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The Mainframe (Database) is Dead. Long Live the Mainframe (Database)

November 21, 2017
The Mainframe (Database) is Dead. Long Live the Mainframe (Database)

“There is no consequential difference between mainframe applications and distributed applications; the same techniques, like continuous integration, test automation, and automated releasing, can be applied.” (excerpt from Forrester, Digital Transformation Needs Mainframe DevOps).

As Forrester reports, the mainframe is a crucial piece of the world’s economy and needs to benefit the same way our distributed applications are.

DevOps can help the mainframe applications. We have adopted new ways to deliver software over the past ten years and there is no reason we cannot apply those learnings to the mainframe. There is nothing inherent to the mainframe that requires slow complexity. Many companies have applied automation to the mainframe and seen nothing but benefits. However, the database is still neglected in mainframe automation but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as people are able to automate their distributed database schema and logic changes, we should apply the same to the system of record crucial to our enterprises.

That being said, bringing automation to the mainframe remains a challenge. The entrenched mainframe ITSM vendors have neglected the mainframe for years and the software available to mainframe operators is not to the level available to distributed engineers. Whether you are working with bare metal, the cloud, or the mainframe, you should have the same tooling available across all of those platforms. We can no longer have one set of tools for the distributed computer teams and mainframe teams.

For companies that seek to improve mainframe application delivery speed, this change is viewed as a “survive-and-thrive imperative”. As Forrester states the solution is not to delivery old code faster; companies must remove barriers to innovation in all of their core products. Thus, supporting database release automation for mainframe databases such as Db2 for z/OS becomes even more important as enterprises seek to digitally transform.

Companies that use the mainframe have a competitive advantage over others that do not. Their ability to provide resiliency and scalability is unparalleled with the cloud. But, if they are simply offering the same services to their customers, they will squander their advantage. Speed and safety must go hand in hand.

For our part, Datical support for Db2 for z/OS was announced earlier this year. Datical’s automation for Db2 for z/OS eliminates manual intervention for database schema and logic updates during application delivery. Datical connects to any Db2 for z/OS instance via JDBC over TCP/IP. Just like existing tools that run on a non-mainframe PC. By enabling application development teams with the freedom to quickly and safely update the database, barriers are removed to application delivery and Digital Transformation. Of course, there are areas where Datical will not help you. For tasks such as moving a tablespace to large disk, you will still need the expertise of a DBA. However, for the high-speed changes that have become a standard part of the application release process, Datical can align your Db2 for z/OS changes with your application code changes and offer push button deployments for your most crucial applications.

To learn more about database release automation for mission critical applications and digital transformation read our white paper, A Guide to Digital Transformation, Enterprise Applications and the Database.