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Mainframe challenges stifle innovation

Enterprises relying on the mainframe struggle to deliver application improvements at the speed of today’s digital business and run the risk of not meeting customer experience and product expectations, according to a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Compuware Corporation. Fortunately, enterprises can successfully address these challenges by applying proven DevOps best practices to their mainframe environments.

The survey of global IT, I&O, and Application Development professionals showed 90 percent reporting challenges with mainframe application development and delivery resulting in long release cycles for customer-facing apps, downscaling of product features to meet deadlines, and expensive workarounds using other technologies. 90 percent of respondents also reported that their mainframe application development is hampered by organizational bureaucracy, internal silos that create bottlenecks, quality issues and insufficient funding.
The impact of these challenges is widespread because the vast majority of new business initiatives involve the mainframe. A full 57 percent said those initiatives always involve the mainframe, while another 39 percent said the mainframe is involved with at least some new initiatives.
Organizations employ a variety of tactics to solve these challenges. However, many of these tactics fall short or create their own impediments to fast, continuous application delivery. For example:
• 48 percent move some applications off the mainframe, but find that results in security issues, higher costs, degraded performance and project delays.
• 41 percent attempt to work around the mainframe. This leads to greater complexity, higher costs, duplicate tooling and increased security risks.
• 40 percent attempt to modernize on the mainframe platform, but struggle with long transition times, Java performance issues and inadequate tools to help with application understanding.
The survey also revealed that enterprises are successfully addressing these challenges by applying proven DevOps best practices to their mainframe environments. More than 40 percent of respondents claimed that such practices have resulted in shorter development cycles and faster response to business needs. In addition, 35 percent are achieving improved customer experience and 34 percent are realizing cost savings by embracing innovations in mainframe DevOps.
According to the Forrester study:
“Organizations face both business and technical challenges on the mainframe, preventing them from innovating and transforming into a digital business. To avoid issues with the mainframe, organizations are working around it, replatforming, or modernizing. However, each of these tactics creates new issues. The good news is that those companies embracing DevOps deliver faster and at a higher quality, all while fostering collaboration.”
Compuware, which commissioned the study, has been aggressively leading the transformation of the mainframe into a fully Agile- and DevOps-enabled platform where development, testing and operations processes can occur at the same rapid pace as they do on distributed and cloud platforms. This cross-platform agility empowers large enterprises to enjoy the mainframe’s significant advantages in terms of reliability, scalability, performance, economics and security—without sacrificing the rapid time-to-market essential for competing in a digital world.
“Enterprises that mistakenly allow their mainframe environments to languish in outdated processes and archaic tools will suffer the consequences of being too slow—which includes customer defection and, a continual state of managed decline,” said Compuware CEO Chris O’Malley, “That’s why smart enterprise CEO are investing in mainframe modernization that transforms their systems of record from inhibitors of digital success to catalysts of competitive advantage.”
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