Large enterprises often struggle to build and maintain their mainframe applications, typically written in COBOL. Older COBOL developers are retiring from the workforce and the applications — many developed decades ago— are without documentation, often complex and difficult to understand.

Compuware has developed a novel approach to this problem, initially addressing its own challenges, and offers a suite of products that enable non-mainframe developers to understand and therefore maintain these business-critical applications.

“The largest shops in the world run mainframes. They want to implement DevOps and integrate their mainframe applications or mainframe system of record with their mobile and web applications,” said David Rizzo, VP of product development at Compuware. “One of the big struggles they have is implementing new technologies and applications across the enterprise.”

Three years ago, Compuware began its journey toward becoming an Agile DevOps company focused on mainframe software development. Today its mainframe developers work hand-in-hand with non-mainframe developers creating a modern DevOps toolchain. Importantly, they’re able to use the same tools to work on different platforms.

Using Compuware solutions, the mainframe becomes just another platform versus something esoteric that’s nearly impossible to manage. In addition, Compuware has partnered with XebiaLabs, SonarSource, Jenkins and others to ensure its tools work within a customer’s existing DevOps toolchain.

Many Platforms, One IDE

Compuware integrates mainframe and non-mainframe development efforts using Topaz, its comprehensive suite of mainframe development and testing tools. Now any developer can work on any program, no matter how old or complex, regardless of their experience.

“Topaz allows you to do mainframe development in a modern UI. Java developers can use it to develop in other languages,” said Rizzo. “Topaz along with Compuware’s other tools also facilitate DevOps from dev to ops and production.”

Topaz also integrates with industrystandard DevOps tools including Jenkins and SonarSource’s SonarLint and SonarQube. With Topaz, developers can understand an application’s entire lifecycle from one system to another, including systems of record.

“Topaz users can look at the same information and see how each part of the application is working,” said Rizzo. “The third-party integration enables a consistent toolchain so developers can speak the same language and develop in a consistent way.”

Over the past two years, Compuware has added capabilities that help new application developers understand mainframe applications using graphical representations.

Automate Mainframe Unit Tests

Compuware’s newest addition to the Topaz suite, Topaz for Total Test, enables unit testing on COBOL applications. It supports products such as DB2 so tests can be run without a live system.

In addition, applications can be tested automatically because Topaz for Total Test is integrated into a toolchain that includes Jenkins, ISPW and SonarQube. That same toolchain gives developers insight into how a change impacts an application.

“Unit testing is new to most mainframe developers,” said Rizzo. “Java developers have things like JUnit for unit testing. Most mainframe developers do full testing, regression testing, very extensive application testing but not unit testing. You shouldn’t have to run large-scale tests when you make a small change.”

Manage Source Code

Some of the old, monolithic source code management systems used on mainframe applications don’t allow for Agile development or multiple streams of development. Compuware ISPW changes that, so changes can be made faster and with the confidence and quality customers require.

ISPW integrates with Git and other tools so customers can keep their distributed code on distributed platforms and their mainframe code on the mainframe platform. That way, source code maintenance remains on the platform used to build and deploy the application. ISPW Deploy integrates with XebiaLabs XL Release to automate, standardize and monitor code deployments across multiple platforms into multiple target environments.

“You can deploy an entire application with code on both platforms in one deployment,” said Rizzo. “You’re able to do continuous integration and continuous deployment of applications knowing it’s good code, you understand the code, it’s been fully tested and you can predict the results in production.”

Topaz’s end-to-end and multiplatform capabilities allow developers to monitor applications across mainframe and nonmainframe platforms, set up KPIs and metrics using tools such as Sonar and Jenkins to maintain product quality and understand and monitor how applications are running in production.

Get More Insights, Live

Rizzo will be presenting at DOES San Francisco Nov. 15, 2017. His session, entitled, “Creating a Modern DevOps Toolchain with Mainframe Development” will provide practical insights about best practices and common challenges, including cultural issues.

Learn more at