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The DevOps movement in general, tends to exclude any technologies that are outliers to the do-it-yourself spirit of DevOps. This is due to the nature of how certain technologies are closed to developer-driven improvements, or roles are irreversibly inaccessible to outsiders.

That’s not the case in the mainframe. The mainframe is armed with countless development tools and programmable resources that rarely failed to enable Dev to Ops processes.

Then why DevOps practices have not prospered in the mainframe?

  • Ops are already masters of any productive or pre-productive environments – so changing the way developer teams interact with those environments require more politics than technology and are vetted by security practices already in place.
  • New tools don’t target the mainframe – the market and open source communities have focused first on servicing Linux, Windows, mobile and cloud environments.
  • Resistance to change – even if there were new tools and devs could improve processes themselves, management feels that trying out new approaches, especially those that go “outside the box”, could end up putting these environments, and mission-critical releases at risk.

Organizations want to profit from DevOps initiatives that are improving the speed and quality of application delivery in the enterprise at a vertiginous pace. But how can they leverage processes that are already in place with the faster and combined pipelines setup in the open side of the house?

Enter Clarive for z/OS

Our clients have been introducing DevOps practices to the mainframe for many years now. This has been made possible thanks to the well-known benefits of accepting and promoting the bimodal enterprise.

There are two approaches that can be used simultaneously in accomplishing:

  • Orchestrate mainframe tools and processes already in place – driving and being driven by the organization’s delivery pipeline
  • Launch modernization initiatives that change the way Dev and Ops deliver changes in the mainframe

Business Benefits bringing DevOps to the Mainframe

The benefit is simple. Code that runs in the mainframe is expensive and obscure. By unearthing practices and activities, organizations gain valuable insight that can help transform the z/OS-dependent footprint into a more contained and flexible part of the pipeline with these key benefits:

Coordinate and Speed-up Application Delivery

Mainframe systems don’t run in isolation. The data it manages and the logic it implements are shared as a single entity throughout the enterprise by applications in the open, cloud and even mobile part of the organization. Making changes that disrupt different parts of this delicate but business-critical organism needs to be coordinated at many phases, from testing to UATs to production delivery. Delivering change as a single transactional pipeline has to be a coordinated effort both forward and backwards.

End-to-End Visibility

DevOps practices perceive the mainframe as a closed box that does not play well with activities that target better visibility and end-to-end transparency. Having dashboards and reports that can work as input and output from the mainframe release processes into other pipelines will help deliver change.

Run a Leaner Operation and Avoid Waste

Creating mainframe processes that are part of the bigger picture help determine where constraints may lay and what parts of the pipeline may be deemed obsolete or become bottlenecks.

Lower Release Costs

Mainframe tools are expensive and difficult to manage. MIPS and processing in the mainframe may be capped and new processes could create unwanted expenses. Relying more on tools that drive the mainframe from Linux may in return translate into significant per release cost savings, encouraging a more continuous release process.

Use Cases

The following is a list of the most relevant benefits of Clarive z/OS and popular use cases that our clients have implemented using the Clarive z/OS platform and tools:

  • Compile and link programs using JCL preprocessed templates. Deploy DB2 items directly to the database.
  • Compile related COBOL programs when Copybooks change
  • Total control what is deployed to each environment at a given time
  • Schedule jobs according to individualized release and availability calendars and windows
  • Request approval for critical deployment windows or sensitive applications or items
  • Keep the lifecycle in sync with external project and issue management applications
  • Run SQA on the changes promoted. Block deployment if a minimum score has not been reached
  • Reliably rollback changes in Production, replacing previous PDS libraries with the correct ones
  • Provision CICS resources on request by users

Stay tunned for more of these DevOps for mainframe blog series!


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