Compuware Customer Advisory Council | Scottsdale, Arizona
March 6, 2018 Workforce

Three Signs Mainframe Customers Are Making Modernization Progress

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In just two years, Compuware’s annual North American Customer Advisory Council (CAC) has grown to accommodate over sixty customers who use the mainframe as their irreplaceable core system of record. But the number of invited attendees isn’t the only thing growing; so are customers’ ideas and their success in adopting more mainstream culture, processes and tools.

Customers agree these changes will enable their mainframe teams to play a vital role in the digital transformation of their organizations, ultimately to better serve their own customers. This was clear at the 2018 CAC in Scottsdale, AZ, an exclusive three-day event where we met with specific customers from around North America to provide them with all the advantages of attending one of these councils, including:

  • Interactive discussions and demonstrations
  • Networking with peers
  • Engagement with Compuware executives and product managers
  • Opportunities to influence Compuware’s roadmap

Where Forward-thinking Mainframe Shops Stand

Through listening to and conversing with customers in Scottsdale, three encouraging points came to light that help explain where forward-thinking mainframe shops stand in the tumult of a rapidly changing digital landscape.

1. They are committed and engaged.

The sheer number of customers in attendance at Scottsdale’s CAC was a testament to how many are seeing the value in partnering with Compuware. And through that participation, a testament to their commitment and engagement was their willingness to ask tough questions that help us recognize things we should reconsider or that help us confirm we’re on the right track.

In the last three-to-four years, there has been a drastic shift in how we serve our customers, and the same can be said of those customers when you consider how willing they are to help us design and build the right innovations. Their eye for quality and desire to provide honest feedback are manifest in every minute detail of our products.

2. They do Agile Development and want DevOps on the mainframe.

Two years ago, Agile Development on the mainframe was in a nascent state, and it still is for many organizations. However, many customers are now practicing Agile Development or variations of it on the mainframe, and they’re succeeding with those implementations.

Even for those in the early stages of implementing better development practices, most in attendance at the Scottsdale CAC, from systems programmers to high-level IT and business decision-makers, agreed the mainframe world can and must improve by shifting to:

Customers were sharing their stories around these transitions in multiple ways, from in-depth conversations to enlightening presentations. In these presentations, some of our most forward-thinking customers explained their ongoing transformations from Waterfall to Agile with the end-state goal of DevOps, including the reasons behind those transformations, the challenges they’re facing, what toolchains they’re building and how important it is for the mainframe to be included in digital initiatives.

While many customers aren’t at the DevOps pivot point yet, what matters is they realize the need for change and they understand what their end state should be. They want to change their culture, processes and tools, to mainstream the mainframe and make it easier for the system of record their companies depends on to better integrate with and support their businesses.

3. Code is code—they want to harmonize it.

For how often we hear mainframe naysayers decry COBOL as a dead language, our customers don’t buy it. Even the Java pros who got their first taste of COBOL as recently as a few months ago agree: building great front-end software can quickly become a “Hollywood façade” if the mainframe is left in its silo and can’t support that innovation, as one customer new to the mainframe put it.

Another customer who is leading the DevOps transformation across mainframe and non-mainframe systems at their organization was quick to say they “don’t care if it’s C, C++, C#, COBOL, .Net—it all just needs to be harmonized.”

To do this, these customers, and others in similar states of transformation, are building their cross-platform DevOps toolchains to include modern mainframe tools as well as non-mainframe DevOps strongholds like Jenkins, SonarSource SonarQube and XebiaLabs XL Release. With these integrations in place, their teams are driving new processes with more ease and with more success.

Customers Want Change

Real change can take a long time, and as many customers who attended the Scottsdale CAC have learned, changing from the status quo of Waterfall on the mainframe to a faster, more efficient state of agility can be as hard as learning to ride a bike that points you in the opposite direction. However, change can be accomplished on the mainframe—and many more customers are deciding they want to.

For those wondering where to start, check out our eBook “Ten Steps to True Mainframe Agility” for recommendations of top DevOps tools to use and success indicators that will help you measure your progress throughout your journey.

Ten Steps to True Mainframe Agility

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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.