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IBM tools speed mainframe application modernization projects

IBM has released new versions of its application modernization tools designed to bring its Z series of mainframe applications in closer alignment with its development pipeline.

Looking to reduce the risks associated with mainframe application modernization projects, IBM has delivered updated versions of tools that let non-IBM Z developers analyze changes they make as they progress through projects.

The new version of IBM Wazi Analyze, announced Monday, can bring IBM Z more directly into the application development pipeline by unlocking processes and standards that have transferrable skills for non-Z programmers that are scattered across an enterprise. The update helps developers both discover and analyze relationships among components of z/OS-compatible applications and assess the impact of any proposed changes.

In concert with Wazi 1.2, the company debuted Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence (ADDI) for IBM Z V6, which can accelerate development and modernization by allowing developers to gain more granular insight into a mission-critical application. The new version also presents a step-by-step analysis immediately after a code change has been made. The update also has improved Assembler support, which analyzes multi-level dynamic assembler macro calls. IBM is making a set of APIs available for the product in order to make the integration between the analysis and CI/CD pipeline possible.

"If you look at our hybrid cloud strategy, IBM Z is becoming foundational for that strategy, a key differentiator," said Tom McPherson, vice president of IBM Z Software. "We're driving a shift in the corporate culture [of IBM] toward refocusing both inward and outward on being a technology company."

Modernization a motivation

Increasingly, IBM's larger IT shops are decentralizing their operations across multiple platforms, including on premises and private, public and hybrid clouds. As they do, they look to not only better scale their operations but to also derive more value from the data no matter what platform it resides, using tools such as Red Hat's OpenShift.

"Our view is, we are giving users tools to manage and curate data, as well as modernize applications in places where the data and applications reside," McPherson said. "This is a somewhat different approach compared to the ones other cloud providers are doing."

Part of IBM's motivation is to keep hold of longtime mainframe users tempted to move their data off their legacy systems and over to the cloud-based environments of archrivals such as AWS and Microsoft.

"It all comes down to modernization," said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates. "They need to keep those customers who want to dump their mainframes because their mainframe applications aren't flexible enough. Those customers could prove to be a valuable competitive asset for IBM moving forward."

Users were in the planning stages of digital transformation projects before the pandemic. But when COVID hit, they realized they could no longer proceed incrementally.
Judith HurwitzPresident, Hurwitz & Associates

COVID-19 has provided additional incentive for IBM mainframe shops to modernize, with many starting digital transformation projects to accommodate users forced to work from home offices.

"Many users were in the planning stages of digital transformation projects before the pandemic," Hurwitz said. "But when COVID hit, they realized they could no longer proceed incrementally; they were feeling pressure to move a lot faster on those projects, which meant taking a closer look at their mainframes."

In related news, IBM announced it has signed a licensing agreement with ITP Software Systeme GmbH, based in Munich, to enhance DevOps for IBM Z Hybrid Cloud. The deal includes IBM's ADDI Z V6 and Wazi Developer 1.2. Through its collaboration with ITP, IBM will be able to deliver application analysis on IBM Z and Red Hat OpenShift, along with on-demand project level analysis as part of its DevOps pipeline to developers.

As editor at large with TechTarget's News Group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals. He also worked for 26 years at InfoWorld and Computerworld, covering enterprise-class products and technologies from larger IT companies, including IBM and Microsoft, and served as editor of Redmond for three years, overseeing that magazine's editorial content.

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