DevOps Mainframe Lifecycle: Efficiency, Automation, and Innovation

October 7, 2020  |  Andrew Dvirnyk

We have been exploring the many ways in which DevOps improves mainframe functionality. We looked at how improving flexibility and infusing agility makes it easier to achieve goals and overcome challenges. Those challenging range from limited staff to budget constraints. And the opportunities range from more sustainable solutions to more engaged employees who are able to focus on generating creative solutions and accessing automation to improve the day-to-day operations of your organization.

Today, we are sharing more of the ways that DevOps can improve your existing capabilities. Further, we are looking at how you are able to test for success with DevOps. Let’s take a look at the impact of DevOps from this perspective – as a time saver, and efficiency booster, and a quality improver.

Reduce Cycle Times

DevOps reduces cycle time. We all know what a critical problem cycle time is and how important it is to reduce cycle time from a productivity standpoint, a budget standpoint, and an overall sustainability standpoint.

But how does DevOps help to reduce cycle times and delays? Simply put, outside of the DevOps scenario, we see weeks to months as the period to deliver a change on the mainframe. In the current pace of our needs, that simply is not acceptable. But, outside of the DevOps scenario, we see how it is possible. This longer period takes into account the time taken up by development, testing, quality assessment, staging, and production. Importantly, it also factors in incident management across the mainframe. And as we all know, that is no small task for the system or for our teams.

Now, in the case of DevOps, set up time is greatly reduced. So, out of the gate, we are already seeing improvements in cycle time and delivery time.

DevOps shortens the delivery process to a considerable degree. And it does so without any loss of quality. Rather, it we see the opposite come into play. With DevOps, because we are able to access information more quickly, we are able to isolate and resolve issues more quickly. And more effectively. This helps to reduce cycle times, certainly. But it also helps to improve quality and operations overall.

More Automation, Fewer Silos

In the DevOps environment, we see that silos are limited. This makes it significantly easier to access information across segments. As a result, it also becomes easier to add in automation.

Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

Automation improves access to information and the ability to share information. Importantly, automation in the DevOps environment allows for agile development. This works to the advantage of the development team because it enables the development team to do more, better, faster.

It also enables the development team to provide more creative and flexible solutions to problems. They are able to manage incidents with a flexibility and an expediency that is not possible outside of the DevOps environment.

Improve Software Delivery

Taken together, shorter cycle times, the ability to respond quickly, automation, and access to un-siloed information improve overall software delivery efficiencies in the DevOps environment.

Further, and again with a debt to the power of automation, the DevOps environment allows for easier standardization. This saves time and eliminates delays. Be aware, this means that efficiencies are popping up not only in the immediate, but also over the course of the lifecycle of projects and systems.

Improved software delivery is essential to the power of DevOps and the value for your organization. The ability to create efficiencies and standardize those efficiencies and responses frees up development teams to work on new innovations and solve other problems, rather than being trapped in an infinite loop of mainframe troubleshooting.

Improve Quality

One critical way in which DevOps improves quality is the way in which DevOps resolves the multiple process issues that threaten both quality and productivity over time.

In the DevOps environment, we are able to overcome challenges associated with ad hoc and fragile integration that mark systems that have been patched. DevOps eliminate the problems that are the consequence of multiple troubleshooting workarounds that have become entrenched over generations.

DevOps is a solution to Point-Point issues. It resolves visibility issues. And we all recognize this as a major challenge for anyone working with mainframe. Finally, DevOps helps to maintain a stable, accessible, flexible environment. Fewer problems arise in this type of environment. And, further, when those problems do arise in a DevOps environment, you are able to test, detect, and resolve them efficiently and effectively.

Continuous Delivery

Imagine if you never had to go hunting for information. Imagine if you never needed to back into a solution for a problem, after finding the problem many steps down the road from where it originated. We are all familiar with this scenario. After it had already done more damage than it ever needed to.

This is the DevOps environment. Continuous feedback fuels incident management with information immediately. This shortens the cycle and it enables you to resolve minor issues before they even have the chance to try to become major problems.

Collaboration

As we discussed in a previous post, DevOps is ultimately about people, about process, and about information. Collaboration is the people piece of DevOps.

The ability to communicate, and therefore collaborate across disciplines means that you can enjoy a much faster evolution and you can, therefore deploy business services more quickly. On top of that, those business services are of a higher quality. At the end of the day, this means improvement across thr portfolio. It also means a healthier, happier, stronger team.

Improved Process

In the context of collaboration, within the DevOps environment, we are able to see significant and important improvements to process. These process improvements mean that you can enjoy a much faster evolution. As a result, you are able to deploy business services more quickly. On top of that, those business services are of a higher quality.

These improvements include the ability to develop and test at a higher level, and the ability to validate the quality of operational characteristics continuously. As we discussed, it is that continuous delivery of information that is key to the efficiency and the success of the process. Ultimately, all of this comes together to reduce cost and to reduce risk.

Information and Continuous Delivery

Just as collaboration fuels process improvements, information empowers collaboration. The ability to access, test, and validate is at the core of the value DevOps provide.

Unique to DevOps, information access is built on open standards concepts. This brings together a new generation approach with a longstanding need to keep mainframes running with as few incidents as possible, and to create solutions that keep them running reliably.

Continuous delivery of information creates a lifecycle for collaboration that improves efficiencies and reduces both risks and costs.

So, what does this continuous delivery look like? And why does that information matter so much? Continuous delivery includes everything from a delivery dashboard to instrumentation and auditing. It encorporates automation. It also involves library services to access information generated and stored over time. And it provides the reporting and analytics capabilities that enable us to resolve issues now and in the future, and to report on them clearly to improve processes.

At the heart of it all are integration tools that make this stream of relevant information easy to access and easy to act upon.

Testing Across the Lifecycle

Looking deeper at the impact on people, processes, and information, we see how DevOps enables testing across the lifecycle that is not only continuous, but automated.

In this context, system programmers, developers, and testers are able to access and get much needed information from the system.

The system programmer is able to deliver mainframe configurations. The developer can deliver application code. And, importantly, the tester can deploy system tests and functional tests.  They do all of this through source control, which, once built, feeds the library.  In turn, the relevant information is fetched, and that feeds the automation.

 

At this stage, we are able to ask the important questions that help us to keep running and to keep running well. We are able to determine if deployments succeed. We are able to run smoke tests and get quick results. As we go deeper through the process enabled by DevOps. we can run system wide tests and performance tests without having to shut things down.

Gathering even more information, it is possible to determine if any new errors arise throughout the process. We can test transactions, and view logs without an information lag.

If you think that this type of development environment moves beyond just allowing us to meet our goals, you are right. This is exactly the type of development environment that inspires the kind of innovation and creativity that we crave. It empowers the kind of innovation and creativity that our business environment demands.

And that is why DevOps is an essential piece of what IBA provides. Because, like us, it is a SMART solution in the immediate and paves the way for a more innovative and sustainable future.

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