How do you bring DevOps to mainframes? Eliminate the need for developers and admins to have mainframe expertise. That’s the strategy mainframe specialist Compuware is following as it seeks to break into the DevOps market.
On Dec. 6, Compuware announced its acquisition of Standardware Inc., adding Standardware’s COPE IMS virtualization software to Compuware’s portfolio.
That’s important because the IMS virtualization product helps to speed the development of database and transaction-management software that is used widely on mainframes in industries such as banking and commercial aviation. It does so by allowing developers to create virtual mainframe development environments, instead of relying on actual hardware—which is more costly and more difficult to provision.
“The result is greater digital agility across all tiers of the enterprise architecture, from front-end systems of engagement to back-end systems of record,” according to Compuware.
Bridging the DevOps-Mainframe Divide
But Compuware’s acquistion of Standardware is not just about bringing a new virtualization technology to mainframe developers. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for software engineers who don’t have backgrounds in mainframe systems to write code that can run on them.
“Successful transition of mainframe stewardship from retiring Baby Boomer specialists to less specifically mainframe-experienced Millennials” will be key to enabling agile, DevOps-based application development and deployment techniques for the mainframe, according to Compuware.
For the declining number of software engineers out there who are mainframe experts, the push to remove special knowledge requirements from the mainframe development scene will not bode well. For the DevOps world as a whole, however, Compuware’s strategy for keeping mainframes relevant in the DevOps sounds a lot like the “serverless” computing movement. The goal of serverless computing is to allow developers to write code without having to think about the hardware it will be deployed on.
Making mainframes totally serverless probably is not a realistic goal. Mainframe development languages and frameworks are so different from those of commodity hardware that mainframe software will never be quite the same as code written for other servers. Still, software such as IMS virtualization can help to make mainframes feel less like mainframes for the developers working with them—and that will be essential for making sure that mainframes are not left out of the DevOps revolution.