Modified on by CCBranham
A first step in mainframe application modernization is to equip development teams with a modern development environment.
Enter IBM Rational’s Integrated Solution for System z Development (ISDz). The tools included in this solution offer a flexible, integrated development environment, automated features, asset visualization, and ease of use. They boost the productivity of developers, lower development costs, and make it easier for mainframe and distributed development teams to collaborate.
All technology and tool change can be disruptive, but change in the mainframe environment presents some unique challenges. Tool changes alter complicated development infrastructures and practices that were refined, often literally, over decades. Mainframe developers can face a steep learning curve as they attempt to unlearn now nearly automatic, “green screen” taskflows, recast their work in the new environment, and broaden their development capabilities.
These challenges are far from insurmountable, but they require organizations to take a strategic approach to learning and the solution adoption effort.
Change is disruptive
You can plot the course of a typical solution adoption effort in terms of time and productivity.
When adopting new tools, a development team experiences a temporary dip in productivity as their focus gets divided between work and learning new skills (A). As developers acquire the new skills and put them to work, they realize the benefits of the solution (B). As changes and opportunities arise (perhaps a new tool release, or unforeseen problems as processes change), the organization works to maintain productivity over the long term (C) to maximize the return on their initial investment.
The goals of the adoption effort are to reduce time in periods A and B, and to maximize gains in productivity in periods B and C, while avoiding derailment of the effort at any of these stages.
From a learning solutions perspective, the productivity graph like this:
Learning through the change isaccelerated with training and performance support. Learning is not a single event, and these approaches are not mutually exclusive. But these two approaches come to dominate at different stages in the process, based on the changing needs of the learner.
Training means instruction, structured hands-on learning in interactive events. Working with a coach or instructor is most efficient for the new user adapting to a fundamental change in practice. Training takes a tutorial approach, allowing the user to assimilate new skills incrementally. But training needs to become more self-directed over time. As the productivity curve rises into period B, the training approach tapers off into mentoring.
Performance support then comes to the fore. Performance support is learning that the user accesses in their day to day project workflow. The most familiar examples of performance support in software include online contextual Help, cheat sheets, tooltips, reference aids, video demonstrations, and so on. Experts and social networks (of the kind you find here on developerWorks, or on Jazz.net) serve a crucial performance support function as well.
Let’s explore these approaches and consider the case of mainframe solution adoption more closely.
Developer training events are cited time and again as being pivotal in successful ISDz adoption efforts. When using these tools for the first time, training provides the most efficient way to build foundational skills, share effective practices, and motivate process change. Although limited in scope—training amounts to little more than 25% of a successful rollout effort—a small, strategic investment in training pays dividends throughout the life of the solution.
The ISDz tools, such as Rational Developer for System z, are designed to make use of some of the intricate skills mainframe developers already possess, but most of the efficiencies and automation these solutions provide involve new, unfamiliar practices. Taking time out to learn these practices with experts and peers in a focused training event is more efficient for the mainframe practitioner and presents fewer risks of failure than self-study.
In order to be successful, training programs should be:
Tailored to the environment: Since the mainframe environment is usually tailored for the enterprise, each organization typically has its own usage model and development conventions for the ISDz tools. Training should incorporate some of the developer’s own artifacts and these conventions.
Focused on performance: Focus the learning on the application development and maintenance activities developers perform every day. At the same time, activities need to be simpler than real life so that participants can focus the effort on building new skills instead of on the complexity of the problem domain.
Learner centered: Training needs to be engaging for the learner, offering hands-on practice and group workshops. Foundational concepts and demonstration are provided just to provide context for each applied activity.
IBM Rational Software Services can help design the best training program for your organization.
Performance support and social learning
However important training may be in a rollout effort, learning is not a single event. We use training to transfer essential skills and set a foundation for learning and practice, not to try to serve up everything a user needs to know. The classic Ebbenhaus Forgetting Curve, demonstrating the exponential nature of forgetting, is a potent reminder that an all-in training event by itself is an incomplete enablement strategy.
The training approach itself becomes less useful as developer skill levels rise. When applying the tools on the job, learning needs to be more individualized and self-motivated. The learning challenges in the workflow are also more problem-focused than skills focused. On-demand learning resources are needed that help with the following activities:
Applying the tool: Reviewing skills learned in training, or applying skills in a new project situation.
Solving problems: When a process doesn’t work the way the user thinks it should, or where the user is blocked by an emerging problem.
Dealing with change: Adapting to a new tool release, adopting new development technologies, or changing configurations and usage models.
For these challenges, there are many resources available: the product information centers, YouTube and IBM Education Assistant videos, developerWorks articles, IBM Redbooks, blogs, and developer forum and Support archives, just to name a few examples. Developers can gather and pool useful resources like these for use in their teams as they use the ISDz solution.
During the rollout effort, early adopters, administrators, and other specialists emerge from the team as experts who can help with problem-solving, forming an informal “center of excellence” within the organization. At the same time, developers can turn to social networks, such as IBM developerWorks, to find answers in learning communities like the Rational Cafés.
Work of all kinds is becoming faster-paced, more automated, more distributed, and more agile. The need to control costs in change processes is part of this new normal. Given these challenges, it is essential to take a strategic approach to transforming development organizations, bringing together the right formal training and on-demand resources to reduce time to value and ensure maximum productivity for your tool investment.
Interested in more IBM Rational news?
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Products: Rational Team Concert, Rational Requirements Composer, Rational Quality ManagerWe are pleased to feature Contributing Author Darrell Schrag
Darrell Schrag lives in the Chicago area. He has been with Rational software since 1996, before it was acquired by IBM, and he has been with IBM Rational for 10 years. As part of the Rational Services organization for seven years, Darrell was involved in numerous Rational deployments across the development lifecycle. He spends his time today on the Rational Unleash the Labs team in the mobile and DevOps areas. Darrell has built a few IBM Worklight mobile Android apps and is discovering the vast world of open source and IBM solutions for DevOps. He enjoys building Eclipse extensions and modeling in UML. When not at work, he is trying to get his two daughters interested in computers and programming.
Visit Darrell's developerWorks profile
Read all of Darrell's developerWorks content
Read his blog, Software Development from Inside the Cubicle
Learn about the Author achievement recognition program Featured downloadsIBM Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management
The Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management (CLM) combines IBM® Rational Team Concert™, Rational® Quality Manager, Rational Requirements Composer into one image, which is available on the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. This image can help your software development team improve their productivity with integrated application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities. IBM Rational Focal Point
IBM® Rational® Focal Point™ provides market - and business-driven product and portfolio management tools that help executives and teams make the right decisions to deliver business, customer, and market value.Rational Requirements Composer
IBM Rational Requirements Composer (RRC) provides the essential business support for teams of all sizes and complexity to define and capture business needs and manage all types of requirements across the project lifecycle. It fosters better business and development collaboration in a web-based requirements community involving a wide set of stakeholders including customers, analysts, developers, testers, etc. Rational Requirements Composer is an important part of IBM’s Collaborative Lifecycle Management solution seamlessly integrated with Rational Team Concert and Rational Quality Manager. Through role-based access, project teams can shorten planning cycles and reduce rework cost by aligning development and test effort with requirements and business objectives.Rational Quality Manager
Rational Quality Manager, built on the Jazz platform, is a collaborative, web-based, quality management solution that offers comprehensive test planning and test asset management from requirements to defects. Featured WebcastsFeatured item
Get an introduction to the basics of Rational Rhapsody for systems engineering and Rational Rhapsody Developer.
This week, we're calling on Dr. Keith Collyer, Senior Solutions Manager and subject matter expert in requirements and systems engineering. Throughout much of his career, he has concentrated on helping both large and small organizations introduce requirements management. He trained as an electronic engineer and later moved into software development.
His interest in the "people" aspects led him into project management, quality assurance, and processes, never losing sight of the need to develop systems that meet real needs. This myriad of interests naturally led him to explore agile practices for systems engineers in our recently featured article Being agile while still being compliant.
Did you learn anything from writing your article and what was it?
I learnt that it isn't that hard to use agile in a regulated industry, providing you adopt a disciplined approach and define clearly what you want to achieve.
Why and how can agile and architecture co-exist?
They not only can coexist, they must. There is nothing contradictory about that. The ideas go back at least as far as David Parnas and Paul Clements's classic paper A Rational Design Process: How and Why to Fake It along with other work by Tom Gilb on evolutionary development.
What inspired you to write an article on this specific topic?
We had been talking around the topic for some time, and it became clear that our customer, Diagnostic Grifols, had very relevant experience. I think it was very important for us to have a joint article, as it shows that the approach really is being used in practice, it's not Rational making claims.
Which is in your opinion the area which lacks standardization most (either because of the absence of standardization or because of insufficient standards)?
This very area of standards for agile in regulated industries is very light. People are starting to realise that agile does not mean free-for-all and needs some control.
Which future standards do you think are important?
I think we will see more approaches, not sure that they will necessarily be standards, on how to apply agile principles to physical systems development. And hopefully the agilistas will learn from the systems people.
When he's not shaping the future of electronics and medical devices, his main interest is music. He plays bass guitar and recently did a small gig with a very talented young local singer-songwriter.
Questions for Keith about requirements management, or his thoughts posted here? Let him know in the comments.
A busy week ending in good news to share with you:
- The theme for Innovate 2013 was announced this week: Stay Ahead. Gina Poole, VP WW Marketing for Rational Software, shares her thoughts about it on her blog.
- The early-registration deadline is extended until April 2. Take advantage of this opportunity to save $300USD on your conference pass
Do you see anything else that's different about Innovate in this post?
Change is in the air here in Massachusetts. Winter is slowly but surely giving way to spring...or as we call it: mud season. I spent a little time during today's lunch break playing fetch with my Black Labrador Retriever, Molly. Her giant feet ensured that the yard has been properly trampled and muddied up. This is the time of year when we start to make our preparations for the warmer weather. High on our list is a seeding and fertilization regimen for the lawn to protect it from Molly.
Does the change in seasons prompt you to start planning, too? Here at developerWorks Rational we're deep in Innovate preparations. Have you registered yet? The early registration discount is expiring soon, don't miss it!
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We are pleased to feature Contributing Author Ritesh Nigam
Ritesh Nigam is a senior software engineer with eight years of experience in software development. He has been working as a senior developer for IBM Rational Change for more than five years. He also has experience in Java, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), Perl, and web technologies, such as Dojo toolkit, Ajax, web services, OSLC, and change and configuration management.
Visit Ritesh's developerWorks profile
Read all of Ritesh's developerWorks content
Learn about the Author achievement recognition program
IBM Rational Functional Tester is automated functional- and regression-testing software for QA teams concerned with the quality of their Java, web-based, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft .NET, terminal-based, SAP, Siebel, and Web 2.0 applications.DownloadsEvents
Sometimes we get in a rut and don't even know it. Today I'm working out of our Littleton, Mass office instead of my house because I needed a change of scenery. It's amazing what such a small change to the normal routine can do to shake you up. I've gotten so much done today. Could you be in a rut and not even know it? Try printing out an article and going somewhere relaxing to read it for a change instead of reading it on the screen. You just might see it differently.
Interested in more IBM Rational news?
Being agile while still being compliant
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Product: Rational Software ArchitectFeatured downloadsIBM Rational Team Concert
IBM Rational Team Concert, based on the Jazz platform, now supports any plan, any process, any platform. New formal planning templates support traditional project phases, while new risk management capabilities can be used by any traditional, agile or hybrid team. With a single release for all platforms, simple role-based user licensing, no charge for the server software, and new flexible pricing models, you are free to mix and match deployments to suit your particular environments. Rational Team Concert is free for up to 10 developers.Rational Test Workbench
IBM Rational Test Workbench delivers end-to-end functional, regression, load, and integration testing to address the quality challenges of highly complex applications. Registration and sales representative assistance required for access to the 30-day free trial. Register on Passport advantage today.IBM Rational Rhapsody
The IBM Rational Rhapsody software is available in different editions to help systems engineers and developers of embedded software analyze, design, develop, test, and deliver embedded, real-time systems and software.We are pleased to feature Contributing Author Fabio Castiglioni
Fabio Castiglioni is an Executive IT Architect with IBM Sales and Distribution in Italy. He has 30 years of experience in IT, 13 in development labs where he held technical and management positions in international projects. Earlier in his career, Fabio was Technical Director for research projects on object-oriented technologies, Senior IT Architect in major integration projects, and Technical Leader for the Government Industry for IBM South Europe. Fabio is one of the teachers of Component Modeling classes for IBM architects and has published several articles on the subject of nonfunctional requirements.Downloads
I have seen protracted discussion on the subject of metrics and measurements in
software development, both at clients and “around the water cooler” at Rational
and IBM. By this I mean developing,
viewing and leveraging measurements that inform us how well a software
development team or organization is doing their job, and how they might do that
job better. All too often, I observe at
my clients that they are taking few or no measurements to inform them how
they’re doing, or how they might improve.
Many in our industry have taken to calling this situation as “operating
open loop”. Of course, this refers to an
objective feedback loop that informs the organization how they’re doing.
do you measure your effectiveness? How
do you improve? What follows is some
notes on doing so, particularly relating to quality … what works, what helps,
what doesn’t work, etc.
1. Software quality is difficult to measure precisely ... but
that's ok, we simply must do our best, and our best turns out to be good
enough. What is not good enough is not
measuring ... and that's what most of our clients do.
2. Organizational resistance to measurements (any measurements)
is often quite strong. If someone has
not been getting measured, and s/he's comfortable, measurements are usually
seen as a threat. The perception is that
all they can do is demonstrate that the person is not doing as well as
3. Also, of course, it's easy to misuse measurements and
thus generate undesired behaviors. It is
critical that the organization convey to the staff why the measurements
are being implemented. The goal of
measures must be to help the organization better understand their business and
their progress toward objectives.
4. Douglas Hubbard has at least two useful books on the topic of
measurement in general, both of which we've found useful:
How to Measure Anything,
which basically says you can measure
it, whatever it is, and
The Failure of Risk
Management, which includes the following
interesting and powerful assertion: Everybody, everywhere, is focusing on
the least valuable measurements at the expense of the most valuable
5. It can be difficult to decide on the definition of quality
that is most important to leverage under whatever circumstances you have. There are at least 6 (!!) definitions of
quality we see commonly used.
Areté - fundamental excellence (see wikipedia, first
few paragraphs (or more if you're interested):
requirements match real need (which doesn't necessarily mean that the
requirements, even though they're "right", are properly implemented)
requirements (e.g. performance) match real need (usually used in conjunction
with the previous bullet)
The requirements are
complete (match all the real
The requirements and/or
implementation are not gold plated (nothing extra beyond all real need)
We have fewer, or zero,
defects (defect is also difficult
to define! Does defect mean
"doesn't meet requirements"?
Does it mean "doesn't meet real need?" (not the same in general) If you fail to meet a requirement that turns
out to be gold plating, is that a defect?
All that ...) This is the
definition I see most often used.
6. Discussing what to measure is a good first step, and this note
stops there, for now, and does not discuss subsequent steps. Once you have decided what to measure, there
is still much more work to do, even if substantial automation (such as a tool
like Rational Team Concert or HP Quality Center) is already at your disposal
and/or already in use
7. Therefore, as you might expect, build a plan, and then
execute the plan, and then plan to replan, and repeat and be iterative (another
full topic: iteration). Just like
More to come ...
Big preparations going on both at developerWorks and here in Massachusetts. Many of our systems are going offline for a few days next week due to a large software upgrade. Because of this, our next set of new articles will publish on the 19th. Here in Massachusetts we're undergoing a bit of a shut-down as well as we batten down the hatches and prepare for the incoming blizzard. Current snow totals range from 24-30 inches falling between Friday morning and midday on Saturday. I will see you all on the other side.
Interested in more IBM Rational news?
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Products: Rational Application Developer, Rational Functional Tester, Rational Method Composer, Rational Performance Tester, Rational Software Architect, Rational Quality Manager, Rational System Architect, Rational Developer for System z, Rational Test Workbench, Rational Test Virtualization Server, Rational Team Concert, Rational Asset Analyzer, COBOL
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We are pleased to feature Contributing Author Murali Dhandapani
Murali Dhandapani is part of the Operations Software Engineering Service team at IBM Software Labs, in India. He is an IBM Certified IT Specialist in System Management and a technical lead for infrastructure deployment of IBM Rational® Jazz™ technology-based products. In addition to his articles for developerWorks, he has co-authored a couple of IBM Redbooks about the IBM PowerHA® SystemMirror for AIX, a high-availability cluster management solution. Murali is interested in learning, leveraging, and working with new technologies.
This week we are also highlighting the following items on our home page and product pages that you may find of interest.
Rational Focal Point, a market- and business-driven product and portfolio management tool for application portfolio management, delivery management, and product management, is now available for you to try in a sandbox environment on developerWorks:
IBM Rational Developer for System z gives System z developers tools for traditional mainframe development and for integrated, mixed workloads. An interactive, workstation-based environment lets you connect to a mainframe and develop mainframe-based applications in COBOL, PL/I, Assembler, C/C++, and Java code, as well as workstation-based applications in COBOL, PL/I, and Java code.
Recently, Cindy Krauss, Jon Sayles and I participated on an IBM Systems Magazine webcast.
We called it "10 things you’ll want to know about Rational development tools before you start that project". You can watch it at this link.
The webcast tried to take a quick dive into the most interesting and helpful aspects of Rational Developer for System z (RDz) and a few other related tools.
During the webcast, we got a ton of questions and we didn't have a chance to answer all of them. I've asked Cindy, Jon (and I) to answer the questions after the webcast and we're going to put them here for everyone to take advantage of.
There are plenty of questions, so I'll post a few of the questions and answers at a time. Hopefully we can continue the conversation in the comments to this blog.
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We are pleased to feature Contributing Author Monica Luke
Monica Luke lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area. With more than 20 years experience in software engineering, she joined IBM Rational software 10 years ago in the test organization. During her 17 years as a test automation engineer and architect, she has repeatedly tackled the tough problems of building test automation solutions through frameworks that last and build triggered test solutions for complete lights-out testing. Testing and test automation remain a passion, and that has led Monica to move into the product management organization, where she has the opportunity to tackle these tough problems in the testing tools. Using an outside-in scenario design approach, Monica is happily influencing the next wave of Rational testing tools.
Paul has more than 25 years experience in developing systems, software, and hardware in the embedded and real-time systems industry. He is an OMG Certified Systems Modeling Professional Model User, and a senior systems market manager for IBM Rational software and has worked with Rational software in various roles since 1995. Paul is a prolific author on developerWorks and has earned the Contributing Author badge.
We also highlighted the following items on our home page and product pages that you may find of interest.
IBM® Rational® Software Architect is an advanced and comprehensive application design, modeling and development tool for end-to-end software delivery. The latest version is updated with the latest in design and modeling technologies, comprehensive support for emerging technologies around BPMN2, SOA and Java™ Enterprise Edition 5, and delivers the best of breed tooling that integrates with IBM's application lifecycle management solutions. Evaluations available for Linux, Windows, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Ubuntu, and Mac OS.
Learn how design management contributes to collaborative lifecycle management for IT organizations.
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