Compuware Ties COBOL Unit Testing Tool to DevOps Platforms

Mainframe computing specialist Compuware has hooked its Topaz for Total Test unit testing tool into several DevOps platforms, including the Jenkins source code automation server, the SonarQube continuous code inspection platform and its own ISPW source-code and release-automation solution.

The Topaz for Total Test lets developers at all skill levels perform unit testing on COBOL code just as they do with Java, PHP and other programming languages. These new integrations for the tool -- which itself was launched in January -- enhance and build upon previous integrations of Compuware products with Jenkins and SonarQube, the company said.

By linking the Topaz tool with Jenkins, SonarQube, and ISPW, Compuware aims to simplify the process of changing to enterprise systems of record, explained Sam Knutson, Compuware's VP of Product Management. The aim is to "de-legacy" the maintenance of mainframe applications.

"If 'de-legacy' isn't a word," Knutson said, "it ought to be. If you look at what makes people think mainframe apps are really hard, it's the complexity of the applications. But complexity isn't unique to mainframe apps. Where they really differ from modern apps is in what's missing. There are no unit tests. There is no documentation or its woefully out of date. And the expertise that built those applications 30-plus years ago is walking out the door."

Essentially, by adding the unit-testing piece to this evolving "mainstreaming of the mainframe" picture, Compuware is adding new levels of agility while reducing dependency on the specialized knowledge of those departing mainframe veterans.

"We're continuing to drive automation," Knutson added. "And we're fitting more into a fully automated, multi-vendor DevOps toolchain that is completely inclusive on the mainframe. If you're coming from a mainframe perspective, this is all new. For everyone else, this is normal. It just makes sense."

Industry analyst Richard Ptak, managing partner of Ptak Associates, sees unit testing for COBOL code as a critical capability for mainframe DevOps efforts. "Given the abject failure of re-platforming initiatives, large enterprises hoping to avoid digital irrelevance must aggressively modernize their mainframe DevOps practices," Ptak said in a statement. "Key to the modernization and 'de-legacing' of mainframe applications is the adoption of unit testing for COBOL code that is equivalent to, and well-integrated with, unit testing as practiced across the rest of the enterprise codebase."

Compuware is also announcing a new "stubbing" capability for DB2 databases that allows developers to run unit tests without requiring an active connection to a live DB2 database. (Stubbing involves replacing a method, function or entire object with a version that produces hard-coded responses.) While Topaz for Total Test can be used to test code that processes all types of mainframe data, the company said, its stubbing capability for DB2, VSAM, and QSAM data types makes it easier to create repeatable tests, because data stubs are created automatically and do not require re-compiling.

Compuware began defining what it is calling the "mainframe renaissance" last year with the acquisitions of Itegration's Mainframe SCM Practice, ISPW BenchMark Technologies' mainframe source-code and release-automation solution, and Standardware's COPE IMS virtualization technology, as well as a new partnership with Software Engineering of America.

"We are on a quest to remake the mainframe into a first-class citizen in an increasingly Agile and DevOps world," Compuware CEO Chris O'Malley told me in an earlier interview. "And for nine quarters in a row we've delivered new capabilities and enhancements to our classic offerings through innovations, integrations, and acquisitions. We're taking the company out of the mainframe dark ages. Without a mainframe renaissance, large global enterprises above a certain vintage will simply not be able to compete in fast-moving digital markets where disruption is the norm."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at

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