It's Not the Mainframe, It's You
February 11, 2020

Chris O'Malley
Compuware

Many IT professionals have discounted the strategic relevance of the mainframe for years on baseless claims such as: "It's too expensive," "Software changes are too slow," "Delivery is inflexible," "Our talent is retiring," or "No one wants to work on the mainframe." The reality is that in this Digital Age, the mainframe's strategic relevance has only increased as the number of transactional workloads continues to rise on a platform that remains unbeatable in reliability, transactional performance, security, and transactional efficiency. Consider the following findings from BMC's 2019 Mainframe Survey of more than 1,100 executives and IT professionals:

■ 93 percent believe in the combined long-term and new workload strength of the platform, the highest level of confidence since 2013.

■ 52 percent believe the mainframe will support growth in new workloads — a significant increase from past years and a sign of IT and business confidence in mainframe capabilities.

■ 59 percent of executives recognize the mainframe as a platform for growth — an increase from 51 percent in 2018.

So why the ongoing dissonance between belief and reality? Many in DevOps and IT organizations wrongly focus their frustration on the mainframe, when the real problem is individuals' outdated technical prejudices and attitudes. Change is needed and it starts within one's own mindset.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

A growth mindset is open, positive, and excited about learning and practicing new ways of working. Too often, attitudes towards the mainframe reflect the opposite, a fixed mindset that ranges from threatened, to apathetic, to uninformed. A fixed mindset sees the mainframe as unable to change — forever outdated technology and a bottleneck to software delivery. But a growth mindset recognizes the unique virtues of the mainframe — unrivaled in performance, scalability, security and reliability — and the critical role it plays in the Digital Age.

Mainframe software development and delivery can be accelerated through the adoption of an intuitive IDE, Agile DevOps methodologies, and modern tooling. And mainframe code changes can be easily and quickly incorporated into every aspect of a modern DevOps toolchains — from source code management to unit and functional testing, to CI/CD processes and more.

Encourage the Next Generation of Developers

Perhaps you believe that the next generation of developers would not be satisfied in a mainframe career. Of course, new college graduates would dread the idea of working for a company with a fixed mindset and oppressed in a "status-quo" culture. However, when developers learn the new, innovative and challenging work that urgently needs to happen on the mainframe, as well as its resulting high-impact on the lives of everyday consumers and the global economy, they see a mainframe career as one that can provide them with challenging, prestigious and meaningful work.

Assuming the mainframe is not the career choice of a new generation is also counter-intuitive to the facts: the BMC survey also states that 60 percent of millennials believe the mainframe will grow and attract new workloads, compared to only 50 percent of baby boomers. There is latent excitement among newer generations of developers for mainframe work, and you are likely doing your organization a grave disservice if you discourage or demotivate these new mainframe stewards through your actions and your words.

Relinquish Fear and Embrace Continuous Improvement

Another aspect of a growth mindset is that it does not fear failure, feedback and the success of others, rather, it embraces them as part of learning. The word "measurement" can sometimes instantly invoke fears of learning an unpleasant truths or unhealthy comparisons. But you must fight against this resistance and seek fast feedback, learn through experiences and strive for continuous improvement.

You cannot improve what you can't measure, so DevOps teams must set meaningful metrics related to quality, velocity and efficiency, and continually nudge themselves beyond current levels. Start with your biggest source of waste or mainframe software delivery bottleneck. Experiment, iterate and observe. When you've resolved your greatest bottleneck, move on to the next, and never be satisfied with the status quo.

Ask Yourself, "Is it Me?"

Surveys are continuing to show ongoing mainframe relevance, and negative and dismissive attitudes can be very dangerous to mainframe-based enterprises. Especially when those attitudes are endorsed and promoted by IT leadership. It's time for those with outdated outlooks to fundamentally shift, because ingrained attitudes and beliefs are a primary impediment to the mainframe being unleashed. The mainframe itself isn't the problem — rather, it might be you.

Chris O'Malley is CEO of Compuware
Share this

Industry News

July 09, 2020

ShiftLeft released a new version of NextGen Static Analysis (NG SAST), including new workflows, purpose-built for developers that significantly improve security, while enhancing productivity.

July 09, 2020

RunSafe Security announced a partnership with JFrog that will enable RunSafe to supercharge binary protections via a simple plugin that JFrog users can deploy within their Artifactory repositories and instantly protect binaries and containers.

July 09, 2020

LeanIX closed $80 million in Series D funding led by new investor Goldman Sachs Growth.

July 08, 2020

Afi.ai introduced Afi Data Platform, a cloud-based replication and resiliency service that helps to monitor, predict downtime and recover K8s applications.

July 08, 2020

D2iQ announced the release of Conductor, a new interactive learning platform that enables enterprises to access hands-on cloud native courses and training.

July 08, 2020

SUSE entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Rancher Labs.

July 07, 2020

Micro Focus announced AI-powered enhancements to the intelligent testing capabilities of the UFT Family, a unified set of solutions designed to reduce the overall complexity of automating the functional testing processes.

July 07, 2020

Push Technology announced the launch of a new Service API capability for Diffusion Cloud, Push’s Real-Time API Management Cloud Platform.

July 07, 2020

Lightrun exited stealth and announced $4M in seed funding for the first complete continuous debugging and observability platform for production applications.

July 01, 2020

JFrog announced the launch of ChartCenter, a free, security-focused central repository of Helm charts for the community.

July 01, 2020

Kong announced a significant upgrade to open source Kuma, Kuma 0.6, available today.

July 01, 2020

Compuware Corporation, a BMC company, announced new capabilities that further automate and integrate test data and test case execution, empowering IT teams to achieve high-performance application development quality, velocity and efficiency.

June 30, 2020

Couchbase announced the general availability of Couchbase Cloud, a fully-managed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS).

June 30, 2020

Split Software announced new capabilities designed to accelerate the adoption of feature flags in large-scale organizations.

June 30, 2020

WhiteHat Security announced a discounted Web + Mobile Application Security bundle to help organizations secure the digital future.