By Sreenivasan Rajagopal, Senior Director of Product Strategy, CA Technologies
What comes to mind when you think about developing on OpenStack? Convenience? Instant provisioning? Turning services on and off as developers need them? I doubt you’d use the same terms to the mainframe. But wouldn’t it be great if your mainframe team offered the same agility that you get from cloud?
Open to opportunities
As organizations push forward with digital transformation, cloud operating systems like OpenStack are increasingly popular. OpenStack makes it especially easy to control large pools of compute, storage and networking resources. Everything is managed via a dashboard that keeps administrators in control while enabling users to spin up resources through a web interface. Major reasons for OpenStack’s popularity include:
- Operational efficiency: by making it straightforward to pool multiple cloud resources, administrators can provision development environments almost instantly, which helps to boost agility, accelerate innovation and speed time to market
- Scalability: it’s easy to spin up more instances to serve more users as demand increases
- Driving digital transformation: an OpenStack survey confirmed that software development is the most popular workload to run on OpenStack, and is seen as indispensable in enabling DevOps.
Focus on results
In the minds of many application development team leaders, they’re less interested about debating with Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) teams about which platform they should use – distributed, cloud or mainframe. Their only real concern is whether a platform meets these essential criteria:
- Does it enable developers to work at the speed the business demands?
- Does it support the business’s development processes?
- Can it be used throughout the enterprise?
- Can developers make changes quickly?
And for many application development leaders, services like AWS offer enterprise developers the efficiency and scalability they need. I saw an example recently where a system programmer provided an application developer with a mainframe development environment – just as if it was cloud. It took just seconds, and the whole process was almost entirely automated.
Change your mindset
I don’t believe this is solely a question of technology choices. To me, there’s a need for some in the I&O community to shift their thinking too, to “shift left”. In Forrester’s words,
“The world needs engineers, not administrators. Administrators babysit. Engineers build. Guided by systems thinking, I&O professionals must abandon established narrow technical disciplines and move toward holistic systems delivery.” 
So will the mainframe be left behind by cloud-like development environments and tools? No. At CA, we’re actively working on making nearly ‘zero touch’ and ‘zero cost’ development environments on the mainframe more easily and rapidly accessible. Watch this space!
 OpenStack, “OpenStack User Survey: A snapshot of OpenStack users’ attitudes and deployments”, April 2016
 How A Sysadmin Becomes A Developer, Forrester, 2017