Compuware Topaz on AWS
March 8, 2018 DevOps, Mainframe Agility

Your Biggest Questions About Topaz on AWS Answered Here

At Compuware’s recent Customer Advisory Council (CAC) in Scottsdale, we fielded several challenging questions from attendees about Compuware Topaz on AWS (Amazon Web Services). As one of the primary solution architects behind this new offering, it’s an initiative I’m really excited about, as it serves as a quasi-software-as-a-service architecture for the Compuware Topaz Workbench IDE.

While we answered every question as best we could in Scottsdale, I thought it would be helpful to provide an overview of the initiative and revisit some of the concerns and curiosities our customers had after getting a deep dive on Topaz on AWS at the CAC.

What Is Topaz on AWS?

Topaz on AWS addresses a pain point many of our customers encounter. It can take upwards of six to 12 months to receive, install, upgrade and deploy a distributed software package to thousands of users, but with Topaz on AWS we look to change this status quo.

We are providing single-instance administration of Topaz, templates to help and aid in the deployment of tens, hundreds, or thousands of Topaz Workbench IDEs that can be accessed by developers via a modern web browser.

Leveraging the power of AWS AppStream technology, Compuware has cut the time to deploy Topaz Workbench to a single day by containerizing and reducing Topaz Workbench into streaming pixels that can be delivered to any mainframe developer globally.

When we combine the horsepower of Amazon’s AppStream technology and seed it with the backend power of the mainframe, we truly have the epitome of what we call Two-platform IT, leveraging the mainframe and cloud together at one speed. With this solution, we are evangelizing—and trailblazing—the modernization of mainframe environments.

Who Benefits from Topaz on AWS?

Topaz on AWS is evolving two end-user experiences: for system administrators and for developers. AppStream and Topaz are two platforms that underpin a customer-experience-centric solution that serves the needs of both roles.

System Administrators

Topaz system administrators now have access to single-instance administration and the ability to deploy any number of Topaz Workbench instances for use by a distributed workforce that can sit almost anywhere on the planet. Amazon AppStream has coverage in North America, Europe and Asia, with nodes filling any gaps coming online soon.

We are helping admins take their first steps into the cloud by leveraging another of Amazon’s technologies, CloudFormation. We have created a template that describes the base AWS resources Topaz Workbench needs, and CloudFormation then stitches the Amazon cloud fabric together to build a highly automatic and reliable infrastructure that supports thousands of concurrent developers.

Admins don’t need to individually create and configure AWS resources and figure out what is dependent on what; CloudFormation handles that for them. Mainframe development organizations are now enabled with a safe cloud-ready solution that is easy to work with, experiment with and manage. Topaz on AWS in its template form grants the capability to customize a variety of network and infrastructure options to meet growing organizational needs.


From a developer perspective, the only requirement to get started is a modern HTML5 web-browser. Developers now have near-instant access to a cloud-based IDE and core Compuware products that live on the mainframe in one browser tab.

While the initiative’s focus is Topaz, it is important to note that developers will also have access to our partner software packages like Jenkins, XebiaLabs and any other DevOps toolchain investment that lives on premises or is native to the cloud.

Diagram of the Topaz on AWS architecture

Diagram of the Topaz on AWS architecture

What Makes Topaz on AWS So Special?

The value of this solution is in the template DNA and our relationship with AWS. Over the past few years, Amazon has supported hundreds of cloud migrations, and with each a unique architecture was born.

Over time the framework was built and used internally to help train and develop Amazon Solution Architects, and it now also serves as a guide for any self-serving customer of AWS. Compuware has followed Amazon’s Well-Architected framework and worked with Amazon Solution Architects to inject this intelligence it into our Topaz on AWS templates. Here’s what you’re getting:

1. Security: Protect Your Cloud Investment

Security is the largest concern of customers, so I’ll address this first. We are providing a separate network-only template that defines the topology in which Topaz will live. It is designed with least-access privileges from the start, so this network will act as a datacenter extension that is private to you and no one else.

We provide a starting point that can be opened and expanded as necessary. Once the network is defined, Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) model will help protect the development environment. Other than a few IDE preferences and settings, all data and source code continues to reside on the mainframe.

Amazon is using some of the latest HTTPS and SSL technologies to encrypt AppStream’s pixelated version of Topaz. Amazon practices a cloud responsibility model and makes sure network connections to AppStream are highly secure. A customer can also elect to enable multi-factor authentication when leveraging AppStream and Topaz’s advanced sign-on features to federate users within their mainframe development environments.

2. Reliability, Performance and Operational Efficiency

Reliability, performance and operational efficiency are also customized in the CloudFormation templates we are providing. We want to make sure the Topaz developer experience is just as good or better than if it were installed locally. Even though a developer can be thousands of miles away from the executable living in Amazon’s datacenter, the latency has been negligible.

However, cloud deployments are prone to error as a result of different methodologies led by different personnel driving thousands of configuration clicks and decisions. This all adds up to a death-by-backlog and lost productivity hours, effectively reducing the velocity, efficiency and quality of a mainframe development organization.

To solve this, Topaz on AWS can be deployed to any AWS region that supports AppStream technology, so the network and supporting infrastructure are cloned at a global scale, follow a repeatable best-practice methodology and can be stored and tracked as code. It’s Operations nirvana when 300 lines of code can support a global development workforce of thousands.

3. Cost Optimization

Only paying for what you need is critical to any cloud-based deployment. Because AWS bills sometimes have more commas than you want to count, we have embedded auto scale-out policies that grow when a customer encounters a rising-demand scenario. We are also helping with the scale-in policies and automatically turning the Topaz lights off when the environments are not needed during the night.

A Developer-driven Solution

It’s the year of DevOps for the mainframe, and we know that large enterprises, our customers and prospects, must equip development teams with a developer-driven solution that enables Agile best-practices to co-exist with core mainframe systems of record. We’re enabling that through Topaz on AWS. Now that you have more insight into this new offering, watch a demo to see it in action.


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