Monday, July 10, 2017

Compuware Further Boosts Mainframe Agility with Topaz for Total Test Enhancements and Integrations with Leading DevOps Tools

By Rich Ptak

Figure 1 Topaz for Total Test Speeds and Simplifies COBOL Unit Testing
Image courtesy of Compuware

 It's a new quarter and time for a Compuware mainframe product announcement. This time the focus is on enhancements to Topaz for Total Test. As you may recall, we last commented on Topaz for Total Test's powerful automation capabilities for application test creation, implementation, execution, and cleanup at ist's introduction last January[1].See Figure 1 above.

 Earlier announcements have addressed such topics as Source Code Management[2], Release Automation and Application Deployment and Application Audit, which increases overall cybersecurity and compliance with automated auditing of user behavior with applications. Integration with SIEM tools such as Splunk[3] allows the user to get a cross-enterprise view that speeds identification and detection of non-compliant and security threatening behavior by users. 

Topaz for Total Test, the subject of this commentary, addresses problems of COBOL code change management with groundbreaking automation and innovations in COBOL code testing. Given the abject failure of re-platforming initiatives, large enterprises hoping to avoid digital irrelevance must aggressively modernize their mainframe DevOps practices. Key to the modernization and ‘de-legacing’ of mainframe application is the adoption of unit testing for COBOL code that is equivalent to and well-integrated with unit testing as practiced across the rest of the enterprise codebase. That is exactly the challenge Compuware addresses with Topaz for Total Test.

Compuware has committed to build on its solution base using agile, continuous, modern processes to deliver significant enhancements and extensions. In fulfillment of that commitment, they are developing new DevOps Toolchain integrations and extended support for DB2 SQL. Here is what they are bringing to market.

What’s new?

Compuware made an impressive start in January with the initial release of Topaz for Total Test, which enables developers at all skill levels to perform unit testing of COBOL code similar to how it is done for other programming languages (Java, PHP, etc.). Program Stubs were also a significant and highly popular innovation. Stubs allow sub-program calls to be disconnected from the main program. Therefore, the subprograms can be tested independently of the main program. Data Stubs eliminate the need to access data files or DB2 Tables. Testing becomes much easier, less complicated, less risky and complete considerably faster. Testing can be repeated without disrupting the production environment, thereby significantly increasing operational flexibility. It was no surprise that customers responded enthusiastically by using stubs extensively and quickly identifying specific extensions to make the product even more attractive.

Compuware quickly moved to explore the possibilities for further automation of the unit test process. Developers, like all skilled craftsmen, have favored tools. For developers, these include Jenkins (toolchain management), SonarQube (quality control) and Compuware’s own ISPW (source code management and deployment).

Compuware recognized the opportunity to completely automate the DevOps processes of Build – Test – Deploy. They also noted that the ability to test independently of the main program and without impacting operations was highly valuable as it simplified a frustrating, time-consuming task. Further, data stubbing could be used in other areas to eliminate or reduce dependencies to further strengthen, simplify and speed testing. This release responds to those requests. The results are the enhancements included in the announcement. They are:
  • Topaz for Total Test integration with Jenkins which enables COBOL unit testing to be automatically triggered as part of a DevOps toolchain and/or continuous delivery process. The result is a significant increase in efficiency.  
  • Topaz for Total Test integration with SonarSource’s SonarQube ensures quality trends are visible throughout the development process by displaying pass/fail testing results along with all cross-platform DevOps activities. 
  • Topaz for Total Test integration with Compuware ISPW tightly couples test cases with source code to enable the sharing of test assets, enhanced workflow and the enforcement of testing policies as part of the DevOps toolchain.
  • New “stubbing” for DB2 databases allows developers to run unit tests without requiring an active connection to a live DB2 database. This is huge. Testing can be done against real data without impacting or risking corruption of the production data base. With stubbing, Topaz for Total Test can test code processing most types of mainframe data. The unique capability for stubbing of DB2, VSAM, and QSAM data types means that creating repeatable tests is much easier. Data stubs can be created automatically with no re-compilation needed. 

There’s still more in the announcement. The DB2 data used to make SQL statement stubs can be collected automatically, in real-time from on-line test databases. These data stubs can be saved and used to create and run new scenarios for use by other testers. Data stubs can be reused or overwritten by multiple testing programs. Decoupling code into subprograms allows Unit testing to be done in smaller increments, speeding results, simplifying testing and allowing for more granular analysis and better testing. All this means testing can be done without requiring a large system for testing. Testing can be done on-line with no risk to the production database. Job Control Language (JCL) can be created and reused from Profiles, eliminating the need to recreate them every time. 

The Final Word
Compuware is aggressively pursuing a strategy directed at “Mainstreaming the Mainframe.” Their strategy recognizes and is dedicated to overcoming structural and operational issues that make mainframe utilization and COBOL code maintenance a complex, slow and intimidating task, especially for those new to the mainframe.

They do so by delivering “big step” IT tools that introduce the latest new-to-the-mainframe capabilities, such as automated unit testing. But, they also extend and enhance existing solutions by automating functions or processes, providing interesting product integrations and extending APIs to simplify or ease time-consuming mainframe tasks that annoy admin and operations staffs. To accomplish this, Compuware has employed and made contributions in visualization, code analysis, behavior auditing, automated unit testing, operations management, etc.  

Topaz for Total Test provides positive proof of Compuware’s success as it benefits both IT and production staffs. IT staff benefit from access to familiar, modern tools and more efficient processes. IT productivity and performance benefit from increased automation. Faster collection of test data by exploiting Compuware’s Xpediter is one example. The extensive use of automation in test creation (such as collecting test data) and execution improves the quality and depth of testing. Integrations with Jenkins, SonarQube, and ISPW further empower less experienced mainframe developers to work on multi-tier apps. The overall result is that program updates, changes and improvements move more quickly through the DevOps process to get higher quality code into the production environment.

Operations benefits as both customers and users see improvements. Users benefit from better quality code with few problems and faster introduction of changes to meet business and operational needs. Customer satisfaction improves when they get the benefits of updated and modified code with fewer problems.

This is the 11th consecutive quarter that Compuware has delivered on its “Mainstreaming the Mainframe” commitment to improve and make more attractive the Mainframe ecosystem. Figure 2 at right summarizes their path to this point.

Figure 2 Compuware Delivery Record to Date
Image courtesy of Compuware

Their performance to-date has been impressive by any measure. And, from what we’ve been told and heard from them, they fully expect to continue to deliver at an equivalent pace and scale for the foreseeable future.

We congratulate Compuware on their success so far, as well as their commitment to the future. Compuware’s efforts have positively impacted the mainframe market, to the benefit of everyone involved in that market whether partner, customer, service provider or vendor. Look at what they’ve done; see if you don’t agree.

[2] For more details on these and other topics see:
[3] Read about the full range of Splunk products here: