Mainframe DevOps Can Improve Development Now And Into The Future
It’s no surprise that as the Covid-19 pandemic disruption really got underway in 2020 technology managers started worrying about how to continue managing their mainframe systems. Unlike modern cloud-based technology, mainframes have traditionally relied on engineers and other support teams being present.
Google Trends shows that online searches for ‘Mainframe DevOps’ soared during the summer of 2020. Companies wanted to understand how they could quickly improve their mainframe development environment so it could be more flexible and could also support the remote working that became common throughout the pandemic.
In 2022 it’s no longer a pandemic response that is needed, but there is still a need to find a way to manage a more flexible mainframe development environment. Mainframe DevOps should still be on the agenda for any manager with mainframes in their technology stack.
Industry analyst IDC published a research paper in 2020 that explored just how far the adoption of mainframe DevOps has come. The paper looks at several areas, including:
- What are the drivers for mainframe Agile development and the adoption of DevOps?
- What are the widespread challenges and benefits of DevOps?
- What are the current leading best practices?
Mainframe DevOps is gaining traction. These practices and tools rightly earned more attention since 2020, but there is still a need to explain and explore the opportunities in 2022. What is really interesting about the IBA Group approach to Mainframe DevOps is that they have built this to operate “as a service” – in a very similar way to modern cloud computing principles.
The first hurdle for most mainframe users is how to be agile. How to speed up software delivery and encourage collaboration. A good DevOps process will also allow for increased dialogue with the end users of the system. After all, the developers should not be guessing which new features are required or which need to be prioritized – the system itself should allow the tech team and end users to engage and plan together.
There are four key problems that can be resolved with a strong mainframe DevOps strategy:
- Integration problems – bridging the gap between your mainframe and other systems it needs to connect to
- Capacity planning and optimization – use automation and continuous improvement to decrease operating costs
- Deployment and project life cycle improvement – reduce manual operations, reduce time to market, and reduce code errors. In general improving the development environment.
- Change culture and organizational dynamics – use system thinking to free people from repetitive tasks and create an environment where younger developers actually want to be engaged.
These are all good reasons to explore mainframe DevOps, but I personally believe that final point is the most important. Not only is it important to improve the development environment for the present day – so errors can be reduced and time to market improved – but the entire culture of the mainframe environment needs to be updated.
Many younger IT technicians have doubted the future of the mainframe environment, so it has been harder to build the next generation of expertise. With a strong mainframe DevOps strategy this issue is reduced and the environment becomes more attractive.
Changing the mainframe culture and using DevOps will lead to a long-term future for these systems.