Become a DevOps rock star

You’re always looking for ways to build new applications smarter, better and faster. The more roadblocks you remove and the more dependencies you uncover, the more effectively you can do your job. Want to learn how today’s trailblazing agile developers drive innovation and efficiency? Check out the ten tips below.

1. Increase customer value with every enhancement

“The goal in analyzing an application is determining how it provides value to the customer.”

Richard Hintz, Consultant, Works@Scale

Richard Hintz

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Richard Hintz’s take: “When one analyzes a legacy application to determine what functions should be migrated to replacement services or retired, the most important point is understanding how each function provides value to the customer as well as how responsive the service is to changing customer needs or regulatory requirements. While there may be interest in reducing technical debt in the application by removing outdated logic or decomposing into focused services using microservice principles, in the end the reason for changing the application is to increase its business value with enhancements. The business will also benefit if the application is made more flexible and easy to change, allowing more rapid adjustments to business needs.”

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IBM’s take: It’s tempting to remove old parts of an application when migrating it to a new system. You’ll save time — but at what cost? Having a clear view into the application will make it easier to migrate all of its components without diminishing its value.

2. Make dependencies visible

“Beware of time bombs with long, slow-burning fuses.”

J. Robert Garrett, Director, Operating Systems Programming, Fidelity Investments

J. Robert Garrett

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J. Robert Garrett’s take: “In a large, complex, and heterogeneous environment that has developed and evolved over decades, coupled with the realities of normal staff turnover, it is difficult to be certain that one has a complete understanding of where all the tendrils of an application run. There may be functions that are executed very infrequently that have forgotten connections and dependencies that will rise up to bite you long after you think you've wrapped a modernization project, only to cause significant impact to your business. Gaining a complete understanding of all the dependencies and connections embodied in any application is critical.”

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IBM’s take: In complex environments, it’s often hard to see how everything is connected. Even if you think you understand an application well, it might have a seldom-used function that could break. With modernization projects, aim to get the clearest possible view into how everything is connected.

3. Tighten database/application integration

“Application and database changes must be tightly coupled and orchestrated in tandem for successful DevOps.”

Craig Mullins, President & Principal Consultant, Mullins Consulting

Craig Mullins

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Craig Mullins’ take: “As the continuous delivery model for applications gains momentum and acceptance, a tighter integration between application and database change will be required. Many application changes rely on changes to database structures, whether new columns, adjustment to data type and size, or even indexes for performance. These changes should be tightly coupled to the application changes that drive them. This should include delivering the changes, but also backing them out in the instances when that is necessary. This is more difficult than it may, at first, seem because some database changes are complex requiring structures, authorizations and data to be dropped and recreated. Automation of all of these steps - and integration with the application changes - is imperative for successful DevOps.”

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IBM’s take: The continuous delivery model brings new challenges. For example, if the new version of an application demands structural changes to an existing database, how do you roll out these changes seamlessly? One approach is to automate this process.

4. Champion change management

“ADDI helps applications to become understandable, readable and traceable again.”

Gery Put, Consultant, Methods & Application Modernization

Gery Put

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Gery Put’s take: “Convincing z/OS people to enter the world of DevOps isn’t just a matter of implementing tools. Over the years they get stuck in their old habits and refuse to allow changes. Convincing technical people is not only about showing numbers and figures. Show them proof. ADDI is a great helping hand into the discovery of their applications. The huge amount of legacy code will become understandable, readable and traceable again. They immediately see the advantages when they get insights into their applications that they may have forgotten about over the years. The fear of changing legacy code can be conquered.”

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IBM’s take: Without clear visibility into applications, it’s hard to convince your peers that new technology will make their lives easier. When you gain that visibility and the advantages are easy to understand, the case for rewriting legacy code becomes obvious and the path to change is clear.

5. Ensure accurately managed environments

“It is a fool’s errand to attempt to manage today’s diverse and demanding application and system environments ‘the old way.’”

Dez Blanchfield, Chief Data Scientist, GaraGuru

Dez Blanchfield

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Dez Blanchfield’s take: “There can be little doubt that modern systems and applications can only be appropriately managed and maintained with modern day tools. Delivering innovation while controlling both cost and risk through development, operations and support teams to ensure appropriate rapid automated testing, managing configuration, environments, data, and implementation deployment pipeline requires what some might have once considered impossible. With ADDI, organizations can now meet the challenge of dramatically simplifying the task of scanning application interdependencies, building change management strategies and implementing effective digital transformation processes by leveraging the API economy and hybrid cloud migration via APIs, then correlating them with runtime operational performance data to achieve cognitive DevOps.”

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IBM’s take: Gone are the days of managing rapidly changing applications with a mix of guesswork and blind faith. Modern software development and analytics tools make it much easier for you to manage environments, configurations and data while delivering application analytics at scale. Today, your team can innovate while controlling cost and risk.

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6. Embrace test-driven deployment

“An Agile and DevOps track lets us move forward and stay focused on priorities."

Chuck Howard, Business Development Manager, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance

Chuck Howard

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Chuck Howard’s take: “We were a legacy shop that did all our testing and gave it to the business unit for approval. We began to realize that test cases didn’t match and quality wasn’t as good as it should be. We went down an infrastructure path with a test-driven deployment strategy, and began exploring an Agile and DevOps track. This became a path that made everything more transparent, improved relationships with the business unit and allowed us to move forward. It has let us stay focused on priorities.”

IBM’s take: Modern environments call for new methods. Testing in isolation, shielded from production-environment code coverage and workloads, can produce haphazard results and miss issues. To ensure consistent quality, embrace test-driven deployment.

7. Modernize mainframe development

“Start building application insight, development agility and test infrastructure today to deliver the mainframe systems of tomorrow.”

Torger Thevik, Partner, Head of Enterprise Modernization, Xact

Torger Thevik

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Torger Thevik’s take: “For years, the perception has been that development for the mainframe cannot follow the same processes and rules as for other platforms. For other platforms, development has moved towards an agile process where deliveries are deployed frequently in small batches, while mainframe development has stayed slow, centralized, cumbersome and characterized by large batches and low agility. We have worked to make development for the mainframe server just as simple and intuitive as other development processes, using new tools for change processes, documentation, testing, and feedback systems. All this will tear down the walls, enabling development for mainframe and other platforms into one unified process, while preserving the stability, predictability and quality of the mainframe deployments.”

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IBM’s take: Agile development methods are a natural choice when working on the cloud, but may feel out of step with mainframe development. Too often, your team works one way on cloud applications and another on mainframe applications. When teams collaborate, share resources and cooperate in multiple environments, they do efficient, consistently excellent work.

8. Battle complexity by gaining visibility

“ADDI helps you focus brain power on the business challenges rather than memorizing code.”

Rami Kattan, ADDI Architect, IBM and Co-founder, EZSource

Rami Kattan

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Rami Kattan’s take: “The codebase of big enterprises is like the world’s biggest public library. A medium-size program is like a book with 300 pages, which is challenging to read and keep track of. Big enterprises are running hundreds of applications, which fill floors of rooms in the library. Floors of books for mainframe, Java, mobile and cloud code, all try to reference each other through APIs. Can individuals keep track of everything using their memory? It is evident that with today’s technology a computer can scan the whole codebase daily and update what changes in it. It can present all possible relations from within a single program to how programs, transactions or applications connect with each other through graphs reports and interactive usage views. ADDI does exactly that and more.”

IBM’s take: Large enterprises have more code and relationships than any one person can possibly track. This becomes especially apparent when you have to share enterprise knowledge with new team members. The right software can keep track of applications and their various relationships, making this process much simpler.

9. Get effective impact analysis

“Incomplete understanding leads to high response time to business change due to ineffective impact analysis, incomplete end-to-end testing and not so obvious performance issues.”

Adarsh Khanna, Senior Technology Architect, Infosys

Adarsh Khanna

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Adarsh Khanna’s take: “Application Discovery performs static inventory analysis to visually represent all types of flows/graphs and interdependencies. One of its best features is its ability to create complexity reports and an impact analysis document that can be plugged into the estimation model. Delivery Intelligence visually represents test efficiency from code coverage reports and performance metrics and its correlation across historical test data at application and program level. It can identify tests for maximum code coverage, enabling fewer tests to run and thereby saving time. ADDI further enables DevOps adoption by providing a clear understanding of mainframe applications with a single view of test and performance metrics.”

IBM’s take: To adapt, organizations must understand their applications: functional and technical complexities, functional overlaps, capability and interface dependencies, embedded business rules, and the cascading impact of changes. Without this understanding, it can take too long to respond to business changes.

10. Conquer fear of the unknown

“Dream big. Start small. Know where you are. And most importantly, why.”

Antonio Aguila Jr., Emerging Mainframe Technology Global Capability Lead, Accenture

Antonio Aguila Jr.

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Antonio Aguila Jr.’s take: “Fear of the unknown, and whether to do it yourself or get the right partner in modernization and discovery efforts, are typical concerns. Any application modernization strategy is heavily scrutinized, not only on the merits of the solution, but also sometimes based on the agenda (hidden or otherwise) of the sponsors. There are also a lot of urban legends and unconscious bias on modernization efforts on both sides of the fence. Whether it be on the complexity and total cost of ownership of the legacy applications, it is difficult to weed out noise versus factual information in order to come up with the optimal modernization strategy.”

IBM’s take: When organizations modernize applications, everyone seems to have an opinion on the plan. Whether the project is to remediate, rationalize, or re-platform, not having clear information can muddy the waters. Information helps teams move past the fear of the unknown, set aside preexisting biases and develop a better strategy.

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