August 15, 2019 Mainframe Agility

Can You Feel the Urgency Today?

Overview: Missed Chris O’Malley’s keynote address at the 2019 GSE Nordic Conference?
Find out what he had to say and get a few tips on modernizing on the mainframe with Agile and DevOps.

This isn’t a Disney tune that asks a question about your feelings, but it is posed with a great deal of passion about the state of your business.

Is your company keeping pace with all the rest?

Business is on the edge of a precipice—actually, we’ve been there—and now is time to hold on and move ambitiously before your company falls into the chasm of “Company What?” below.

Consider this

A couple of months ago, Compuware released our 19th consecutive quarter of new capabilities, upgrades to classic offerings, integrations with leading DevOps tools, and improvements to our customer experience. A few weeks before that, at the 2019 GSE Nordic Conference, Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley shared his thoughts on why businesses need to change the way they see the mainframe and the developers who support it. What follows are highlights of O’Malley’s keynote address. If his words were put to music, you’d want to know them by heart.

Why change the mainframe?

About 93% of CIOs say the mainframe will be around for the next decade or even longer, so why turn it into something else? The mainframe has a long-term presence, but according to Forrester Research and Gartner it needs to keep pace—evolve and adapt—for new world of work.

Forrester has had a more “progressive” philosophy and has been advocating Agile and DevOps on the mainframe platform for a while. Gartner was slower in coming to that realization, thinking if the mainframe was sealed in its own culture, processes and tools it would eventually fade away. However, having the mainframe disappear would serve no one—most importantly customers—as these systems could never neatly disappear even with open systems or the cloud. The good news is that Gartner eventually came to the same conclusion as Forrester and Compuware: What’s essential to business is mainframe modernization.

Developers should be treated like high performance athletes.

Status quo is a killer

The mainframe is known primarily for maintenance and defect work, not innovation or launching new features. That’s changing. According to O’Malley, developers should be treated like high-performance athletes. Developers are the ones who can help your organization achieve success at its core because they’re going to make or break the capacity for change and growth in a company’s business model—thus helping them compete better in today’s world. O’Malley says people in business need “…to start looking at these [DevOps] people with love, and care, and kindness.” You’ve got to start expecting more from them. They don’t just write code. With the right vision and empowerment, DevOps can know more about your customers and be able to bring the right software services to life. That software is key to your success today because we engage so many ways digitally. Since the speed of doing business has increased, software innovation, delivery, quality and efficiency must change.

More opportunities

Because of all the possibilities the digital arena affords, companies can grow into different business areas, like Apple® getting into the credit card business and Amazon® venturing into healthcare. Companies can do this because of the mainframe and innovative software that enable greater speed to be proactive—not just respond, lower costs and improve quality. Long-standing credit card and health insurance companies, as well as many other industries, need to be vigilant about new competition.

Businesses can avoid a last-minute panic that may come if corporate and mainframe transformation isn’t embraced in a substantial way. You want to be the person who has the life jacket on and is swimming, not the person looking for a lifeboat.

O’Malley has good advice about how companies can transform challenges into opportunities:

  1. Embrace a growth mindset where developers continue to work on their portion of a set of code, focus on maintenance, defect work and backlog, know the customer and create new features. Since features are what customers are most interested in; time and energy need to be put into this area NOW and FAST. Complacency, resistance to change and management reluctance to invest in the mainframe, are all obstacles to be overcome. If these issues are addressed, and DevOps is supported and grown, the results will be offering customers more of what they want.
  2. Know your ABCsAlways Be thinking of the Customer! If you know your customers, then you’ll know what their needs are and will be thinking of ways to serve them. Compuware has a Customer Advisory Council and we invite them to come in, share our ideas with them, get their feedback and essentially make them a partner in what we’re working on for them. It helps us keep our priorities straight and ensures we’re addressing the right needs.
  3. Get gritty, be successful. You need to be a passionate, relentless warrior who isn’t afraid to go into battle for something new. Sometimes you’ll be triumphant. Other times, you’ll fall off your horse, but you’ll learn to get back on and what to do differently next time you charge ahead. What’s important is the direction, the attempt, the planning and testing, learning, and not giving up.
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A blend of opinions & news from mainframe thought leaders on topics like DevOps, Agile development, code quality, data, security and COBOL.