Mainframe modernization
September 26, 2016 COBOL, Mainframe Agility

U.S. Congressmen Witness Mainframe Modernization

As congressional members of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Congressman Tim Walberg earnestly wish to transform the way our government uses technology, and are committed to investigating and understanding innovative yet cost-effective means to securing the utmost benefits for Americans. Today, the congressmen, joined by their wives Julie Chaffetz and Sue Walberg, spent the morning learning about the Agile culture, processes and tools that drive mainframe innovation at Compuware and elsewhere.

As the most accountable and secure computing platform available to enterprises and federal IT, the mainframe still faces contempt from industry pundits who underestimate its value and have continually taken unwarranted liberties in predicting its demise. Unfortunately, the mainframe also faces unintentional misjudgment from those who may be unfamiliar with the defined line between outdated, obsolete legacy IT systems worth replacing, and historical yet high-performing IT systems worth preserving and modernizing.

To learn more about the mainframe’s role in modern IT, Chairman Chaffetz—and Congressman Walberg for a second time—heard the story of Compuware’s journey towards becoming the most innovative mainframe software company in the digital era, and witnessed real aspects of mainframe modernization in action.

A Will to Learn

After Congressman Walberg’s August visit to Compuware’s world headquarters in downtown Detroit, nearby Michigan’s 7th Congressional District which he represents, it was a privilege to welcome him a second time not two months later, when once again he exemplified an eagerness to learn more about how Compuware is driving innovation, both internally and for their customers. Enthusiasm over his return was heightened by the accompaniment of Chairman Chaffetz.

After serving as starting placekicker for Brigham Young University for the ’88-89 season, Chairman Chaffetz went on to spend 16 years in corporate communications before owning his own firm.

Today, as Chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee; a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet; and a member of the Congressional Internet Caucus, Chairman Chaffetz has rallied a cultivation of character and leadership to uphold principles of accountability and security of citizens, including in relation to technology.

Witnessing Mainframe Modernization

During his visit, it was evident Chairman Chaffetz saw something unexpected. A stroll around Compuware’s headquarters illuminated the mainframe modernization occurring there, and gave him a chance to witness the mainframe software company’s ability to innovate the platform by enabling:

  • Two-platform IT: Visiting Compuware’s x86-less data center, Chairman Chaffetz witnessed the collaboration between cloud and mainframe, and learned how it can be a cost-effective solution that enables the reallocation of funds for investment in mainframe innovation. Chairman Chaffetz learned that by moving to this strategy, Compuware freed up $1 million of its annual revenue to devote to modernizing the mainframe without additional costs, rather than investing it in server overhead.
  • Agile development: Chairman Chaffetz witnessed Agile (aka incremental) development being done on the mainframe by participating in two Scrum meetings—a sprint planning meeting and a sprint standup meeting—that proved the feasibility of developing in two-week sprints on a platform historically relegated to slow, legacy processes. Chairman Chaffetz also heard Compuware’s story of producing a breakthrough product in just 84 days—a feat that normally would consume 12-18 months—and learned Compuware has since delivered net-new functionality on a quarterly basis every 90 days because of its ability to implement mainframe agility.
  • Millennial developers: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of mainframe modernization Chairman Chaffetz witnessed in the Scrum meetings was the presence of millennial developers collaborating with decades-experienced developers to produce innovative ideas and bring them to fruition every 90 days. After leaving the meetings to stop by one millennial’s work station, Chairman Chaffetz witnessed the developer using Compuware Topaz Workbench, a modern Eclipse-based IDE for mainframe development created by Compuware to help the next generation comprehend mainframe applications and data. As Chairman Chaffetz learned, millennials are moving toward the mainframe and see it as a viable career as they realize the platform is vital to supporting our global digital economy.

Today’s visit from Chairman Chaffetz and Congressman Walberg exemplified the time commitment they have to investigating and understanding technology issues the Federal Government faces. Compuware was privileged to have an opportunity to represent how issues like stagnation and apathy can be demolished and replaced with innovation through Agile and DevOps, even on the mainframe.

Photo: Jason Heien