Top Developer Survey Insights for Mainframe Leaders
Proven and widely available, mainframe leaders can take advantage of modern developer productivity tools, ones often used by distributed/cloud colleagues for AppDev and DevOps optimization. The question, though, is which ones offer the greatest value?
Tools and frameworks like Zowe, Code4z, Test4z, and Endevor Bridge for Git and Team Build open the mainframe to new models, like DevOps, which are powered by purpose-built, open source tools. To learn more about DevOps for mainframe modernization, check out the 15 use cases highlighted in this new eBook.
CIO and CTO organizations typically establish corporate standards to maximize organization-wide productivity and manage support costs but it can be helpful to track even bigger-picture market trends.
Stack Overflow, the Q&A platform used by over 100 million people to share technical knowledge, has published the results of its annual developer survey for over a decade now. Respondents to the latest edition include over 53,000 developers who self-identify as professionals.
With relatively few Q&A discussions on topics like COBOL, JCL and CICS on Stack Overflow, mainframe developers may represent a lower percentage of respondents. Nevertheless, the survey offers insights useful for modernization planning and execution. Awareness of overall trends can help determine which standards are the most relevant for mainframe AppDev and DevOps adoption (e.g., available next-gen skill sets).
The following are highlights from the recent survey and actions recommended for mainframe AppDev leaders considering modernization.
CI/CD & DevOps Availability
Approximately 70% of professional developers report the availability of CI/CD and almost 60% have a DevOps function. CI/CD pipeline tools like Jenkins and comparable ones from GitHub, Azure and Atlassian are widely used and are becoming enterprise standards for software delivery. DevOps Centers of Excellence have become commonplace in the enterprise.
ACTION: Engage with your internal DevOps function to learn about the toolchain standards and availability of specific pipeline tools like code scanners. Leveraging pipeline orchestrators and component tools for mainframe applications is possible with, among other options, the Zowe CLI.
Automated Testing Availability
Manual testing is far too common in mainframe AppDev so the opportunity to use test automation frameworks used elsewhere in the organization offers real potential. At 58%, automated testing is roughly as prevalent as the DevOps function.
ACTION: Like the DevOps function, engage internal experts regarding the preferred testing frameworks (there are many spanning the full range of QA!). You can leverage these frameworks with Zowe-powered Test4z, a set of APIs that enable ‘open-first’ test automation.
VS Code Dominance
Among IDEs/code editors, the popularity and success of VS Code continue to be stunning. Its popularity — described as an overnight success a decade in the making — is up to 75% from 71% last year while Eclipse once again fell to 12% from 15%. The pool of talent experienced with VS Code continues to grow, offering mainframe AppDev teams a rich set of skills to harness.
ACTION: Have technical leads investigate related hosted options like GitHub Codespaces. While not widely deployed in the enterprise yet, they eliminate the need for workstation configuration (i.e., no maintenance) and for the code to be resident on the developer workstation. These tools present an opportunity for mainframe teams to lead the organization by becoming early adopters. [check out this Codespaces blog]
ACTION: Identify a preferred scripting language, or small set, for mainframe automation, preferably ones with an existing talent pool. For reference, Zowe currently offers SDKs for Node.js, Python, Kotlin, Java, and Swift.
With the Zowe CLI, teams should consider building out centralized and curated script libraries to enable all team members to maximize productivity.
Git Version Control
Outside of mainframe AppDev, Git is dominant — even more so than VS Code. According to the survey, Git is used by 97% of professional developers (remember, the survey likely skews towards cloud/distributed developers who use Stack Overflow constantly). It is, however, interesting to see the breakdown of the leading Git enterprise server vendors. GitHub, which is now part of Microsoft, established a big early lead by becoming the de facto choice of open source projects.
ACTION: Connect with AppDev and DevOps leadership to evaluate the use of your enterprise Git server, whether GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket or Azure DevOps, for mainframe apps. If your team currently uses Endevor, your path forward is clear. Bridge for Git and Team Build open the world of collaborative development to mainframe teams.
The survey insights provide a starting point. The challenge of where and how to modernize is unique for each team and should begin with a thoughtful and pragmatic approach that builds broad stakeholder support.
ACTION: Partner with colleagues to assess the many modernization opportunities and create a roadmap. To help teams evaluate the options, we created an interactive toolkit: start your journey with the comprehensive DevOps Modernization eBook.
What are your thoughts about the survey? Feel free to comment.
For more about Mainframe Modernization, check out the Modern Mainframe blogsite.