The Modern Mainframe | Podcast | Modernize Your Mainframe Development Environment | Modern Mainframe Development | Modern IDE
March 26, 2019 DevOps, Mainframe Agility

Why You Need a Better Culture and IDE for Modern Mainframe Development

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Overview: For the second episode of our series “10 Steps to True Mainframe Agility” on The Modern Mainframe podcast, we spoke with Compuware Product Manager Steve Kansa about the second step, Modernize Your Mainframe Development Environment. Here are some highlights from the conversation.


In the first episode of our “10 Steps to True Mainframe Agility” series on The Modern Mainframe podcast, we talked about the importance of initially determining your current and desired states in mainframe development as you start an Agile journey. After that, it’s time to start taking action on modernizing your mainframe development environment. Compuware Product Manager Steve Kansa covered this in the second episode of our series.

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It’s a mistake to assume modernizing your mainframe development environment is as simple as switching out old “green screen” tools for Eclipse. While it’s critical to equip developers with familiar, intuitive solutions that automate tasks, integrate into a modern DevOps toolchain, measure performance and visualize complexities, modernizing your mainframe development environment takes more than technology.

“This isn’t just putting new tools in place and then working in the same processes and the same approach that you’ve done traditionally,” Steve said.

You really need to change the culture, and the best way to do that is to put new processes and new expectations in place to really tackle the company’s tough business challenges.”

Support Better Culture with a Mainframe IDE

During our conversation, Steve highlighted the importance of essentially transforming the mainframe developer experience by changing the way developers work, something Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley has also been underlining lately in his writings. ISPF can’t support this transformation; but an integrated development environment (IDE) can.

“Your IDE is where your developers are going to spend the vast majority of their time, particularly within the new requirements of their jobs. You need IDEs that can perform the tasks that are required for that job,” Steve said.

Empower Every Mainframe Developer

That means implementing an IDE that every mainframe developer—from 30-year experts to day-one entrants—can easily pick up and quickly become productive with. This is critical to empowering next-gen developers to take ownership of the mainframe without having to learn its traditional esoteric intricacies as experts retire.

ISPF Won’t Cut It

But what about developers who have been using ISPF for decades? They’re fast and efficient with the green screen. How could an IDE be a practical alternative for them?

“Even though they may be efficient in editing through ISPF in a particular application, when they’re put against new requirements, they really need the capabilities of the analysis, the ease of use of debugging in a modern IDE, and automated unit testing, which is something that really did not exist on the mainframe until Compuware brought out Topaz for Total Test,” Steve said.

They need to embrace automation and do things in new ways that just really are impossible in the existing tooling they may be familiar with.”

Listen to my interview with Steve for a better understanding of why getting a powerful, modern IDE in place to support cultural change and better processes is essential to modernizing your mainframe development environment.

To read more about step two as well as the other nine steps to achieving true mainframe agility, download our eBook “10 Steps to True Mainframe Agility.” Otherwise, keep an eye out for future episodes in this series where we’ll explore the other steps with Compuware experts.

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Mike Siemasz

Technology Writer at Compuware
Mike Siemasz formerly served Content Strategist and Technology Writer, reporting on culture, processes and tools in relation to DevOps and the mainframe.