Improving Mainframe Agility With DevOps

Content By Devops .com

Mainframe workloads were on the rise even before the coronavirus pandemic, and transaction-processing mainframes became vital as lockdowns went into effect and every aspect of business and personal life occurred online. Mainframes are reliable, secure, highly available and affordable, and it is essential for organizations to ensure their mainframe can achieve peak agility to enhance profitability and improve customer experience.

There are four areas of focus for DevOps teams who want to improve mainframe agility: teamwork, cloud services, KPIs and automation. Let’s look more closely at each one.

Encourage Teamwork Between DevOps and Mainframe Ops Teams to Improve Agility

It’s vital that mainframe ops teams work seamlessly with DevOps teams to ensure adoption of best practices in both areas, where practical, and that those best practices are adhered to. No matter how skilled your DevOps team, they must always be open to learning from mainframe professionals, operational and cybersecurity experts.

To truly empower everyone on your team to achieve maximum mainframe agility, mainframe code must translate within the larger, multi-platform DevOps toolchain. If DevOps and mainframe code are not in sync, mainframe code could slow down software development lifecycles. Important processes, such as diagnostics, test execution and source code need to be integrated to enable DevOps teams to achieve better productivity.

Enterprise DevOps is shifting focus away from software development exclusively to encompass surrounding processes within organizations. Successful DevOps teams must be able to work with cybersecurity experts and mainframe ops teams throughout the coding life cycle to ensure that everyone is on the same page and applications are functioning optimally.

Decide Whether to Move Entirely to the Mainframe or Integrate Cloud Services with On-Premises Mainframes

Scaling your organization for growth by migrating entirely to the cloud is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. In some cases, moving away from the mainframe’s core systems can be costly and unnecessary.

Cloud-based services don’t have to be eliminated entirely, either. The cloud can and should be used for business processes that could benefit from real-time data updates, easy team collaboration and seamless integration with other software and tools. Mainframes excel at functions that require reliable, secure transactions.

Whatever decision your organization makes, it must be communicated and agreed to at all levels. A customer-centric approach is ideal here, where the needs of the business are considered, but a seamless customer experience is prioritized.

Establish Measurable KPIs

Achievable and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential to monitoring your progress as an organization. KPIs for mainframe functionality usually include an availability rate of 99.999%, which roughly translates to downtime of less than 5.6 seconds per year. KPIs also generally measure time windows for batch completions. Software delivery velocity, efficiency and quality should be evaluated, but make sure you’re not prioritizing one of these metrics at the expense of another.

There are more nuanced goals that need to be prioritized, too. Continuous improvements in software delivery are harder to quantify, but no less important. By fostering a collaborative environment where communication is key and teamwork is valued, your organization can create a better product or deliver better services for developers and customers.

Use Automation Whenever Possible for Mainframe Agility

Automated testing and AI-enabled processes can solve problems in real-time and free your DevOps teams to focus on larger issues. Mainframe ops teams can save their organizations money by relying on automated processes, which can also reduce personnel costs.

Despite the benefits of automation, mainframe code is often removed from automated processes commonly applied to DevOps toolchains. Javascript, for instance, is one of the most commonly used programming languages due to its platform independence. It’s an essential tool for DevOps developers to enable the smooth configuration and installation of applications.

But as infrastructures grow more complicated and surface areas expand to accommodate more users, operations teams can feel overwhelmed. With the continuous pressure to create new and better software on accelerated timelines, DevOps teams can unwittingly introduce vulnerabilities in Javascript coding as they speed through the software development and delivery pipeline.

Automated mainframe diagnostics and optimization tools are vital to improving both the customer and developer experience.  Comprehensive and accurate data presented to mainframe ops teams in real-time can detect vulnerabilities and to find and fix potential issues.

Ultimately, the mainframe is here to stay, with 93% of software experts citing the strength, reliability and scalability of the platform. Mainframes form the backbone of most monetized applications and websites, so it’s no surprise that mainframe agility has become a top focus for many IT departments. No matter how sleek and flashy your application is, if customers have a bad experience at the transactional level of the process, it could mean lost sales.

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