Shifting from monolithic application development
Businesses need agility to deliver better services, meet changing requirements, and seize new opportunities as they arise. At the heart of many efforts are applications based on modern development strategies and techniques. Specifically, many businesses are moving away from monolithic applications of the past that are hard to modify and take a long time to bring to market.
Why the shift and why now? Over 80% of organizations expect to compete mainly based on customer experience (CX). As a result, businesses in the most competitive markets like retail, banking, insurance, financial services, and travel/hospitality cannot afford to wait months or years to release new services, applications, or features.
The bottom line is that software development teams are under pressure to deliver more of everything (new applications, enhanced features, more access options) in shorter time frames. A widely cited past industry study put the issues into perspective. Leading companies routinely perform multiple deployments daily. By comparison, low performers reported deploying only once a month at best. (At the extreme end of the spectrum, companies like Amazon and Google do deployments thousands of times a day.)
Monolithic application development does not work in this fast-paced environment. A simple change in an existing application, such as incorporating a new dataset, adding new features in a front-end app, or using a different analytics method, requires that the entire application be revised, retested, and redeployed. That all takes time. Lots of time.
A better approach is to use modern applications development methodologies. In particular, there is a shift underway to using cloud-native architectures based on loosely connected microservices and elements.
A cloud-native approach is particularly well-suited for modern applications for several reasons. For example, a cloud-native approach helps organizations address the customer experience drivers that require constant updates and new services. Each component of a cloud-native application can be deployed and maintained as a self-contained microservice. If any element of a broad application needs to be updated or changed, only that element needs to be touched. The rest of the conglomerate application remains the same.
z/OS plays well with cloud-native
Many industries under the greatest pressure to speed development and deliver ever-more customized, personalized customer experiences use z/OS systems. As noted, these are retail, banking, insurance, financial services, and travel/hospitality. Government also can be added to the list. It is a large user of z/OS systems and is constantly trying to improve access to its services via new or improved web, mobile, chat, social, and phone applications.
There are two ways to enhance and develop applications for these systems that use modern development methods. One is to make data, applications, and services that run on z/OS systems available as APIs and as microservices to be used by larger cloud-native applications.
The other method that is gaining more favor is to provide the modern development tools for the z/OS systems themselves. Specifically, modern application development approaches that move away from monolithic architectures need certain essential elements. Many rely on open-source development techniques, workflow automation, and continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools.
Bringing such commonly used tools to the z/OS environment helps businesses speed the development of new applications to meet changing demands of their customers. It allows a business to leverage the data and applications on its z/OS systems and create innovative new applications.
In an age when it is getting harder to find developers with expertise in native z/OS programming, bringing familiar DevOps tools to the z/OS environment offers several benefits. Those who have the native z/OS skills can focus on core applications and leave the tasks like supporting a new front end or enhancing a web interface to others. After all, there are many more developers available with modern development skills.
Bringing the DevOps tools into the z/OS environment also lets businesses retain all the pluses of those systems. Namely, businesses are assured that the same reliability, superior performance, tightly controlled security, and massive scalability are retained and can be leveraged with integrated with a broader cloud-native application.