Compuware, a software provider now focused exclusively on managing mainframe systems, announced the general availability release of its quarterly iteration of its Topaz mainframe software, including new Topaz for Java performance capabilities.

These new Java capabilities provide visibility into the performance and behavior of Java Batch programs and IBM WebSphere transactions running on IBM z Systems mainframes, including peak CPU utilization of Java methods and classes, as well as garbage collection issues, according to the company.

Chris O’Malley, president and CEO of Compuware, said bringing Java and other modern programming languages to the mainframe will be a key factor in indoctrinating a new, younger generation of software engineers as the next stewards of mainframe application development and management. He explained that 70% to 80% of the existing mainframe workforce is about to retire, and organizations whose entire back-end platforms and financial businesses are built on mainframes are looking to Java to modernize their investment.

“Topaz is a branded set of solutions trying to bring an ordinary nature to the mainframe,” said O’Malley. “The mainframe as a platform offers reliability, security, performance, and can be significantly cheaper than servers. But it is esoteric. Topaz is trying to make the mainframe look and feel more like something in the open systems world. Initially we brought in data visualization—and then visualization against the application itself—to allow mobile and analytics to interact with these millions of lines of code.

“Java is the next big step for Topaz in dealing with these workloads requested by mobile applications on mainframe data. There’s a substantial push by mainframe customers to bring Java as a method of working with those existing legacy applications as a modernization effort on the platform.”

(Related: A look at Compuware’s first Topaz release this past January)

Along with its new Java capabilities, the release also adds Topaz for Program Analysis: an improved data-flow visibility solution for application design within COBOL or PL/I e. It also has Topaz for Enterprise Data, which adds compression-enabled host-to-host data copying for zIIP processors.

Sam Knutson, Compuware’s director of product management, detailed how the Java and other new Topaz capabilities allow developers to understand workload performance and how to work with Java as a commercial mainframe developer.

“The enhancements around data flow on top of program analysis gives developers an X-ray machine into program code to follow and understand the changes to data throughout applications,” he said. “On the performance side, we’ve gotten in front of the curve. IBM is heavily invested in Java, with IBM and vendors exploiting Java to build things. Now commercial customers want the same thing: to use modern languages like Java, Node and Python on the platform to allow newly hired developers to be immediately productive, and to leverage their technology investments in the hardware without increasing cost.”

Topaz supports all JDKs offered by IBM, and Knutson said Compuware encourages customers to adopt the latest JDKs to take advantage of the advances in technology and performance around Java, from Java 6 to 7 to 8.

As O’Malley explained, Compuware’s efforts around Java with Topaz are a way to show banks, retailers, large financial institutions and other organizations running their entire back ends on mainframes that rather than migrating everything onto servers or a cloud-based platform, they should rethink what the mainframe can do.

“Usually when anybody thinks of the word modernization as it relates to IT, it almost always means re-hosting the platform. We’re trying to make the case for modernizing on platform,” said O’Malley. “In seeing that Topaz could be the answer to a next-generation workforce being innovative and inspired on a mainframe to create new things. Organizations should realize it’s the best platform to modernize on.

“Mainframes aren’t and shouldn’t go anyplace. Developers have to invent on it, and enterprises need to get their best people working on the platform. In doing that, tools count. Interfaces count. Showing a 22-year-old a green screen is like showing garlic to a vampire.”