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IBM’s Integrated Solution for System z Streamlines Software Delivery


Mainframe enterprise application developers face a host of challenges when seeking to develop and test multiplatform software applications. Customers expect to interact and do business through any means they choose, which might require rapid, cost-effective transformation of applications that oftentimes have been created through years of development investment.

Delivering innovative software within the time frame business demands requires sufficient, skilled resources. As experienced mainframe developers retire and new talent joins the team, it’s important to enable these members to quickly make accurate updates to business-critical applications.

One strategy forward-thinking companies employ is to build what is essentially an application-delivery factory, an environment in which development efforts are coordinated and automated.

Fortunately, IBM has a solution for enterprise application developers. The IBM Integrated Solution for System z* Development is an automated environment for mainframe development that enables organizations to more easily implement applications containing IBM System z and zEnterprise* components.

This solution can improve the speed of software delivery, increase the accuracy of change, and allow teams to move quickly across projects that use multiple languages, systems and application runtime environments. To make that possible, it supports CICS* technology, the IMS* database management system, DB2* and IBM WebSphere* Application Server software for efficient development of mainframe and cross-platform applications. It provides an environment for change management, analysis, development, team collaboration, unit testing and configuration management of mainframe software.

 

Some Assembly Required

Successful enterprise application development efforts start with clear, definable and quantifiable goals. These can include:

  • Increasing velocity of software delivery
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving accuracy
  • Responding more quickly to requirements
  • Enabling the organization to better adapt to marketplace or regulatory changes
  • Making better use of internal skills—or addressing the lack thereof
  • Enhancing overall agility

Whatever the effort’s specific goals are, the first steps toward achieving them are to crystallize a vision of where you want to be, and then assemble and deploy the most effective tools and processes for bringing that vision to life.

What’s needed is appropriate and flexible project-planning tools. These should enable you to track the work being done, and find out where additional support might be needed—even before the development staff asks for that help. Code-management capabilities should allow you to coordinate the efforts surrounding contributing, reviewing and approving code creation for a shared-release development environment. Modern tools to efficiently edit, compile and debug code are required. And you’ll need application lifecycle management tools that provide automated enforcement of agreed-upon development policies and processes, as well as a testing environment that quickly and inexpensively resolves issues. Finally, you’ll want to create an environment that enables flexible testing so you can provide quicker feedback to development team members about the quality of changes and enhancements they create.

Many organizations don’t have these types of tools in place or the expertise to efficiently create them. And because many of these processes have traditionally been performed manually, the time frames required for software delivery can be excessive, which delays deployment of new or enhanced services, and can significantly impede an organization’s competitiveness.

 

Application-Delivery Factory

One strategy forward-thinking companies employ is to build what is essentially an application-delivery factory, an environment in which development efforts are coordinated and automated. Within this environment, individuals’ knowledge, expertise and innovation are leveraged and combined with automated processes so that human input, such as code creation, can be utilized to run application components in the shortest possible time.

An analogy can be drawn to a manufacturing assembly line where operators oversee the automated elements, making adjustments as necessary but leaving the mundane chores to the automated processes, such as myriad administrative tasks surrounding development, starting and stopping builds or running the same set of tests repeatedly. This gives staff more time to devote to high-value activities, such as coding, creating new test cases and innovating.

 

The Solution in Action

Consider the following hypothetical situation: A multinational financial organization is seeking to improve its customer experience and boost profitability. As part of its application-modernization efforts, which include making additional account-management operations available directly to customers, it plans to mask account numbers for security reasons. Because customers can manage accounts online on their devices of choice, the project will require modifications to existing COBOL code for character-based access, as well as to the current Java* code for Web access.

Internal players, including the team leader, a business analyst, and COBOL and Java developers, will be involved in the project. They use IBM Integrated Solution for System z Development to orchestrate and implement the needed modifications. The following represents the steps the team could follow in making required changes:

Tim Hahn is a distinguished engineer at IBM and has been with the company for 20 years. He is the chief architect for enterprise-modernization tools within the IBM Software Group Rational organization, where he’s responsible for strategy, architecture and design. Tim can be reached at hahnt@us.ibm.com.


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