By modernizing mainframe testing and development practices, organizations can lay foundations for the future and achieve faster time to market without completely uprooting from the mainframe that is the backbone of company IT. They can also upskill their workforce and ‘upcycle’ mainframe applications in the process.
Enterprise architects are under increasing pressure to deliver speedy time to market to meet the expectations of end-users and customers. Doing so requires overcoming some fairly embedded challenges.
This includes testing and development being on a completely different schedule to the rest of the company’s development practices. All too often, you are left with testing delays that are at odds with your organization’s agile aspirations.
For instance, at one previous employer, I had to wait in a queue for a year and a half to get a project onto the solitary mainframe testing environment! This isn’t a unique experience though, I’m sure many reading this will relate. But are these challenges just something we need to accept, or is there a better way?
Deliver what your business needs, when it needs it
Traditionally, mainframe modernization has seemed time-consuming and costly, but it doesn’t have to be, and a new approach could make life easier with wide-ranging benefits for the business.
When it comes to testing, one solution could be to decentralize testing for these applications in, for example, a Linux-based environment off the mainframe.
The first benefit of taking this path to modernization is achieving true interoperability of mainframe application testing, and bringing that testing exactly in line with the other development pipelines of the organization so that test environments for mainframe applications can be spun up continuously. This is key to being able to develop and test with fewer headaches, streamlining the all-important time to market process.
A containerized approach allows true flexibility. Each project can have its own test region, testing environments can be treated as other non-mainframe test environments, providing common process structures across an IT department, reducing the testing timeline and saying goodbye to forced downtime when the month-end batch runs.
Conservatively, in a traditional mainframe infrastructure let’s say testing has to shut down one day every month to free up all resources for production. With 20 working days in a month, that is 5% of your time lost. If you can get that 5% in productivity back by using modern test environments off-mainframe based on Linux, you’re significantly enhancing test speed and efficiency. The separation of containerized testing also allows you to develop remotely and offline if needs be. In theory, you could be half way up a mountain in Snowdonia with your laptop and get the job done!
Taking the testing and development process off the mainframe and onto more familiar and intuitive development environments also opens the opportunity for software engineers from other departments to be cross-trained to maintain and test mainframe applications too. Applications in COBOL, Java, or any other language, can now be developed, maintained and tested continuously by any trained software engineer. Being able to utilize these development environments to maintain and modernize legacy mainframe applications provides the best platform to upskill developers, and suddenly, your mainframe skills base has expanded.
And let’s not forget cost benefits. With mainframe testing and development happening in a modern environment of your choice, you’re able to take advantage of scalable pricing in open and cloud architectures, which are built to accommodate the needs of today’s organizations.
Acceleration in action
Sounds fairly compelling, right? But don’t just take it from me.
BPER Banca, one of Italy’s foremost national banks, is a great example of what happens when you’re able to introduce these next steps into your process.
BPER Banca migrated select core banking services to Software Defined Mainframe (SDM), with the goal of improving its test efficiency.
By migrating to SDM, the company could begin the move towards continuous testing and deployment for its core banking applications. And, in migrating applications and data piece by piece, migration was straightforward, development speed increased and time to market for its application portfolio was accelerated.
Platform for innovation
Utilizing technology such as SDM for the purposes of faster development and testing can have radical benefits for your mainframe team and the business as a whole. It means testing environments can be spun up continuously for any application and deployed on your environment of choice – even on the mainframe. And all of this can be achieved by any trained software engineer within the company, with no loss of interoperability and minimal cost implications.
What this means is that you can preserve the magic embodied in your company’s legacy applications and teams and combine them more easily with modern development pipelines and testing tools. You finally have the freedom to deploy your most critical assets on a platform for innovation and achieve that all-important time to market.
How to navigate complex cloud migrations
Technology is at the heart of every modernisation project, and it promises greater flexibility and speed to unlock a competitive advantage. However, legacy application migration and modernisation from the mainframe is often the biggest barrier to the Cloud. As a result, innovative business models and new ideas are being held back. But standing still is […]Read Blog
How to use your expert knowledge to manage mainframe applications in an open systems environment
Potential downtime and service disruption, operational changes due to switching to working off the mainframe, and fears around job roles and job security come up fairly often. Fortunately, the reality can be far more positive than some of the scare stories you may have heard. In fact, whether you’re approaching retirement or in the middle […]Read Blog
How to unlock the massive value embedded in your mainframe applications
Doing so requires unlocking these assets from legacy systems. This is a process that has been and continues to be complex, in particular when a mainframe is involved, but thanks to modern technological methods, extracting these assets is now a viable route for organizations. It comes down to choosing the method that unlocks the relevant […]Read Blog