this mindset led to catastrophic project failures due to overrun budgets, resource changes and missed delivery dates.

Requirements can easily change over time, which is the bane of large, years-long projects. Releasing MVPs allows you to deliver value to the business in smaller chunks, and they create opportunity to pivot and make changes based on requirements from customers or in reaction to competition. Adopting an MVP mindset is one of the greatest solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges because you can realize massive cost efficiencies, mitigate risk and greatly increase value to the business.

2. Knowledge of What Is Possible

Your organization is unique, but there’s nothing wrong with looking at other organizations to see how they’re adapting and evolving their processes and what solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges they’re finding useful. You can best learn how to implement DevOps from those already doing it—the distributed people in your organization who have been using DevOps practices for a long time.

It would also be helpful to observe your software vendors, most of which are claiming they practice Agile and DevOps today, to see if they are truly putting DevOps into practice, and if they are, how they’re doing it. Even better, ask them to connect you with their customer references who are also practicing DevOps. This proves vendor credentials and gives you the ability to make your own knowledge-based decisions around DevOps.

It’s worth noting many GSIs like Wipro and TCS are also doing a great job leveraging their own DevOps best practices and Centers of Excellence to help organizations transform their mainframe environments.

3. Joined Thinking and Integrated Tooling

For mainframe DevOps to work, you don’t just need your Dev and Ops teams to come together, you need to form cross-functional teams including developers, testers, dba’s, CICS systems programmers, batch automation specialists, etc. The more the people in these roles who get together, the deeper their collaboration will become through mutual understanding and respect for each other.

Giving these teams common, integrated tools through a cross-platform DevOps toolchain will help ensure the collaboration between unique roles with their own sets of skills and knowledge. Moving forward, as these relationships form, they will continuously oil the wheels of innovation with increased quality, velocity and efficiency.

This is vital to growing a culture of teamwork, commitment and accountability. This culture can’t be forced, it has to be natural. Bringing teams together and getting them on the same page with modern tools are both great solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges because they facilitate that natural cultural shift.

4. Having a Visionary on the Shop Floor

You need clear vision and direction from leadership, but you also need visionaries where the technical work is happening. Passionate explorers who want to develop new ways of working and who can grasp the art of mainframe agility will drive innovation because they aren’t afraid to challenge existing notions, including their own.

These visionaries make efforts to bring new capabilities to themselves and to their teams. Leaders must let these people flourish to really find solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges.

5. Clear Vision from Leadership

How leaders think can dictate how far mainframe DevOps gets and whether you find good solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges. Leaders must be capable of directing, supporting and funding transformation.

Those who aren’t in management can help, too, though. Leaders should be seen as people you can share ideas with. It’s their job to challenge new ideas, but good leaders also understand they need education, often from those they lead. Therefore, question leaders on what they’re trying to do so they can learn what’s required to drive solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges and take the transformation forward.

Conferences like the DevOps Enterprise Summit are must-attend events for leaders who seek solutions to mainframe DevOps challenges. At these events, they can meet peers on the same journey and exchange ideas they can bring back to the lab to implement.

Recap: Mainframe DevOps Drivers, Challenges and Solutions

We learned a great deal about mainframe DevOps drivers, challenges and solutions from those who attended our DevOps session at IBM zTech University – London. We hope the distilled version of that feedback, as presented in our webcast and this series, remains useful to you as you embark on or continue through your DevOps journey.

Ultimately, whatever is driving your DevOps implementation, the scope of that initiative should include your mainframe. If it doesn’t, the challenges you experience could end up being enough to sabotage your DevOps journey. Still, you will face mainframe DevOps challenges; but these can be overcome with the right solutions.

For a closer look at how you can improve your mainframe DevOps journey, read our eBook, “How to Ditch Waterfall for DevOps on the Mainframe.”

Read the eBook

Check out the other blog posts in this series:

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Atul Bhovan and Alan Johns

Atul Bhovan and Alan Johns are both Compuware solution consultants in the UK.
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