Sponsored content from Broadcom
Mainframe organizations are facing a generational shift in their workforce. Career mainframers are retiring, ceding responsibility for mission-essential applications to a new generation of developers. These modern developers have built their skills around the DevOps model for productivity, delivery velocity and code quality. They have the talent, skills, and savvy to take mainframe DevOps to the skies — but forcing them to use traditional mainframe tools may sometimes keep them grounded.
Mainframe developers have traditionally used native source code managers like CA Endevor and editors like the green screens of ISPF or, more recently, Eclipse. While these tools have served mainframe shops admirably for decades, the next generation of developers also knows and loves other tools. Today, 87% of developers use Git with its decentralized, collaboration-centric paradigm. And with its “any language, any platform” design, 14 million developers use the Visual Studio Code IDE. Features like syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, and embedded Git make it a new standard, as does the ability to tailor the environment to specific preferences. Empowering modern developers with these tools on the mainframe is critical to propelling your business forward.
Getting Off the Ground
Open source tools give next-generation developers a variety of flight options to take your mainframe DevOps environment to new heights. First in the lineup is Zowe, which enables DevOps teams to securely manage, control, script, and develop on the mainframe like any other cloud platform. It facilitates the seamless integration of the mainframe with other platforms from a DevSecOps perspective. The Zowe framework offers industry-standard REST APIs, an API mediation layer, an extensible command line interface (CLI), and an extensible web-based user interface (UI) framework.
Next on the runway is Code4z, which enables users of VS Code, Eclipse Che, and other modern, VS Code-compatible IDEs to work with the mainframe as easily as any other platform. It provides Language Server Protocol (LSP) extensions for COBOL and High Level Assembler and an integrated Debug Adapter Protocol (DAP) extension so developers can program in multiple languages without leaving the environment, even when submitting JCL. Code4z also includes the COBOL Control Flow extension that enables new-to-mainframe staff to navigate complex, monolithic applications with ease.
Up next is CA Endevor Bridge for Git, which enables developers to use enterprise Git servers (e.g., GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket, or Azure DevOps). Bridge for Git keeps changes in a cloned Git branch in sync with the main repo in Endevor. This option eliminates the risks and costs of code migration, as well as any disruption to career mainframers using Endevor natively. It also opens the door to Git-native IDEs like Visual Studio Code. The combination of VS Code and Git is a powerful combination for the next generation and, by adding CA Endevor Team Build, they can even do their own builds.
Of key importance, all these tools enable mainframe teams to modernize in-place, without lifting and shifting code and disrupting the workflows of existing developers (who can continue to use mainframe-native tools they know and love). They are also easily automated through existing enterprise CI/CD toolchains, which typically include components for code quality, test automation, and task running (toolchains familiar to the next generation).
A Fantastic Flight Path
Enabling developers to easily use their favorite tools to work on mainframe applications delivers significant business benefits:
- Improved Productivity. Critical enhancements to mission-essential applications and fixes can be coded, tested, and deployed in a reliable and timely fashion by both traditional and next-generation developers. Leverage DevOps automation to optimize mainframe software delivery as easily as for other platforms.
- Increased Competitiveness. For many companies, the mainframe hosts critical system-of-record applications and data, while cloud and mobile applications have become user-oriented systems of experience. Cross-platform apps combine modern user experiences with the transactional power and data assets of mainframes. Open source tooling facilitates this business-critical, cross-platform application development.
- Freedom to Innovate. Historically, the mainframe platform has operated within a vendor-focused model. Open source provides mainframe teams with increased vendor independence and problem-solving options. For example, Zowe opens access to off-platform tools in a highly secure and community-managed way.
- Reduced Costs. The need to reduce costs is an ongoing challenge. From tools rationalization to shift left quality to right-sized provisioning, DevOps offers mainframe teams many ways to reduce costs. For example, catching a defect late in the SDLC (i.e., Software Development Life Cycle, not Synchronous Data Link Control) costs 640 times more than catching it early (during coding) with seamless test automation.
Simulate Flight in the Developer Cockpit
Modernizing mainframe AppDev through open source tooling is a fresh experience for many. To demystify the new toolchain, Broadcom created an interactive simulator called the Developer Cockpit. Featuring Visual Studio Code, Zowe, and Git, the Developer Cockpit simulates a realistic environment for a COBOL/CICS/Batch/Db2 developer, complete with relevant VS Code extensions, Zowe CLI plug-ins, and sample scripts. The simulator provides visibility into the holistic experience and the open source enablers behind the scenes. Through the Developer Cockpit, you can see how modernization can power up your mainframe DevOps initiatives.
Mainframe DevOps is more than ready for takeoff. Your business no longer has to be held back by a mainframe skills shortage or legacy tools and processes. You can hire the best talent and give them the options they need to get the job done — quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively. From daily operations to groundbreaking innovation, modernization makes the mainframe a greater asset for your business than ever before. The sky's the limit!
Peter Wassel is the Director of Product Management for the DevOps and Open Mainframe solutions at Broadcom Inc. In this role, Peter partners with clients to realize the value of their investment in the Mainframe by leveraging modern development practices and open tooling, to further their innovation.