Compuware to Bring Agile Development to the Mainframe

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    Looking to bring agile development methodologies to the staid world of the mainframe, Compuware this week announced that it has acquired ISPW, a provider of source code management software built on agile development methodology, while at the same time moving to form alliances with AppDynamics, Atlassian, Jenkins, SonarSource and Splunk as part of an effort to better integrate mainframes within larger DevOps frameworks.

    Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley says that despite the venerable age of COBOL applications running on mainframes, there is no reason why agile development methodologies can’t be applied to mainframe application development. To achieve that goal, O’Malley says Compuware opted to acquire ISPW to make it simpler to apply a common set of agile source code management practices to both mainframes and distributed systems.

    As part of that effort, Compuware also announced this week that it has updated its Topaz Runtime Visualizer software to include support for file and table I/O visualizations.

    O’Malley notes that one of the great ironies of agile development is that as a methodology it often winds up getting applied to some of the least important applications in the enterprise. Most enterprise IT organizations continue to rely on the mainframe for their most mission-critical applications. By applying an agile development methodology to those applications, O’Malley says that organizations can get more value out of those investments at several orders of magnitude greater speed.

    In fact, O’Malley contends that most organizations would be a lot better off internally embracing agile development methodologies for the mainframe than outsourcing the development of those to third-party providers. At a time when organizations are investing in next-generation algorithms to attain a sustainable competitive business advantage, O’Malley says it makes no sense to outsource mainframe development.

    Instead, O’Malley says organizations should concentrate on applying agile development methodologies originally created on open systems to mainframe applications where those methodologies might have the most business impact.

    It remains to be seen from a cultural perspective just how much an IT organization managing a mainframe can be taught new tricks. But given the shortage of mainframe talent in the IT world at the present moment, there’s clearly no time better than the present to start trying.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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