As more and more businesses embark on enterprise initiatives to adopt agile and DevOps practices many seem to struggle with identifying a starting point, particularly with the mainframe teams. Steeped in decades worth of process refinement, it can be difficult to approach highly effective teams responsible for the mainframe components of critical business applications with any cost-savings measure that has not been discussed, investigated, considered and implemented. Talk about agile, and they may feel the incremental approach is non-applicable to mainframe due to the monolithic characteristics of traditional COBOL applications. Mention DevOps and the CA Endevor® Software Change Manager administrators may argue, the process is already in place.
An acronym for ENvironment for DEVelopment and OpeRations , CA Endevor SCM was designed more than 30 years ago with groundbreaking parameterized scripting for continuous integration and deploy for mainframe-centric applications. Here’s the interesting challenge we hear repeatedly from our customers – introducing revenue-generating products tends to be a factor of how long it takes mainframe teams to deliver the interrelated mainframe components. But they’re not sure why and they’re not sure what to do about it.
Let’s break down the why – it will help us to understand the what.
Mainframe Delivery is was Optimized
For years, organizations were focused on stability on the OPS (operational release into production) side of DevOps while governance around the DEV (developing, building, deploying, testing), were so process-laden, they almost purposely slowed the release as if time-spent-in-the-life-cycle meant a risk-free journey into production. Here’s the reason for the reluctance to change – this process works and has been repeatedly optimized.
Problem is, even the most efficient mainframe delivery process is too slow. Mobile, Cloud, and Distributed assets associated with critical business applications back-ended by the mainframe can deliver three to five times faster. And while this may have been acceptable, even desirable in the past, business growth relies so heavily on apps that differentiate, time-to-market has become THE metric that must be cracked. Fast, reliable delivery is highly desirable. If traditional tried-and-true mainframe delivery processes are already optimized, the only choice is change.
Here’s where agile practices and delivery-focused DevOps tools can be your change agents. Stay with me.
Transitioning to Agile Matters
Once mainframe teams understand the importance of – and start thinking in terms of iterative, focused, incremental development, the concept of delivering faster, and in a continuous manner starts to take shape as something that can be achieved. Once beyond the cultural shift away from
big releases and waterfall approaches, adapting mainframe processes becomes a matter of using mobile, cloud, and distributed delivery practices as a guide for drastic reform.
Yes, that means hands-free, scripting and automating at every stage in the life cycle. CA Brightside with its mainframe command-line interface and scripting capabilities can be transformational in facilitating the adaptation of mainframe into a continuous delivery pipeline. However, visualizing, managing and orchestrating all the contributing assets for an application release can quickly become overly complex for platform-centric application teams and release managers.
No doubt, this means inserting manual steps and checkpoints to ensure changes are synchronized, teams are notified, and no steps get missed. New mobile apps may fail if the DB2 database table changes and associated DB2 binds for back-end COBOL programs have not been completed. Websites may incur outages if CICS regions have not been refreshed with newly modified COBOL transactions. And each mainframe team typically has their own approach – all buried in standards manuals, emails, and change review board spreadsheets. Yikes. It’s no wonder teams are reluctant to let go of a tried-and-true process that works.
Building Confidence with Visibility and Repetition
CA Continuous Delivery Automation takes existing processes and translates them into visual, reusable workflows built by dragging, dropping and sequencing activities from a catalog of actions. These workflows incorporate interdependencies and sub-workflows where necessary, gathering all the application assets from the contributing platforms together, delivering them to predetermined destinations throughout the life cycle.
Need to coordinate a series of tests across multiple teams once the code leaves developers? It can be incorporated. Need to ensure all the parts and pieces of a mobile-to-mainframe application are included in the deploy? Need authorization to proceed? They can be incorporated too. All through a single-touch, security compliant deploy function architected as a repeatable workflow.
Visible, understandable and easily adjustable to suit every team contributing to the release. Automation increases the speed, process repetition at each stage of the life cycle builds confidence, ultimately reducing the risk of error at production install.
CA Continuous Delivery for IBM z Systems® extends these capabilities to mainframe by adding both native system Z and CA Endevor SCM actions to the actions catalog. This means you can easily add activities such as Package Approvals and Package Executions into your automated process. Need to execute a series of CA Endevor SCM Packages containing COBOL program changes prior to refreshing a CICS region or updating a website? No problem. Need to coordinate CA Endevor SCM mainframe deploys with DB2 table changes? Simply drag and drop it into your flow.
Having the ability to incorporate tried-and-true CA Endevor SCM deploy into visually-rich delivery workflows makes adaptation to automation straightforward. And, here’s where flexibility comes in – the solutions are designed to fit your DevOps journey. Mainframe teams can leverage the CA Continuous Delivery for IBM z Systems capabilities regardless of how mobile, cloud and distributed teams decide to manage their process.
Pairing it with CA Endevor SCM can really help jump-start agile and DevOps transformations. Here’s how
- You can incorporate existing CA Endevor SCM deployment activities (Package Approvals, Executions, Backouts) and augment the automation with CA Brightside CLI / scripted tasks (backup files, rename files, refresh CICS regions or stored procedures) into your workflow to start automating manual steps right away
- Complex multi-team, cross-application, cross-platform composite release deployment plans currently divided in to “threads” can merge into a single deployment plan
- Release teams have access to visual dashboards to easily track the CA Endevor SCM process in the context of related asset deployments (file, middleware, server) to quickly understand what’s happing now, what’s causing a delay, what was successful and what’s gone wrong
- Visibility, analytics, and transparency of the comprehensive landscape of delivery and the associated agile stories can help to quickly pinpoint inefficiencies, allowing focused improvement efforts
- Mature, tried-and-true SCM best practices can be extended to include continuous delivery best practices
- Straight-forward, repeatable workflow capabilities help transition Release managers from mainframe-centric to enterprise-capable
Mainframe Delivery Transformed
Improving the speed of delivering mainframe assets is possible and it doesn’t mean starting from scratch. As teams embrace and adopt agile practices, iterative development encourages incremental delivery. Lean on and leverage your CA Endevor SCM investment. Start now with these three steps:
- Watch this 3-minute CA Technologies end-to-end mainframe DevOps solution video
- Review the release notes and see what’s new with CA Endevor SCM
- Download the free CA Brightside Community Edition and begin scripting mainframe tasks
The ability to normalize and automate processes regardless of platform blended with capabilities to manage, track, collaborate, evaluate, audit, and analyze mobile-to-mainframe software deliveries, facilitates a transformational impact. Change control boards can become release architects. Mainframe-centric release managers can manage enterprise applications. Operations staff can focus on minimizing outages and optimizing performance. Developers can focus on coding. Most importantly, critical business decisions can be based on comprehensive software release insights that directly correlate back to the agile stories capturing the original ideas funded to achieve that differentiating business outcome.
Interested in learning more? Consider reviewing these assets and videos:
- Continuous Delivery for the mainframe
- CA Continuous Delivery Automation
- CA Brightside – Mainframe Interaction Framework
Share your mainframe delivery transformation journey with me! Find me on LinkedIn, Twitter @RASakach or contact me directly Rose.Sakach@ca.com