Compuware is extending its ongoing campaign to bring DevOps processes to the mainframe by acquiring XaTester, a provider of tools for creating unit tests for both batch and CICS-based programs written in COBOL, PL/I and Assembler.
In addition, Compuware announced it has formed an alliance with Parasoft, a provider of tools for testing application programming interface (API) calls between mainframe and non-mainframe systems.
Finally, Compuware revealed it has added support for automated unit testing for the IBM Management System (IMS), a hierarchical database that is used to run both transaction and batch-oriented applications.
Those latest editions come on the heels of an update to the Topaz for Total Test platform that, among other things, make it easier to extract data from mainframe applications.
Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley said all these new capabilities will expand the reach and scope of Topaz for Total Test platform that makes it possible to apply DevOps practices to both new and legacy applications being developed and deployed on IBM mainframe platforms.
Despite being more than five decades old, O’Malley noted that mainframes are still widely employed to process both transaction and batch-oriented applications at a level of scale other platforms still can’t match. The challenge now is to integrate the wealth of applications running on IBM mainframes within the context of a modern application development process, he said. That requires putting new application development and deployment tools in place that are optimized for DevOps versus traditional waterfall approaches still widely used in mainframe environments.
CICS and IMS applications are at the heart of some of the fastest transaction processing applications running in the enterprise. Rather than rewrite those applications, O’Malley said organizations that have invested in mainframes want to be able to expose those applications as a service using APIs. Testing those integrations requires mainframe teams to adopt frameworks that enable them to become more agile, he noted—for example, organizations integrating applications need to be able to easily engage in A/B testing to be able optimize performance.
As the lines between mainframes and distributed computing systems continues to blur, most organizations are working toward having one team support both platforms. As part of that effort organizations are introducing DevOps practices that have proven themselves on distributed computing platforms to mainframes. That approach helps mitigate a mainframe skills shortage that is occurring as more IT professionals with mainframe skills leave the workforce.
It may take a little extra effort to get IT staffs managing mainframes to part ways with legacy approaches to building and deploying applications that have clearly stood the test of time. But as more organizations embrace digital process transformation the rate of change in mainframe environments clearly need to accelerate, O’Malley said.
In fact, IT professionals with mainframe skills that are also literate when it comes to DevOps just might find themselves among the most sought-after people in enterprise IT. After all, the number of IT professionals that can play both side of the mainframe and distributed systems ball are very few indeed.