A Playbook for Modernizing the Mainframe, Part 5
In my last blog from the playbook Modernizing Development on Mainframe, I described the key criteria for businesses to hire and retain the best development talent, and the mindset needed to support these developers towards a successful modernization effort. Businesses who succeed allow their developers to use their preferred, best-in-class tools, and moreover, empower them to treat the mainframe as any other platform without having to learn its specificities. In this part, I’ll discuss how to extend that mentality to another key persona, DevOps architects, and how application delivery pipelines must be rearchitected so that mainframe development is not perceived as a bottleneck to Digital Transformation.
Building a robust pipeline for Digital Transformation is quite the challenge. For one, DevOps architects must contend with the technical complexity of precisely orchestrating activities across platforms for effective multi-modal development, test and delivery. More critically, pipeline activities must be managed against an array of seemingly conflicting agendas from organizational groups undergoing their own internal transformation towards agile development and greater business agility. Simply building a pipeline that can functionally orchestrate across platforms is only table stakes. Businesses differentiated by effective Digital Transformation use it to also accomplish their strategic goals of mitigating risk, amplifying performance of teams in development, test, operations and security, and managing against increasing cost pressures.
The answer starts with choice
To be clear, empowering development teams with the flexibility to choose best-in-class tools is still important, especially as new-to-mainframe developers seek to quickly hit their peak performance and take on mainframe tasks that are increasingly backlog priorities. Enabling choice is also essential for the welfare of DevOps architects. With Project Brightside, a DevOps architect is empowered to:
- Enable continuous integration for a cross-platform application that may include amongst other things, distributed code managed by Git, transaction code managed by CA Endevor® Software Change Manager, and DB2 statements in z/OS datasets.
- Leverage versatile build automation tools like Gradle and Gulp.
- Embed Mainframe automation scripts into popular continuous delivery software, including open source tools such as Jenkins and Travis.
Choose your own adventure
I can always recall the awe I felt when I laid eyes on my first iPhone. With an easy-to-use touchscreen that seamlessly carried my commands and access to my favorite applications, the iPhone was not just another mobile phone, but a tool that helped redefine a much-improved day-to-day life. More than the rave reviews from experts and the overwhelming public buzz, that personal transformative experience validated a strategy built on creating differentiated user experiences.
Project BrightSide aims to deliver that same transformation, and we recognize the experience will likely feel different for every customer. To that end, we’ve architected a generic and extensible platform that facilitates access to the Mainframe through an open API enablement strategy – one that will:
- Enable our teams to build cross-product and cross-system solutions, as well as
- Empower the user community to build their own custom automation and applications to match their specific needs.
For example, many customers I’ve spoken with retain certain home-grown applications despite the availability of industry-standard substitutes because these applications more effectively conform to their user-experience principles and thus enjoy widespread adoption within the organization. With Project Brightside, such home-grown applications can continue to play a central role in Digital Transformation. Businesses simply leverage our open APIs to enable these applications to integrate mainframe information just as seamlessly as their industry-standard counterparts that are purpose-built to do so.
It’s mainframe, but not mainframe
User experience is key, and for DevOps architects, this is not only about flexibility in tooling, but also the UI by which mainframe touchpoints are configured. Project BrightSide simplifies these interactions through an abstracted Linux-style Command Line Interface, or CLI, removing the need to learn traditional UIs like TSO/ISPF.
Mainframe solutions like CA File Master™ Plus play a critical role, facilitating commands like this one for test data population:
bright zos-files create vsam-from-model <source file> <new file> –override-volser -override-size
From there, commands are executed using common scripting languages like Python. Here is a simple example of using the above command in a Python script to populate a test environment with test data from a model:
Altogether, the Project BrightSide CLI makes it easy to script and automate complex actions on the mainframe. With the flexibility to choose their preferred solutions and an easy-to-use UI for configuring mainframe interactions, DevOps architects are empowered to easily build a DevOps toolchain that effectively drives cross-platform Digital Transformation. I encourage you to check out our sneak preview of Project BrightSide, and feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more about the Project BrightSide customer validation program.