June 1, 2017 DevOps, Mainframe Agility

How One Insurance Company Is Transitioning Its Mainframe to DevOps

Digital transformation is impacting a variety of businesses, including within mature industries like insurance where some enterprises have existed for over a century.

Des Moines-based The IMT Group is one such company that is working hard to improve what they do “digitally with and for their customers,” IMT Senior Manager of IT Travis McAlpin said in a case study around how IMT is unifying mainframe and non-mainframe DevOps while re-platforming select applications.

To accomplish its digital transformation mission, IMT began a mainframe transition that includes two main objectives: 1) Re-platforming specific applications and 2) forging cross-platform DevOps between its mainframe and non-mainframe teams to enable innovation of new customer-facing technologies of engagement that depend on the mainframe as their back-end. However, IMT anticipated challenges related to both objectives.

For one, before re-platforming specific mainframe applications, IMT needed to analyze those programs to find “dead code,” unused parts of applications that still exist in source code. There’s no point in re-platforming dead code because it isn’t going to be used. For another, to create cross-platform enterprise DevOps, IMT needed to make it easy for developers from both environments to collaborate regularly, which means developers with little mainframe experience must be able to understand old, complex, poorly-documented mainframe programs.

Providing deeper visibility of mainframe program structures and runtime behaviors would enable IMT developers to carry out both transformation objectives.

IMT also recruits developers from the local community college’s mainframe curriculum. Recent grads are more likely to work for companies whose mainframe teams are using modern tools that resemble the familiar, intuitive design and capabilities of distributed tools. Adopting tools that provide better mainframe application visibility can help those efforts.

Retooling to Transition

Already a Compuware customer for around 20 years, IMT was equipped with tools like Xpediter, making it easy for developers to debug code, and File-AID, enabling developers to ensure IMT’s mainframe applications tap into the appropriate DB2 data.

However, IMT still needed a solution that would provide better visibility of its mainframe environment to achieve the two objectives.

Here is where Compuware’s Topaz suite—including Topaz Workbench, Topaz for Enterprise Data and Topaz for Program Analysis—would help. It provides a highly intuitive graphical environment for writing and reviewing code; understanding the behavior of that code in production; and understanding the relationship between different applications and data sources across the mainframe environment.

“When my team first talked to me about Topaz, I thought it was little more than just a pretty interface for the same old thing.” McAlpin said. “But now that I see how our developers are using it and how it is affecting their work processes, I have to say that its graphical tools are really helping to bring our two development worlds together.”

To learn how IMT has been using Topaz to accomplish its mainframe transformation goals and what results the insurance company has seen, read the case study.