How to Transform the Mainframe UX for Effective Cross-Platform DevOps
November 08, 2017

Jean Louis Vignaud
CA Technologies

Mainframes may be legacy, but they still run a lot of business. In fact, they store 80 percent of the world's transactional data, are run at 92 of the top 100 banks and 23 of the 25 largest airlines (Spark and machine learning on z Systems by Barry Baker @ IBM). It's estimated that there are 1.3 million CICS transactions processed per second and 220 billion lines of code in COBOL.

With so much in play, businesses run a great risk when practices for maintaining and developing on mainframe remain largely the same despite the rest of the organization undergoing significant change to keep pace with the latest DevOps trends. When developers versed in COBOL and Java, Database Administrators versed in DB2, and System Programmers versed in Mainframe are then found integrated into cross-platform hybrid teams, a divide in culture and best practices emerges, greatly inhibiting the collaboration needed to sustain that competitive level of business agility. In fact, customers will no longer tolerate this perceived lack of responsiveness that stems from small changes on mainframe still taking 4-8 weeks to complete for most organizations.

No Silos, No Problem!

To make matters worse, many of the customers I've spoken with are undergoing a disruptive generational shift in their workforce. In fact, we expect almost a fifth of their current mainframers to retire within the next five years. As these experts retire and cede their responsibility over mission-essential applications, businesses are left with the challenge of onboarding the next generation of Digital Transformation heroes so that they may leverage the inherent advantages of mainframe towards cutting-edge technology like blockchain, artificial intelligence and hyperscale cloud.

Returning to a competitive level of business agility requires a persistent focus on breaking down silos and redefining how mainframe is experienced by business professionals as they bring application changes to market. To succeed in this endeavor, businesses must:

Empower with choice – onboard your new-to-mainframe workforce and help them quickly hit their peak performance by enabling them to interface legacy applications with proven, industry-standard tooling that show strong community support.

Automate to orchestrate – build traceability and automated feedback into every stage of your lifecycle development so that your teams have full visibility into orchestrating pipeline activities across platforms for effective multi-modal development, test and delivery.

Optimize for growth – self-fund innovation initiatives by pruning avoidable costs. From leveraging intelligent automation for more efficient SLA management to reducing vendor complexity for a more manageable DevSecOps toolchain, the opportunities are everywhere!

Ultimately, businesses who differentiate themselves through Digital Transformation achieve greater business agility and innovation velocity by mitigating strategic risks, amplifying performance of teams in development, test, operations and security, and managing intelligently against increasing cost pressures.

Transform the Mainframe Experience

When done right, Mainframe becomes an enabler rather than a bottleneck for innovation. Engaging the platform becomes a wholly different experience; easy-to-use and scalable in a manner much like Amazon Web Services. Most critically, customers achieve business agility by:

1. "Consuming" mainframe products as mainframe services, thus realizing a service model that better aligns costs to value realized.

2. Enabling teams to access mission-essential mainframe assets through industry-standard, open-source tooling like Git, Jenkins, Gradle and more.

Jean Louis Vignaud is VP Product Management in CA Technologies MainFrame BU

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