IBM has added an automated testing tool to the portfolio of DevOps tools it has developed for mainframes.
Sanjay Chandru, director of Z DevOps for IBM, said IBM Z Open Unit Test adds a continuous testing capability to the continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platform based on an instance of an open source Git repository developed by Rocket Software that IBM launched last year. The automated unit testing tool automatically records and plays back test data for both batch-oriented applications written in COBOL or PL/I and CICS transaction processing applications.
Chandru said IBM Z Open Unit Test is unique in that it eliminates the need to employ traditional debugging tools. Developers can generate test cases for COBOL CICS programs, as well as “stub out” CICS to achieving environment independence from CICS runtime during test case execution. A stub is an object that holds predetermined data, which is provided in response to calls made during tests. That approach eliminates the need to have objects that answer with real data. That means Z Open Unit Test operates without adding the overhead of a debugging tool, said Chandru.
Any test case and the resulting program created then can be stored in any source code management (SCM) system.
IBM is making a concerted effort to make mainframe a natural deployment target for any DevOps team, said Chandru. It increasingly has become apparent that millennials in particular aren’t biased toward one platform or another, as long as each platform is equally accessible, he noted, adding that as organizations embrace best DevOps practices to modernize their application portfolio, IBM wants to make sure the mainframe remains relevant.
IBM launched the z14 mainframe in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to the company, 92 of the world’s 100 biggest banks use its mainframes, which handle most global credit card transactions alongside billions of ATM transactions and annual passenger flight bookings. While use of mainframes overall isn’t growing, the platform isn’t going away anytime soon.
IBM has also enhanced the cryptographic capabilities of the z14 to make it one of the most secure platforms available and continues to invest in an instance of Linux for the mainframe. That latter capability makes the mainframe a more natural target for applications being developed and deployed using DevOps processes, said Chandru.
Of course, the biggest challenge when it comes to DevOps and mainframes is not necessarily the technology. Most mainframe applications have been developed using waterfall processes for decades. Getting those teams to embrace DevOps processes represents a significant cultural hurdle for any IT organization.
At the same time, however, DevOps teams who ignore mainframes are not taking advantage of an existing platform investment that has performance and security capabilities that are still unmatched after more than five decades. The real challenge is finding a way for old mainframe dogs to learn some new DevOps tricks while exposing proverbial whippersnappers to the capabilities of the most powerful mainstream platform ever built.