Introduction

For many organisations mainframe still drives essential back end processes with a plethora of other technology driving what might be termed ‘front of organisation’ processes and procedures.

Mainframe is at the heart of many organisations and is essential for ensuring an effective front-end service layer. However, the entire service layer, and the batch systems, need to be managed in a more agile way.

Although software on the mainframe has some level of automated promotions and releases, most of the tools work in an autonomous way and are not integrated with each other. Consequently, this leaves many areas requiring manual processes with the potential of lengthy release processes and lengthy and expensive quality assurance processes.

Currently, teams are working in a serial conventional way to release software. For example, testing focusing on defects rather than quality and process enhancement. Consequently, the situation is further complicated by a Governance Layer that has the effect of making the whole process more cumbersome, inefficient and slower.

The Mainframe Ecosystem

Whilst other platforms, such as mobile cloud and distributed, embraced DevOps to innovate and bring changes to market more quickly, DevOps is still relatively new in the mainframe ecosystem. Traditionally, mainframes have limited release cycles, limited automation capabilities, and limits on build and deployment. Organisation are used to a few releases per year

and to extract low value from their release cycle. Put simply, enterprises choose mainframe because of its high availability, scalability and security rather than a quick route to market. Bringing agile practices into mainframe can address this and subsequently unlock tremendous value to enterprises. The first stage may involve setting targets for monthly releases to gradually introduce DevOps principles to a mainframe environment.

Areas of DevOps mainframe competence

  • Release CI/CD pipeline
  • Continuous Testing (testing Process Orchestration, Continuous Business Risk Assessment, Monitoring)
  • AI enabled monitoring, KPIs and analysis (zAdvisor, IBM UrbanCode Velocity)
  • Continuous testing of batch systems on mainframes
  • Mainframe Virtualisation and Data Virtualisation
  • Mainframe Source Control Migration (ISPW)
  • Deployment Automation for z Systems (IBM DB2, IBM UrbanCode for z Systems, Batch Schedules)
  • Test Data Management and Data Provisioning

Mainframes are critical to the enterprise. It is estimated that 70% of the fortune 500 companies use mainframes.

This figure is even higher in Financial Services and Payments. Mainframe systems and software make up the backbone of many of the processes in our digital life and is on a constant increase since mobile has become the dominant go-to channel of many day to day activities.

Key business drivers
Key IT Drivers

Top Challenges Bringing DevOps to Mainframe

  • Testing and QA is too slow and ineffective with lack of automation, more emphasis on catching issues when compared to preventing quality issues
  • SDLC process are unnecessarily serialised and mostly manual and with wastage between handoffs, (little or no ‘shift left’ practice)
  • Culture in mainframe teams is aligned to waterfall with lack of joint ownership, shared goals and generally not integrated with rest of the organisation
  • Nature of the technology and current governance model makes it difficult to introduce changes, improvements and lean/agile processes
  • Mainframe environments and data are often the bottleneck for business agility. Lack of automation and convoluted processes are the key reasons
  • Hybrid Specialists with both mainframe and DevOps skills are scarce and often become a bottleneck to deliver the improvements and transformation objectives

How Can Sandhata Help Mainframe Become More Agile?

Man jumping from wall to wall

Strategy

 

Our strategy team/consultants work in an advisory capacity, proactively bringing industry insights to ensure that the supplier eco-system, delivery model, strategies and approaches are in line with the target operating model.

Release & Deploy

  • Release Modelling
  • Deployment Orchestration

Environment

  • Automated Environment
  • Upgrades
  • Mainframe Virtualisation

Delivery

Our mainframe DevOps experts deliver solutions in CI, release pipeline automation, test process automation and

performance engineering for mainframe. Our consultants add value from day one with their strong Agile and DevOps skills.

Development

  • Automated Impact Analysis
  • Enhanced Code Generation (IDEs)
  • Automated Unit testing, Code Analysis

Testing

  • Test Automation – Func. & Non-Func.
  • Continuous testing pipeline
  • Robotic Process Automation
  • Automated Test Data Management

The Sandhata Approach

 

Culture

Sandhata coach delivery teams to adjust their behaviours and thinking to be lean and agile by demonstrating changes and their impact during a pilot. We encourage cross-skilled integrated teams (feature teams) with shared goals.

Process

The convoluted process in the mainframe delivery world significantly diminishes the value of any technology modernisation, as such we package the technical framework with the required process changes which makes the solution more effective.

.

 

Technology

The tool chain we recommend is aimed at achieving an optimum level of automation. We integrate key activities involved in the delivery cycle, removing unnecessary dependencies and manual handoffs. The objective is to use the CI/CD framework to reduce limitations imposed by mainframe specialist availability, improve agility, shift left QA while drive most of the activities from distributed platforms.

Governance

Typically, mainframe governance is heavy with many controls in place, which restricts developers and testers. Consequently, the operations and environments teams have control limits which impacts the scope of end-to-end automation in higher environments. We actively pursue changes to the governance

sandhatas approach to agile website
application artifacts wheel

Key Sandhata Services in the CI/CD Space

Continuous Delivery

  • Build & deployment automation
  • Release orchestration modelling
  • Automated infrastructure provisioning
  • Cloud and containers

Continuous Testing

  • Model based test case design
  • Test data management
  • Automated testing & SV
  • Performance engineering

Mainframe Services

  • Mainframe CI/CD
  • Mainframe continuous testing
  • Batch system test automation
  • Mainframe virtualisation

Metrics

  • Monitoring
  • KPI dashboards

Ready to modernise your mainframe?

Leave your details below and Sandhata will call you back