Thursday, July 23, 2015

Compuware’s Topaz for Java Performance enhances mainframe productivity!

By Rich Ptak

Figure 1 A new tagline for Compuware

Last January, Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley committed to delivering significant enhancements to their mainframe software management portfolio. As part of that commitment, he promised the company would:

1.      Build innovative products highly valued by their customers;
2.      Build solutions that enable the next generation of mainframe workers;
3.      Identify and focus on the most critical needs of their customers;
4.      Assume shared responsibility to advocate and demonstrate leadership for the mainframe platform;
5.      Provide thought leadership for innovative uses for the mainframe platform.

As stated at the time, we were impressed with both the Compuware strategy and their aggressive timeline for the design and delivery of products, services and solutions. We also liked their plans for their Topaz management product, which we characterized as “Mainframe Software for the 21st Century”[1] in our write-up. We reviewed the motivation and market forces driving the strategy in the earlier piece. Those forces continue unabated, and need no repetition here.

We are now two quarters past that initial announcement of Topaz for Enterprise Data.  Chris and Compuware met their commitment deadline for April with the release of Topaz for Program Analysis. They continue to do so now with the announcement of Topaz for Java Performance on July 1st. We’ve seen the product in action; it is clear to us that the Compuware team is living up to their commitment.  Here’s why that is so.

Topaz for Java Performance overview
Topaz for Java Performance provides detailed, comprehensive visibility into the performance and behavior of Java Batch programs and WebSphere transactions running on the mainframe. It focuses on providing a solution that will enhance the productivity of millennial developers as it leverages and complements the expertise of experienced staff and QA teams. The goal is to speed the process of identifying, debugging and resolving mainframe application performance problems.
 IT staff will realize benefits from automation and application insight that results in a more effective utilization of resources and speedier execution. This also frees up the time of experienced staff that can then focus on more complex problems and problem avoidance.
Topaz for Java Performance provides programmers with a one page view of their JVM performance. Specifically designed to work with Java Batch and WebSphere, it provides a hierarchical representation of calls showing the method-to-method progress within the program. It also enables the staff to visualize the heap memory behavior of their program. In both situations, the viewer can zoom in and out to display more or less detail to represent specific portions of the performance data. It allows measurements to be taken across separate systems, LPARs and JVMs from a single web based measurement page. See Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 Measurements of CPU Utilization, Heap Memory, Java Classes and Threads  

It provides views and detailed insights into the peak CPU utilization of specific Java methods and classes.  With this ability, new and experienced staff can spot, investigate and resolve “garbage collection” issues such as memory leaks, trouble-shoot excessively long collection intervals as well as identify those threads that are blocked or not actually doing useful work.

This is all just the beginning as Compuware plans for the evolution of Topaz to become a comprehensive suite of next-generation development products for the next-generation of mainframe development.

Enhancements to other Topaz products
In the meantime, also included in this release are enhancements to the earlier releases. The enhancements include:
·         Topaz for Program Analysis has been enhanced to provide intuitive, accurate visibility into the flow of data within COBOL or PL/I applications. This includes showing how data gets into a field; how a field is used to set other fields; and how a field is used in comparisons. Such “data flow” information helps developers to design better, smarter applications. 
·         Topaz for Enterprise Data can perform high-speed, compression-enabled host-to-host data copying by exploiting IBM z Systems zIIP processors. The load and burden on the general processors are reduced which can help delay/avoid an expensive upgrade. Also, developers can complete their work more quickly at lower costs.

The Final Word
There is much more that can be said and shown about this release that can be covered by Compuware. We highly recommend you see this video[2] and visit their website[3] for additional information
Compuware is delivering on its promises. They not only provide much needed and highly effective solutions, they are living proof of the high efficiency and agility that can be accomplished in mainframe computing by delivering high quality solutions at an unheard of pace. Congratulations to them.
They are also contributing to the general ‘heat-up’ in the mainframe marketplace. We see more interest in the mainframe among a larger and more varied set of users. We see more aggressive and innovative activity among the players as a result of increased competition. And, there is interest resulting from the opening up of the mainframe ecosystem to a wider audience. We think Compuware’s positioning itself as “The Mainframe Software Partner for the Next 50 Years” may turn out to be quite prophetic!