Agile | DevOps | Mainframe Agility
May 30, 2019 DevOps, Mainframe Agility

Q&A with Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley

Overview: CEO Chris O’Malley discusses Agile and DevOps on the mainframe and previews what he hopes GSE Nordic Conference attendees will take away from his keynote address.

It’s challenging work to serve as the CEO of a global enterprise software company dedicated to changing the conversation about the mainframe—a conversation essential to transforming its culture, process and tools and imperative to effectively competing in the Age of Software. This position also provides unique opportunities to engage a broad spectrum of experts—from CIOs and other CEOs to IT analysts and the press to development and operations artisans—across a variety of industries.

By constantly crossing paths with these experts—whether they’re customers or fellow technologists and business leaders—Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley is uniquely positioned to learn from and educate others, and ultimately bring that knowledge and experience back to our customers in how we strategically shape the innovative future of the Compuware tools they leverage.

That’s why it’s so important and exciting that Chris is heading to Europe this June to engage with folks in Denmark, Germany, Paris and London. While in Europe, Chris will keynote the GSE Nordic 2019 event on the 11th of June as well as visit with customers and sit down with the press about his and Compuware’s vision for the mainframe in a digital world.

In preparation for his visit, we asked Chris to share some insights in relation to the conversations he’s looking forward to having.

How have customer conversations changed since you became CEO of Compuware in 2014?

In 2014, mainframe teams were loath to abandon their sacrosanct waterfall development methods—the drawn-out, siloed processes; the archaic, clunky tools. Agile and DevOps were still cynically viewed as fads that in time would prove to be no better than existing practices and impossible to achieve when working with mainframe code and data

At the same time, other enterprise business and IT leaders couldn’t see the strategic value of the mainframe in this disruptive Age of Software. They had either convinced themselves to get off the platform or were searching for ways to work around it. The mainframe was left to languish in a dark corner of the data center while distributed teams churned out mobile apps. But that mainframe apathy proved unsustainable. A report we commissioned from Forrester Consulting found all or most customer-facing applications rely on the mainframe at 72% of companies surveyed.

In this digital age, and for all the right reasons, the mainframe isn’t leaving. IT leaders are quickly realizing that they can only be as fast as their slowest digital asset. We’ve begun to see a change in mindset now as more mainframe-powered enterprises realize they can in fact leverage Agile and DevOps on the mainframe if they have the right culture and tools in place to support it. And the examples of success are growing. Countless Compuware customers are now driving unprecedented improvements in software delivery quality, velocity and efficiency on the mainframe, while the organizations that have tried to get off the platform have driven their organizations into a competitive disadvantage.

Mainframe DevOps is real. Mainframe Agile Development is real. But it’s just now that more large enterprises are beginning to believe it and start their mainframe-inclusive DevOps and Agile journeys. Those that don’t believe are quickly becoming outliers. If you aren’t investing in ways to accelerate mainframe software development and delivery, and then you’ll begin to fall behind competitors that are.

Is this change reflected in the media coverage on Enterprise DevOps and Agile methods?

I think we’re seeing the media pivot on this subject. Where once the majority of journalists in IT were being heavily influenced by the “Cloud First” and anti-mainframe mantras of pundits and organizations that wish to witness the demise of the platform, you’re seeing many of the most credible industry voices—, InformationWeek, SD Times—and even mainstream publications like Forbes align their reporting with the reality of mainframe DevOps and Agile.

Again, you’re going to be an outlier if you’re still reporting on the demise of the mainframe come 2020 and beyond. There are just too many success stories giving credence to mainframe DevOps and Agile, where some of the largest enterprises in the world are accomplishing high performance feats on the mainframe in ways that matter to their customers.

What is the biggest misconception about Enterprise DevOps and Agile methods that still prevails?

Even within enterprises that believe in mainframe DevOps and Agile development, too many try to implement these practices in small groups. Agile and DevOps are philosophies, mindsets that must pervade an entire organization. Too many mainframe organizations are afraid to or believe they don’t need to implement DevOps at scale.

The reality is, doing sporadic DevOps with a few people here, a team there, leaves cracks in the foundation for old habits and poor practices to leak back in. If some of your teams are still doing waterfall, they’re going to become bottlenecks for the teams on a DevOps journey. Not only is this going to impact your quality, velocity and efficiency, it’s going to cause infighting as new cultures form in opposition to one another.

You have to get everyone on the same page. You have to be willing to make people uncomfortable and push them to change how they think and work, because the work that must be done has changed in our digital economy, and Agile and DevOps are the only feasible approaches to accomplishing that work with the software delivery quality, velocity and efficiency required in order to get always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied customers the innovation they demand.

What will you be talking about at the GSE Nordic Conference?

On June 11th, I’m going to be talking about what’s required to effectively compete in the digital age. While many organizations understand the importance of Agile and DevOps, and while some are even beginning or on a DevOps journey, most still have little concept of how to build a mainframe-integrated DevOps toolchain and follow through on a journey and get to a point where they’re continuously improving mainframe software delivery quality, velocity and efficiency.

So, in my keynote at GSE, I’ll be sharing actionable steps to make Agile and DevOps work across your enterprise, including personal and objective insights based on what we’ve experienced at Compuware and what we’ve observed in the accomplishments of our most forward-thinking customers.

What is your ultimate goal for the week?

I want people to come away with a newfound confidence and unshakable faith that Agile and DevOps on the mainframe work—and that these philosophies are necessary for organizations to transform their mainframe culture, processes and tools. Mainframe teams will need to adapt their mindsets to accomplish this, and that’s going to be uncomfortable at first. But it’s absolutely necessary, and the results far outweigh any discomfort experienced along the way. It’s a journey, one that Compuware can help you begin or improve.

Chris wants to meet you

If you’re attending GSE Nordic on June 11th, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to hear Chris’s vision for bringing Agile and DevOps to the mainframe as well as meet with him to discuss this critical aspect of a business transformation.

If you can’t catch Chris in Denmark, Germany (June 12th) or Paris (June 13th), he’ll be at DevOps Enterprise Summit in London, June 25-27, where he’ll participate in a compelling and motivating DevOps Fireside Chat with Gene Kim. Otherwise, Chris is always available for questions and comments on LinkedIn, where you can easily connect with him.