Compuware Seeks To Modernize the Mainframe

Compuware Corp. today announced a multi-pronged initiative to converge mainframe applications into the enterprise mainstream, leveraging newer software development methodologies such as Agile and DevOps, along with the requisite modern tooling. Compuware will partner with other companies and integrate its software with modern technologies as part of the strategy, which also involves an acquisition and new updates to its existing applications.

The company aquired ISPW Benchmark Technologies, an Agile source code management and release automation specialist for cross-platform development.

The partnerships/integration aspect involves Splunk, which works with machine-generated Big Data; AppDynamics, an application intelligence company that provides next-generation Application Performance Management (APM) software; Atlassian, which provides JIRA Software for team planning and project management; SonarSource, which provides continuous code quality management software; and Jenkins, which provides an open source automation server.

The innovation of existing products continues on the company's 90-day schedule for updates, most recently involving the addition of file and table I/O visualization capabilities to its Topaz Runtime Visualizer, which helps developers inexperienced with mainframes gain insight into the inner workings of COBOL applications.

Taking Siloed Mainframes to the Mainstream
[Click on image for larger view.] Taking Siloed Mainframes to the Mainstream (source: Compuware)

All together, these moves are aimed at removing the traditional silos surrounding mainframe application development and moving mainframes into the enterprise mainstream so companies can maintain their often-priceless business logic and data and adapt legacy applications to better meet the needs of today's constantly changing business environment.

In other words, when that gray-haired guy in the corner retires, his responsibilities will smoothly transition to others more conversant in the modern cloud/mobile/Big Data world -- and who probably don't know what an MSU is.

"Instead of continuing to depend on mainframe specialists, IT must empower DevOps staff with mainstream skills to treat the mainframe as just another platform in the multi-platform enterprise -- using the same DevOps tools and processes they use for Java, x86 Linux servers, cloud, etc.," the company says in its "Mainstreaming the Mainframe" brief.

The Detroit-based company said its new initiative will help enterprises:

  • Ensure the long-term viability of core legacy COBOL applications -- even as their most experienced mainframe developers retire.
  • More effectively and adaptively leverage mainframe application logic and associated data in concert with their other distributed/Web/mobile software assets.
  • Better compete with new, disruptive market entrants.
  • Substantially improve DevOps efficiency in multi-platform enterprise environments.

And in the process, the mystique surrounding some of the last vestiges of the pre-distributed computing era -- mainframes and COBOL -- will be removed.

"The isolation that kept the mainframe stable and secure through decades of technology tumult is now proving to be its undoing," Compuware said. "The mainframe has become like a secret cult attended to by its own insular priesthood, aloof and disengaged from the wider world of commodity x86 infrastructure and the cloud. And most IT leaders have exacerbated the situation by aggressively cutting mainframe costs, rather than investing in mainframe application development. The result: mainframe environments are insufficiently responsive to the business -- not because of any inherent property of the mainframe itself, but rather because of how it has been managed."

The company's plan to improve that management met with approval by analyst Robin Bloor of The Bloor Group. "Compuware's pace of innovation and clarity of market vision demonstrate that the company is practicing the agility it preaches," the company quoted Bloor as saying. "Any CIO facing the attrition of mainframe staff and insufficient mainframe application agility should put evaluation of Compuware's re-invention of the platform at the top of their 2016 to-do list."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.