Posts Tagged ‘Assembler’

Compuware Acquisition Boosts Mainframe DevOps

August 3, 2018

The acquisition of XaTester, new enhancements, and a partnership with Parasoft moves Compuware Topaz for Total Test toward leadership in the automated unit testing that has become essential for Agile and DevOps on the mainframe.  Compuware clearly has picked up its steady but languid quarterly pace of delivering new mainframe software. This comes on top of Topaz for Enterprise Data announced just a few weeks ago here.

Especially for mainframe shops, automated mainframe unit testing may present the biggest obstacle to speedy new code delivery.  The testing must not just be automated but continuous. As such, it serves as the centerpiece of the entire agile downstream process, which also includes continuous integration and continuous delivery. Only by delivering continuous automated testing can the mainframe shop deliver the no-fail quality of service for which it is heralded. Continuous automated testing is essential for controlling business risk, especially given the increased complexity and pace of modern application delivery.

To put it another way: building and integrating code changes is certainly important. However, if the automated delivery process cannot identify how changes impact business risk or disrupt the end-user experience continuous automated testing then increased frequency and speed of continuous Integration and continuous delivery becomes more of a problem than an advantage.

To deliver on its vision of Topaz for Total Test as the defacto standard for automating mainframe unit testing across all major mainframe environments and programming languages, Compuware has:

  • Acquired XaTester from Xact Consulting A/S, enabling developers to quickly create unit tests for both batch and CICS-based programs written in COBOL, PL/I and Assembler
  • Enhanced Topaz for Total Test to provide automated unit testing for IMS batch and transactional applications. Testing for IMS is especially important given that newer developers often have little or no hands-on experience with IMS code. This presents a challenge since more than 95 percent of the top Fortune 1000 companies use IMS to process more than 50 billion transactions a day and manage 15 million gigabytes of critical business data. Fortunately, IBM continues to add new features to IMS that help adjust to the changing IT world. These enhancements complement Topaz for Total Test’s existing support for batch applications written in COBOL.
  • Partnered with Parasoft, a leading innovator in end-to-end test automation for software development. The first deliverable from the partnership is integration between Parasoft SOAtest and Topaz for Total Test. This integration enables developers working on mainframe applications to quickly and easily test API calls between mainframe and non-mainframe systems, an increasingly critical aspect of DevOps.

Topaz for Total Test transforms mainframe development by giving developers the same type of unit testing capabilities on the mainframe that distributed platform teams have become accustomed to on other platforms. Unit testing enables developers to find potential problems in their code as early as possible to more quickly and frequently deliver incremental changes in software functionality while more granularly documenting code for the benefit of other developers.

DevOps, also presents complications for the mainframe that come from its reputation for slow, painstaking, methodical release cycles. DevOps is about making sure the way an application is deployed in production is the same way it was deployed in test and development.

According to IBM writing in piece titled DevOps for the mainframe, notes DevOps also includes the notion of applying software management to the scripts and processes used for the actual deployment and monitoring and taking the monitoring capabilities from Operations into development and test to get an early understanding of how the system will actually perform.

As the IBM writers continue: In the z/OS environment, organizations are generally building only the changes, the deltas, to the application and deploying them into the environment.  It is very common to find that some parts of an application have not been rebuilt in decades. Worse yet, there are generally few z/OS test environments that are shared across application development teams.  The tools also are rarely the same tools used by the distributed teams.  These differences increase the difficultly of achieving an-end-to-end DevOps process.

This is where Compuware comes in. Topaz for Total Test fundamentally transforms mainframe development by giving developers the same type of unit testing capabilities on the mainframe they’ve become accustomed to on other platforms, mainly x86.

The result for large enterprises, Compuware continues, is a unified DevOps toolchain that accelerates development across all platforms so a multi-platform shop can more effectively compete in today’s rapidly-changing markets. “The new rules of the digital economy are putting pressure on our customers to achieve the utmost speed with the utmost quality,” said Luke Tuddenham, Vice President at CPT, a global IT consulting services firm with a significant testing practice. The new Topaz tools should The acquisition of XaTester, new enhancements, and a partnership with Parasoft moves Compuware Topaz for Total Test toward leadership in the automated unit testing that has become essential for Agile and DevOps on the mainframe. .

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his work at and here.

Compuware Brings the Mainframe to AWS

October 6, 2017

IBM talks about the power of the cloud for the mainframe and has turned Bluemix into a cloud development and deployment platform for open systems. Where’s the Z?

Now Compuware has made for the past several years quarterly advances in its mainframe tooling, which are now  available through AWS. Not only have those advances made mainframe management and operations more intuitive and graphical through a string of Topaz releases, but with AWS it is now more accessible from anywhere. DancingDinosaur has been reporting on Compuware’s string of Topaz advances for two years, here, here, and here.

By tapping the power of both the cloud and the mainframe, enterprises can deploy Topaz to their global development workforce in minutes, accelerating the modernization of their mainframe environments. As Compuware noted: mainframe shops now have the choice of deploying Topaz on-premise or on AWS. By leveraging the cloud, they can deploy Topaz more quickly, securely, and scale without capital costs while benefiting from new Topaz features as soon as the company delivers them.

To make Topaz work on AWS Compuware turned to Amazon AppStream 2.0 technology, which provides for global development, test, and ops teams with immediate and secure cloud access to Compuware’s entire innovative mainframe Agile/DevOps solution stack, mainly Topaz. Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a fully managed, secure application streaming service that allows users to stream desktop applications from AWS to any device running a web browser.

Cloud-based deployment of Topaz, Compuware notes, allows for significantly faster implementation, simple administration, a virtual integrated development environment (IDE), adaptive capacity, and immediate developer access to software updates. The last of these is important, since Compuware has been maintaining a quarterly upgrade release schedule, in effect delivering new capabilities every 90 days.

Compuware is in the process of patenting technology to offer an intuitive, streamlined configuration menu that leverages AWS best practices to make it easy for mainframe admins to quickly configure secure connectivity between Topaz on AWS and their mainframe environment. It also enables the same connectivity to their existing cross-platform enterprise DevOps toolchains running on-premise, in the cloud, or both. The upshot: organizations can deploy Topaz across their global development workforce in minutes, accelerating the modernization of their mainframe environments.

Using Topaz on AWS, notes Compuware, mainframe shops can benefit in a variety of ways, specifically:

  • Modify, test and debug COBOL, PL/I, Assembler and other mainframe code via an Eclipse-based virtual IDE
  • Visualize complex and/or undocumented application logic and data relationships
  • Manage source code and promote artifacts through the DevOps lifecycle
  • Perform common tasks such as job submission, review, print and purge
  • Leverage a single data editor to discover, visualize, edit, compare, and protect mainframe files and data

The move to the Eclipse-based IDE presents a giant step for traditional mainframe shops trying to modernize. Eclipse is a leading open source IDE with IBM as a founding member. In addition to Eclipse, Compuware also integrates with other modern tools, including Jenkins, SonarSource, Altassian. Jenkins is an open source automation server written in Java that helps to automate the non-human part of software development process with continuous integration while facilitating technical aspects of continuous delivery. SonarSource enables visibility into mainframe application quality. Atlassian develops products for software developers, project managers, and content management and is best known for Jira, its issue tracking application.

Unlike many mainframe ISVs, Compuware has been actively partnering with various innovative vendors to extend the mainframe’s tool footprint and bring the kind of tools to the mainframe that young developers, especially Millennials, want. Yes, it is possible to access the sexy REST-based Web and mobile tools through IBM’s Bluemix, but for mainframe shops it appears kludgy. By giving its mainframe customers access through AWS to advanced tools, Compuware improves on this. And AWS beats Bluemix in terms of cloud penetration and low cost.

All mainframe ISVs should make their mainframe products accessible through the cloud if they want to keep their mainframe products relevant. IBM has its cloud; of course there is AWS, Microsoft has Azure, and Google rounds out the top four. These and others will keep cloud economics competitive for the foreseeable future. Hope to see you in the cloud.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at and here.


SOA Software Enables New Ways to Tap Mainframe Code

January 30, 2014

Is the core enterprise processing role handled by the mainframe enough? Yet, enterprises today often are running different types of workloads built using different app dev styles. These consist of compound applications encompassing the mainframe and a variety of distributed systems (Linux, UNIX, Windows) and different programming models, data schema, services, and more. Pieces of these workloads may be running on the public cloud, a partner’s private cloud, and a host of other servers. The pieces are pulled together at runtime to support the particular workload.  Mainframe shops should want to play a big role in this game too.

“Mainframe applications still sit at heart of enterprise operations, but mainframe managers also want to take advantage of these applications in new ways,” says Brent Carlson, SVP at SOA Software. The primary way of doing this is through SOA services, and mainframes have been playing in the SOA arena for years. But it has never been as seamless, easy, and flexible as it should. And as social and mobile and other new types of workloads get added to the services mix, the initial mainframe SOA approach has started to show its age. (Over the years, DancingDinosaur has written considerably on mainframe SOA and done numerous SOA studies.)

That’s why DancingDinosaur welcomes SOA Software’s Lifecycle Manager to the mainframe party.  It enables what the company calls a “RESTful Mainframe,” through governance of REST APIs that front zOS-based web services. This amounts to a unified platform from a governance perspective to manage both APIs as well as existing SOA assets. As Carlson explained: applying development governance to mainframe assets helps mainframe shops overcome the architectural challenges inherent in bringing legacy systems into the new API economy, where mobile apps need rapid, agile access to backend systems.

The company is aiming to make Lifecycle Manager into the system-of-record for all enterprise assets including mainframe-based SOAP services and RESTful APIs that expose legacy software functionality. The promise: seamless access to service discovery and impact analysis whether on mainframe, distributed systems, or partner systems. Both architects and developers should be able to map dependencies between APIs and mainframe assets at the development stage and manage those APIs across their full lifecycles.

Lifecycle Manager integrates with SOA’s Policy Manager to work either top down or bottom up.  The top down approach relies on a service wrapping of existing mainframe programs. Think of this as the WSDL first approach to designing web services and then developing programs on mainframe to implement it.  The bottom up approach starts with the copy book.  Either way, it is automated and intended to be seamless. It also promises to guide services developers on best practices like encryption, assign and enforce correct policies, and more.

“Our point: automate whatever we can, and guide developers into good practices,” said Carlson.  In the process, it simplifies the task of exposing mainframe capabilities to a broader set of applications while not interfering with mainframe developers.  To distributed developers the mainframe is just another service endpoint that is accessed as a service or API.  Nobody has to learn new things; it’s just a browser-based IDE using copy books.

For performance, the Lifecycle Manager-based runtime environment is written in assembler, which makes it fast while minimizing MIPS consumption. It also comes with the browser-based IDE, copybook tool, and import mappings.

The initial adopters have come from financial services and the airlines.  The expectation is that usage will expand beyond that as mainframe shops and distributed developers seek to leverage core mainframe code for a growing array of workloads that weren’t on anybody’s radar screen even a few years ago.

There are other ways to do this on the mainframe, starting with basic SOA and web services tools and protocols, like WSDL. Many mainframe SOA efforts leverage CICS, and IBM offers additional tools, most recently SoftLayer, that address the new app dev styles.

This is healthy for mainframe data centers. If nothing else SOA- and API-driven services workloads that include the mainframe help lower the cost per workload of the mainframe. It also puts the mainframe at the center of today’s IT action.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

Monitor System z CICS on an iPad

September 15, 2010

The iPad apparently is hot among System z admins. Unlike last week’s post about managing System z networking through the iPad, the folks at PlexSpy (Matter of Fact Software) only talk about monitoring CICS through the iPad, not managing it. CICS is far too complicated and critical to trust actual management to anything but a full blown mainframe CICS management tool.

There is no shortage of tools to manage CICS. Tools from IBM, CA, and BMC provide robust, industrial strength mainframe tools for CICS.

CICS, even more than JCL or Assembler, has emerged as the litmus test for mainframe competency. Those who have mastered CICS enjoy a small extra measure of status, it seems, when mainframers gather. The IBM Academic Imitative curriculum includes a slew of courses on COBOL and Assembler and JCL but just one course on CICS.

That shouldn’t be surprising. CICS, the mainframe’s high performance, high volume transaction monitor, is powerful and highly complex. Anything CICS touches almost always is mission-critical. And as organizations extend the mainframe into new areas CICS will become more important than ever. It plays a key role in strategies for delivering mainframe capabilities as services and as part of a SOA effort.

Because of the criticality and complexity of CICS, PlexSpy, which runs on the mainframe, is a read-only tool that just monitors CICS. That eliminates the chance of a user screwing something up. It is accessed via any browser, including the iPad, which is what the company uses to demo the tool.

However, PlexSpy takes a broad view of the CICS infrastructure, which makes it easier to start troubleshooting CICS when problems occur. Its purpose is to help administrators who may not be particularly adept at CICS to respond to complaints by identifying the likely problem. Simply entering the name of a business application, for example, will bring up a view of all the relevant CICS infrastructure components—regions, files, whatever—that impact the application.

The tool flags likely discrepancies. From there, the admin can turn over the likely problem to skilled CICS staff, saving them the time it takes to laboriously trace possible problems throughout the extensive CICS infrastructure. To actually resolve the problem, they will turn to their regular CICS management tools. The value of PlexSpy lies in its ability to identify likely problems fast and without requiring deep CICS skills, not in its use of the iPad. In the case of PlexSpy, any browser will do. The iPad is just sexier than, say, a clunky Windows laptop, which would work just as well.

At a time when IT is pressured to contain costs, mainly by reducing staffing, monitoring tools like PlexSpy play a worthwhile role. They make it possible to reduce the workload on more costly CICS experts by having less skilled (meaning less costly) staff do the initial troubleshooting.

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