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z/OS Continuous Delivery

May 3, 2016

With the adoption of software development methodologies such as Agile, consumers have come to expect new solutions and product updates to come at a much faster pace. This same expectation now exists for business applications that rely upon mobile computing, cloud storage, real-time analytics and other emerging technologies.

This presents a unique set of demands for z/OS, DB2 and CICS environments. How can these new features be introduced into the maintenance stream in a few weeks rather than a few months? A new IBM Redbook, “IBM z/OS Continuous Delivery,” examines this process.

The image below is taken from the Redbook. It shows how continuous delivery can be introduced to z/OS V2.2 either through a small programming enhancement (SPE) or a recommended service unit (RSU), which will include all maintenance fixes as well as all SPEs.


The challenge I see in implementing continuous delivery capabilities comes in earning the trust of long-time z/OS systems programmers. We understand that the value of z/OS systems lies in their availability. For most mainframe environments, any kind of outage is simply unacceptable. Adding new features to a generally available release is typically frowned upon due to potential stability issues. Except for maintenance, IT managers in traditional z/OS environments generally don't allow anything new into their production environments. New features or new software versions are installed only after rigorous testing in isolated sandbox environments. New products are tested in development before being installed in the integration/quality assurance environment. Nothing reaches production until everyone signs off. This process can take months, or even up to a full calendar year.

The IBM Redpaper offers techniques that IBM development is using to maintain quality and stability throughout accelerated development cycles. From what I have read, I believe this is a well-thought out process that suits z/OS environments. Change is always hard, but I'm convinced that delivering value to customers more quickly does not have to come at the expense of careful testing and planning.

Has your organization started taking advantage of IBM z/OS continuous delivery? Have you modified your change control procedures to move faster? Please share your experiences in comments.

Posted May 3, 2016| Permalink

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