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Blog > April 2021 > Arch2Arch: Modernizing Mainframe Development

Arch2Arch: Modernizing Mainframe Development

In this month’s Architect to Architect (Arch2Arch) series, I had the pleasure of chatting with Parveen Mehta, the Chief Architect for ASG’s Systems group. In true Arch2Arch fashion, we discussed the quality of ASG products, the benefits they bring to our customers and a behind-the-scenes look at our process. The focus of this conversation, though, was how ASG has transformed our mainframe solutions to embrace modern practices.

Having moved from distributed cloud to mainframe, Parveen provides especially valuable insight into how ASG aligns practices across our entire portfolio – bringing our learnings from SaaS to mainframe development and vice versa. Parveen has embraced this alignment in several use cases, including real-time data validations, application integration, ETL and post-processing of data. At ASG, each of these use cases fall under system management. For Parveen, it has been exciting to bring experiences from distributed cloud and distributed systems to ASG and apply them to system management projects.

A priority at ASG is ensuring mainframe is not regarded as a “second-rate citizen” or brushed off as a legacy product. From security to modern APIs, quality must be uniform across our entire tech stack. That is why we have identified and addressed top challenges for modern development on the mainframe:

Applying the same standards across mainframe and non-mainframe projects. ASG handles this challenge by decoupling applications and data. We adopt ways to distribute architecture where possible.

Exposing real-time data to a non-z system. Any expert, in any industry, has faced this challenge for years. ASG is adopting data streaming technologies to handle this, such as opensource or even commercial off-the-shelf solutions. We are empowering our customers to leverage data from disparate systems.

Improving developer experience. ASG wants to foster the use of IDE and programming languages such as Python. We don’t want to limit ourselves to assembler coding, for instance, that is available on the mainframe. Our priority is always using the best code for the job.

Promoting agility with DevOps. Sometimes, it will take months to develop a feature on mainframe. ASG wants to cut that timeline down. To achieve this, automation and consistency are key, as is improving the production chain.

In overcoming these challenges, ASG has established four tracks to development modernization:

  1. Expose current assets – enabling on-demand access to applications and data through modern RESTful APIs and implementing data sharing through the use of streaming technologies.
  2. Modernize DevOps – creating a common development environment experience by integrating with opensource tools, such as BitBucket and Jenkins.
  3. Layer architecture – following an API-first approach and building simple web-based user interfaces that are customizable and mobile compatible.
  4. Transform core assets – incremental refactoring to transform applications to comply with modern constructs in z/OS.

To learn how ASG puts these pathways into place, and follows them in our work, watch the full Arch2Arch webinar here