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DevOps - Driving Mainframe Agility

Applying DevOps principles and practices will be needed to ensure the DevOps values for Culture, Automation, Measurement and Sharing (CAMS). As major industries consider how to optimize for 2016, busting out of silos should be at the top of their list. This is true in all areas of service management and includes mainframe systems and applications. 

Mainframe application and system development, like all areas of development, face many obstacles that include broken processes, obsolete tools and the common us vs. them mentality. Mainframe systems remain crucial for critical business knowledge and back-end support for customer engagement. What are service providers going to do when the mainframe developers retire or move to other positions? We have seen decades of progress on many platforms but in many cases mainframe code is still managed by siloed teams. Even so, things are moving in the right direction to increase and optimize the value stream for the development, deployment and ongoing support for mainframe solutions.

Compuware Corporation, a mainframe-dedicated software company, recently announced far-reaching partnerships, a major acquisition, and continued innovation within its own industry-leading software portfolio—all in support of a game-changing initiative that will empower customers to incorporate mainframe applications into their broader cross-platform Agile/DevOps processes. 

In the Jan 5, 2016 Eweek article Darry K. Taft quotes AppDynamics President and CEO David Wadhwani who said, “At AppDynamics, our goal is to provide enterprise IT with one platform for unified monitoring, DevOps collaboration, and application analytics. 

The approach for adopting a DevOps culture for mainframe software and system solutions is the same as any other industry and begins with getting a clear understanding of the business “Why”. Gleaning from John Kotter’s eight steps “Create a sense of urgency” broadcast it out and keep the momentum going by:

Getting the right people together – ensure core stakeholders are engaged; particularly early adopters who are committed to experimentation and learning.

Get everyone on the same page – seek to understand each other’s perspectives and concerns, determine what outcomes you want to achieve and set measurable goals – be realistic!

Build capabilities that lead to lasting change – use education to introduce a common vocabulary, provide ongoing, just in time training, leverage early adopters and informal networks of peer motivators, build trust through transparency, and generate and celebrate short-term wins.

Focus on critical behaviors - every culture has behaviors that help enable change.

Experiment and learn – prioritize improvement opportunities, take a holistic approach; learn and share vs. mandating.

Consolidate gains and produce more change – in the spirit of transparency, communicate successes, failures and lessons learned. Document and make available reusable artifacts and measurements. Continuously invest in needed education, training and technologies, and expand your cycles of improvement.

And last but not least be a change champion and TAKE ACTION. It’s time to mainstream the mainframe!

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