“Topaz seemed too good to be true.”
– Jolene Olivier, Standard Bank
In recent years, Standard Bank—a major international financial services group based in South Africa—has focused on driving Agile, DevOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) to grow strategic digital, digitization, infrastructure and application software engineering capabilities.
The front-end digitization depends on distributed systems, but the core of Standard Bank’s portfolio—including corporate and private banking, among other interests—sits on the mainframe, where it accounts for 80 percent of processing. As the system of record, it’s also the foundation for much of the bank’s frontend digital transformation.
Hence, “The focus has shifted from the associated cost and esoteric nature of the platform to its sustainability, based on attrition and retention of mainframe skills, as well as its maintainability through automation of software development practices,” Jolene Olivier said. Olivier is responsible for driving the execution of the CI/CD strategy at Standard Bank.
As Standard Bank’s digital transformation process matured, the mainframe had to be repositioned to mitigate risks between it and the rest of the Agile and DevOps framework supporting CI/CD. There were several cultural, process-related and tooling impediments to integrating the mainframe into that framework.
The mainframe organization needed to evolve from maintaining applications to innovating and updating them in support of front-end digitization. “Modernizing the platform—through secure extensibility into market-leading software development tools; automation of software development processes; and providing the associated tools to confidently restructure and improve the overall maintainability of inherently complex programs—would strategically support opening up the mainframe to less-experienced application developers familiar with CI/CD development practices,” Olivier said.
To modernize applications, Standard Bank needed a modern, intuitive tool to package and extend development, testing and delivery best practices, like code-quality standards and testing guidelines, across the mainframe organization. This would:
Standard Bank was already using core Compuware DevOps solutions, including:
However, there were still toolchain gaps preventing a complete mainframe integration into the cross-platform CI/CD pipeline, thereby constraining mainframe-dependent digital transformation. In particular, the bank faced serious issues with its source code management (SCM) tool.
Some of the major issues Standard Bank faced with its existing SCM tool included:
To solve these challenges, Standard Bank implemented Compuware Topaz—a suite of mainframe development and testing tools—and Compuware ISPW—an Agile SCM, Release Automation and Deployment Automation tool.
With Topaz, Standard Bank made significant improvements to:
Automation and Governance
“Topaz seemed too good to be true,” Olivier said. “After the initial demo and review of the workbench, we were pleasantly surprised at how much of the enhancement requests we raised in the initial demo session were included in Compuware’s next quarterly release.
The Topaz suite, including Topaz Workbench, Compuware’s Eclipse-based IDE, “embedded years of technical proficiency and automated the best possible way of doing things on the mainframe,” she said, enabling the mainframe team to automate several of its manual development processes as well as improve governance of best practices.
DevOps Toolchain Extensibility
Topaz Workbench also improved Standard Bank’s DevOps toolchain extensibility. The bank’s core Compuware development tools plug into Topaz Workbench, making them accessible through a single, intuitive development interface.
Standard Bank favored ISPW, even over notable distributed SCM tools with mainframe capabilities, because it naturally integrated with Topaz Workbench to facilitate the extensibility of Standard Bank’s DevOps toolchain. ISPW could also leverage Topaz Workbench integrations with cross-platform DevOps tools, including SonarSource SonarLint for automated on-the-fly QA and SonarQube, a dashboard for tracking defects, complexity and technical debt—two code quality tools Olivier was set on implementing.
Code Visibility and Collaboration
ISPW enables concurrent development and encourages collaboration through features like alerts when developers check out code. Developers can see versions of a program at multiple points in the lifecycle to ensure smooth code integrations and graphical relationship visualizations guide users to failure points.
ISPW eliminates manual steps so developers can easily compile, promote and deploy programs for testing in Xpediter through Topaz Workbench.
The ISPW Deploy web interface lets developers see the status of deploy requests and the environments into which code was deployed. Developers can rollback some or all code changes at once and replace the current production program
with a valid previous program version. Production source is synchronized with the fallback so versions always match.
Olivier says, thanks in part to Topaz and ISPW, Standard Bank’s mainframe team is “introducing Agile at scale, and it actually works. We’ve seen a massive improvement where we’ve rolled out ISPW and Topaz to the rate and level of quality at which we deploy changes.”
Using Compuware’s ISPW SCM Migration Service, Standard Bank installed ISPW and
facilitated the source code migration of:
“The objective was to facilitate the migration in such a way that we would not disrupt any application of infrastructural services or any work in progress within the existing SCM,” Olivier said. “We were able to successfully install the software and utilize the baseline capability of the application without introducing any historical
This made Standard Bank’s ISPW implementation one of the most successfully executed initiatives in the organization, with some of the executives and software engineers, jokingly inquiring about using the services of the migration team to
facilitate other enterprise-scale initiatives.
Olivier says 90 percent of the execution leveraged the technical expertise and proficiency of the infrastructural and application software engineers in collaboration with the Compuware technical team. One of the major contributors to the overall success was the autonomy given to the “guys on the ground” to effectively execute
their vision in terms of building a sustainable platform.
Standard Bank’s DevOps initiative has given mainframe developers, who for many years heard the platform is dying, a sense of abiding value. They now understand the mainframe must become maintainable for next-generation developers, and it can with Compuware tools that are allowing the mainframe team to continuously improve.
“In the past, we were given a toolset upgrade every two years that wouldn’t significantly change how we did things. That’s what Compuware tools have allowed us to do,” Olivier said.
“It has been very interesting to see how the mainframe market has begun to transition to a more Agile approach to manage the rapidly evolving nature of software development and customer needs. When we began our journey, there was no real
point of reference or thought leadership from an executive standpoint in the market— other than Chris O’ Malley’s advocacy and viability of introducing Agile and DevOps practices on the platform.”
In commending Compuware’s receptiveness to feedback, customer centricity and unwavering commitment to driving automation engineering and DevOps best practices, Olivier urged others to take a closer look, recalling her visit to Compuware’s Detroit office:
“The intent was to understand how the cultural transition was facilitated at Compuware in terms of building cross-platform engineering teams.”
“One of the first things I noticed during the initial evaluation was that whoever developed the Topaz Workbench Eclipse-based IDE had an in-depth understanding of software engineering practices on the mainframe and the associated challenges as well as an understanding of software development tools traditionally used in the distributed and open-systems community.”
“I was very intrigued to meet these software developers. I initially expected software engineers on life support to walk through the door and was completely surprised at the young talent that did.” This is testament to Compuware’s commitment to becoming the world’s leading mainframe-dedicated software company—exclusively committed to customers’ next-generation mainframe challenges and opportunities. The delivery of products centered around the progressive needs of customers is a testament to that commitment.