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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Compuware delivers again! Solution innovation for eight consecutive quarters!

By Rich Ptak

With its October launch, Compuware once again successfully met its self-imposed goal of a quarterly delivery of brand new or significantly enhanced, mainframe solutions. This makes 8 consecutive quarters they have done so. And, for each quarter, the result has been significant, ground-breaking extensions or enhancement of capabilities or accessibility in areas that include mainframe DevOps, risk reduction, app development, systems management and resolution of significant challenges to smooth mainframe operations. The current announcement continues the pattern. Congratulations and kudos to Compuware. Here’s what we found interesting.

Service-based Acquisition
We commented earlier on Compuware’s acquisition of ISPW product technology and its integration with Compuware Topaz. ISPW provides comprehensive, modern functionality for Source Code Management (SCM), Release Automation (RA) and Application Deployment (AD) for both mainframe and distributed platforms as a single, integrated solution. We were enthusiastic about the move and the success of Compuware’s integration. As it turns out, we weren’t the only ones.

The prospect of having a single solution where three separate products were previously required was very attractive to over-stretched IT staffs. Combined with a tight integration to Topaz and you have a solution that is practically irresistible. Customer demand for help in moving to ISPW was so high that it motivated Compuware to make its second business acquisition in 10 months. Compuware purchased the total SCM practice, including implementation services, experienced staff and proven methodologies from Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) firm, Itegrations[1]. Compuware’s SCM Migration Services[2] simplifies, speeds and reduces the risk when migrating from existing vendor-supplied and homegrown systems to ISPW SCM.

Topaz additions, enhancements, extensions and integrations
In keeping with Compuware’s theme of Mainstreaming the Mainframe, the announcement included new Compuware Topaz Connect[3] (formerly Itegrations NxBridge) that automates and simplifies cross-platform connectivity. Customers can automatically connect Compuware ISPW to various ITSM solutions including ServiceNow, BMC Remedy and Tivoli. This reduces manual-processes, time and effort while making the mainframe more accessible, the customer experience better and improving performance metrics. Recognizing that enterprises may not be able to migrate to agile ISPW SCM immediately, Topaz Connect enables CA Endevor users to access required Endevor functionality via Compuware Topaz Workbench[4], a modern Eclipse-based IDE. Through this integration, developers can perform critical activities such as add and move elements in the lifecycle; generate (compile) elements; create packages; and move groups in the lifecycle.

In another major step towards increasing mainframe utilization, raising the accessibility to modern tools and making the move to DevOps faster and easier, Compuware is providing REST APIs, in effect “building blocks,” to be used to control and manage application deployment in both mainframe and distributed environments. The APIs for ISPW enable users to create, promote, deploy and check the status of code releases using popular Agile/DevOps tools including Jenkins, XebiaLabs XL Release, Slack and Atlassian HipChat with Webhook notification.
Additional broader scope APIs will be available in coming months. These will be built to leverage, work with and support open standards and open standards-based tools. For example, complementing the APIs, Compuware plans to add support for a number of popular tools.

JCL has been a longtime hurdle for those looking to develop for mainframes, even more so for millennials. Compuware tackles the challenge with plug-ins for Topaz Workbench. Integrations with Software Engineering of America (SEA) technology include the JCLplus Plugin for Topaz Workbench which will automatically verify standards, check syntax and do runtime simulation of JCL. In addition, there is the SAVRS Plugin for Topaz Workbench, which allows easy viewing and interpretation of Joblog and SYSOUT reports.  

Terse error logs and messages made fault analysis a mainframe frustration for a long time. Adding to the problem, mainframe groups operated in informational and data isolation, siloed away from the rest of the enterprise. As a result, separated and off by itself, the mainframe became a “black box”, sidelined and not recognized as part of the enterprise operations team.

As a start to resolving those issues, Compuware partnered with Syncsort Ironstream to change that. Integrating with Ironstream allows the Abend-AID application fault discovery and analysis solution diagnostic data, together with the mainframe logs, security, and environmental data, to be fed in machine-readable form to Splunk, which combines that data with data from multiple different sources (security, compliance, behavioral, operations, compliance, etc.) across the organization. The combination can then be analyzed, correlated, evaluated to yield operational intelligence. The mainframe’s impact and influence in the context of the total operations is made visible and the importance of the mainframe to overall operations established.     

There is much more contained in the announcement. Our recommendation is that you follow up with Compuware to see how your customers and enterprise development and operations can benefit from their efforts.

Compuware’s overall ambition is to expose and confirm the importance of the mainframe to the enterprise. They do so by removing tool-based barriers that have traditionally inhibited its use to broader DevOps teams and by resolving significant shortcomings, including most significantly, dismantling operational silos. A significant part of the solution is the modernization of mainframe solutions, tools and capabilities so that developers, operations and business analysts can function consistently, transparently across mainframe, distributed and mobile platforms.

A Final word on Compuware’s Vision
If you haven’t noticed already, Compuware operates with a very customer-focused vision to drive its quarter-to-quarter deliveries. It isn’t that they are driven to reflexively react with little forethought. They have an established, consistent product/solution plan with a roadmap of future deliverables.

The basic, bedrock principle is to develop solutions based on what they believe are the critical and most-pressing problems confronting their customers NOW. They are driven by the belief that there are a number of identifiable and curable challenges that act as immediate roadblocks to keep the mainframe out of the mainstream. Their goal is to eliminate those roadblocks and speed the mainframe into mainstream operations. To do that, they have a prioritized, yet flexible list of which challenge they will take-on and when. 

Compuware’s plans are neither static, nor inhibiting of creative, responsive innovation. For example, late last year the team conceived of, built out and delivered Runtime Visualizer, a new feature in Topaz for Program Analysis[5], in just 84 days. This year they acquired ISPW and rapidly integrated it with Topaz[6]. On the heels of that, they acquired and delivered Compuware ISPW SCM Migration Services. Yet focused attention on customer feedback and the rapidly evolving world of enterprise IT isn’t completely unique – and it isn’t sufficient to maintain leadership. Compuware, partners, employees and executives hold themselves to an exceptionally rapid rate of development and delivery. They are aided by a great deal of flexibility in implementation due in a significant part to their own products and organizational vision. They are driven to produce extraordinary results that demonstrate their own agility, as well as that of mainframe solutions and operations. As they promise, Compuware’s employees and executives are delivering “Agility Without Compromise…simple, elegant solutions that enable a blended development ecosystem.”

We’re impressed with what they are doing. We recommend that you investigate to see if you agree.