The application and systems landscape at Danske Bank is highly dynamic, as the competitive market drives a need to continually launch new services. To shorten the development cycle and bring IT closer to the business, the bank adopted agile development processes, managed using IBM® Engineering Workflow Management software and other tools.
Henrik Hartvig Jensen, Lead Software Engineer and Technical Architect at Danske Bank, comments: “We often aim to achieve first-mover advantage, where this maximizes our opportunity to gain market share. Some time ago, we launched the first mobile payment app in Denmark, and our IBM tools helped us to achieve that. Quality remains important; in combination with time-to-market, a solid mainframe development environment with code coverage, unit testing, and test coverage is a critical element in software production at Danske Bank.”
Amid all the change and increase in speed, Danske Bank continues to run its core banking and customer information systems on the IBM Z® platform, using two IBM z16® mainframes in an ultra-high-availability GDPS® cluster.
Henrik Sloth Schade, Product Owner for Mainframe continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and Repositories at Danske Bank, notes: “IBM Z remains an extremely important platform for Danske Bank. As the world changes, we are always exploring new possibilities, but it’s an evolutionary process: we think that IBM Z is still the best place to do core banking today. IBM Z is at the center of our business.”
Danske Bank sought to make it easier for developers to create and test new software, and to automate unit testing both for IBM Z and for its other platforms. Jensen explains, “Our focus is on implementing additional guardrails to what we’ve already been doing, achieving the capability for end-to-end automation in our entire mainframe development pipeline.”
In its ongoing drive towards modernization, Danske Bank has been working to bring the IBM Z development environment in line with Eclipse and .NET development environments running on other platforms. The bank sought to encourage greater use of automation and better control across the full software lifecycle. Finally, Danske Bank needed to have better and faster insight into the performance and availability of its development environments, facilitating internal developers in working quickly, efficiently and productively.
Danske Bank can now bring offerings to market in half the time it used to take.
IBM Developer for z/OS enables 60% faster development cycles.
To better support its large community of internal developers—which includes 1700 installations of IDz and just under 1000 active mainframe developers, with at least 500 unique users daily—and to ensure a stable and reliable IBM Z development platform, Danske Bank upgraded to the latest IBM Application Delivery Foundation for z/OS (ADFz).
Based on a continuous delivery model, ADFz delivers incremental enhancements throughout the year. The complete set of core tools in ADFz is designed to boost efficiency in creating and maintaining applications for IBM z/OS® environments and includes IBM Developer for z/OS, IBM Debug for z/OS, IBM Fault Analyzer for z/OS, IBM File Manager for z/OS, and IBM Application Performance Analyzer for z/OS.
“What’s great about these IBM solutions is that almost everything we need to deliver software rapidly is in one interface,” says Jensen. “We can handle the whole IBM Z software lifecycle in a user-friendly environment that is quickly accessible to developers new to IBM Z. This promotes greater speed and efficiency, and helps bridge the gap between development for z/OS and for other platforms.”
Danske Bank developed its own unit test tool, integrated into its IBM Developer for z/OS environment, enabling a seamless flow from development through test cases, unit testing, the addition of business logic, and finally the transition into production.
“The whole analysis and debugging process is faster and more intuitive in IBM Developer for z/OS, with easy access to new tools that we developed,” says Jensen. “Our ‘Application Diagnostic Systems’ tool uses the Fault Analyzer API to extract system dumps from the mainframe and open them directly in the IDE to see the current state and history of the program in production, check criticality and whether you can make changes, and add comments to flag any issues.”
Schade adds, “We continue to work closely with the IBM labs, inspiring them to incorporate our homegrown functionality into the IBM tools. It’s a great two-way relationship, and we appreciate the cooperation.”
While core transactions and customer information reside on the IBM Z platform, front-end services often sit on other platforms. By offering similar graphical environments to manage development and testing on both sides, Danske Bank is helping to reduce potential obstacles to collaboration.
“We have also migrated our COBOL and PL/1 code from old repositories into IBM Engineering Workflow Management,” comments Jensen. “This makes it easier to attract a new generation of developers to work with tried-and-trusted functionality without the culture shock of working on green screens! It’s all intuitive to use.”
Schade adds, “I’m really proud of where we are right now. Everything on the mainframe that can be integrated into IDz is easily available. Even some of the processes in the IBM tools have been adopted or adapted to speed up the development process. Our mainframe developers can get really far in IDz with just a few clicks.”
The tools within ADFz play a key role in keeping the IBM Z landscape performing optimally at all times, as Jensen explains: “We use the IBM tools to monitor the performance and availability of everything from the back-end CICS systems through to the development landscapes. Discovering dependencies makes it easier to stay compliant. Looking at the distributed space, we have many different CI/CD tools and over a thousand different pipelines and setups that may need to change in order to stay compliant. Adopting one way of working may be restrictive in some ways, but it offers advantages in terms of compliance and control.
As Danske Bank continues to evolve its software development capabilities to meet rising pressures around time-to-market and quality, ADFz is helping ensure that vital tools are always available to developers. The solution also fits with the bank’s goal of making greater use of APIs for more efficient presentation of existing functionality, internally and externally.
“We are setting up more APIs to services running on IBM Z,” comments Jensen. “Making it easier to call existing services—such as calling up a customer’s current balance directly from the core banking system—accelerates development and boosts internal efficiency. Within ADFz, using APIs helps us combine multiple sources into a single viewpoint for users, saving time and effort.”
With real-time syntax checking in IBM Developer for z/OS, developers can quickly see problems without the need to keep compiling their code, saving time and enabling faster development cycles. It also provides easy access to performance hierarchies, graphical program controls, enhanced code refactoring tools and tools for rapid static code analysis.
“We have very few outages in our development environment,” Jensen says. “Performance and maturity have also improved. Some years ago, we set the target of moving from testing to production in under 25 minutes—and we have proved that we can do it in under 15! Developers need to be ready and know what to do, but the toolset is able to accommodate it.”
“Testing in a separate environment before deployment will help our environment become even more stable going forward,” Schade adds. “We aim to ensure rapid ongoing delivery of high-quality applications and new functionality to meet emerging business needs. The IBM tools on our IBM Z platform are helping us build our roadmap for the move to DevOps, particularly in automated testing. They enable us to drive a new culture and mindset of increased innovation, rapid delivery of new business solutions and awareness of the full software lifecycle. They also help us increase standardization and transparency in development, testing and production, understand and align pipelines, and improve efficiency in our development processes.”
Established in 1871, Danske Bank (link resides ibm.com) is a Nordic universal bank. In its core markets of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, it serves all types of customers, from personal customers and businesses to large institutional clients. In total, the bank has 3.5 million customers, 2.2 million of whom use e-banking, and operates a network of 300 branches across eight countries. Danske Bank has 19,000 full-time employees and continues to grow both organically as well as through mergers and acquisitions.
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Produced in the United States of America, April 2023.
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