Mainframe DevOps – the debate continues

The recent hugely positive SHARE event, on one of the hottest topics in enterprise IT today, DevOps, took centre stage. Regular contributor Derek Britton reflects on the discussions.

Coming Together

The digital era is forcing organizations to meet customer demand faster than ever. Delivering better IT faster is at the heart of the DevOps promise. At the IBM community event, SHARE, held in San Antonio, Texas, the mainframe community looked again at the emerging approach of DevOps. Technical tracks on DevOps and application development, test and delivery were high in number. Additionally the SHARE EXECUforum breakout featured a panel discussion on DevOps, featuring the great and the good of industry leaders:

  • Jeff Henry, Vice President of Product Management at CA Technologies, responsible for driving cross platform business solutions
  • David Rizzo, Director of Product Development, responsible for leading the development of Compuware products
  • Rosalind Radcliffe, Distinguished Engineer within IBM, and Chief Architect for DevOps for Enterprise Systems
  • Derek Britton, DevOps strategy leader at Micro Focus

Figure 1: SHARE EXECUforum DevOps panel

While official excerpts from the SHARE EXECUform discussion on DevOps are the property of the SHARE organization (and available to their members), what emerged during the discussion is worth summarising.

Why DevOps and why now?

The panel agreed on why now is the right time for DevOps to prevail. IT in 2016, and the commercial world it serves, has changed almost beyond recognition from even 10 years ago. Through greater consumerization – demand from vocal and fickle customers has increased to become a torrent of requirements. Meanwhile, the method of supply has also proliferated beyond comparison, in a BYO anything, always on, always available market. Almost inevitably, the volume and variety of information available and expected is growing and growing, as the pace of change continues to accelerate.

Supplying those information services faster and faster is a necessary outcome of the evolution of the digital economy. DevOps promises to help deliver IT faster by removing barriers to delivery and collaboration, by being smarter across the delivery cycle.

A Cultural Conundrum

Changing an organization to work in a different way is anything but easy, but that’s what DevOps entails. The cultural ramifications of DevOps adoption was the foundation of the panel discussion. Considerations included –

Business sponsorship: popular though it might be, DevOps is usually an IT initiative. It needs the business to acknowledge and accept the initiative as one that has business merit; which in turn requires the desired outcome to be quantified and approved. As I stated during the panel discussion, “IT is under pressure from the business to explain the value of DevOps”

Proof of value: Businesses are reticent to undergo huge internal change without demonstrable proof. Selecting an appropriate project or activity that illustrates the value of DevOps is worthwhile if not imperative.

Infrastructure: Determining the key areas of change is also fundamental. Job functions, underlying technology usage, workflow and collaboration, even entire departments, are subject to possible major upheaval longer term. Failing to plan those aspects carefully will only impact longer term adoption.

(For more Cultural aspects – read my recent blog)

Technology Questions

Plans for cultural adoption will fall on stony ground, however, without resolution of key important technological considerations, a couple of which were discussed by the panel:

Unifying Development – with different teams working in different ways in different tools, inviting them to work together is futile without unifying how they work.

Streamlining Testing – As IBM’s Rosalind Radcliffe states “It doesn’t help to … improve the productivity of the development team if there isn’t an environment for them to develop and run their … tests”. Resolving testing bottlenecks is a major consideration.

DevOps on show

It wasn’t just conversation on offer to SHARE delegates, however; delegates had a chance to watch demonstrations of powerful IDE and testing technology at the heart of the DevOps proposition. During one of the technical sessions, the IDE Shootout, mainframe technology vendors joined forces to show the true power at IT’s fingertips today as they explore ways to leverage DevOps to help eradicate enterprise delivery bottlenecks. Such technology, a step change from ISPF based mainframe tools, can make a significant difference in unifying the development process, increasing development efficiency and breaking through problems in testing capacity and bandwidth.


DevOps is going main-stream and smart organizations are looking to adopt it as a modern approach to address the challenges of the digital economy. Using a careful cultural approach and smart, contemporary technology will offer a route towards successful implementation. If you want to join the discussion – learn more about our DevOps perspective, and expect more of the same at the next SHARE event: see you in Atlanta!

A version of this blog was first published on

Editors Note

Derek is a huge supporter of this blog and the ecosystem around the mainframe platform, he can be followed on Twitter here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.