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Blog > October 2020 > Remove JCL Management Complexity with Modern Tools and DevOps

Remove JCL Management Complexity with Modern Tools and DevOps

For large enterprises and government agencies that rely on IBM Z mainframes to run mission-critical applications and data, maintaining an error-free, standardized and optimized job control language (JCL) environment is highly important. As a powerful scripting language, JCL is essential for running mainframe applications, but it’s also extremely difficult to work with.

The Essential Language that Was Never Meant to Be

Take it from Dr. Frederick Phillips Brooks, Jr., who helped develop the JCL programming language. In his 2010 book The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist, Brooks writes:

A vivid example of expert failure is IBM’s Operating System/360 Job Control Language (JCL), now known as MVS Job Control Language for z/OS. It is, I am convinced, the worst computer programming language ever devised by anybody, anywhere. It was developed under my supervision; there is blame enough to go around among all the supervisory levels.

Ouch! Explaining further as to why he has a tremendous aversion to JCL, Brooks writes, “JCL is really hard to learn and use.” He also points out why that may be the case: “We did not see it as a programming language. From the beginning it was seen as a few control cards that would go in front of your deck.”

“Deck” as in a punched card deck, which would be fed into a computing machine to instruct it on what actions to take.


File:Punched card program deck.agr.jpg" by ArnoldReinhold is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The difficulty of JCL today leaves enterprises with challenges that are beginning to impede mainframe application development quality, velocity and efficiency—and ultimately business agility. Considering most enterprises are increasing mainframe workloads, rather than investing vast amounts of time, effort and money to migrate off the platform, JCL is only going to become more essential. Organizations must find a way to make it more manageable.

Modernizing JCL Management with DevOps

JCL may be inherently difficult, but the management of JCL doesn’t have to be. As with other aspects of mainframe application development, the solution to JCL complexity is not found in somehow altering JCL to be less complex; the solution is to make JCL easier to manage for all developers. This is especially important for those new to the mainframe who are taking over critical functions like JCL management from older peers who are leaving the workforce.

This is the approach ASG has taken with our JCL management products ASG-PRO/JCL, ideal for parallel sysplex z/OS environments, and ASG-JOB/SCAN, ideal for single-system sysplex z/OS environments. These solutions automate JCL error detection, standards enforcement and routine changes to ensure error-free batch processing. They also provide DevOps enablement—standard with ASG-PRO/JCL and recently released as an optional add-on for ASG-JOB/SCAN—which allows you to include JCL in your DevOps toolchain and further empowers developers to manage JCL with ease.

Learn More About ASG JCL Management

DevOps enablement includes an Eclipse plugin for desktop integrated development environments (IDE) like Compuware Topaz® Workbench and IBM IDz. The ability to manage JCL within a modern front end simplifies maintenance and support tasks, saving developers time and easing their experience. DevOps enablement also includes a RESTful web services API that enables API-level automation of JCL scans from ASG’s automation solutions and other automation tools like Jenkins.

Description: ASG-PRO/JCL with Compuware Topaz Workbench IDE for DevOps JCL management

Manage JCL with ease using ASG-PRO/JCL within Compuware Topaz Workbench

ASG customers are already reaping the benefits of DevOps enablement for JCL management. According to a development manager at a global financial services company, “The Eclipse plug-in opens doors to maximize our mainframe DevOps tooling by allowing developers to validate their JCL from within one interface.” Many other customers have expressed the same need, and ASG has answered the call.

Dr. Brooks may be correct in his analysis of JCL, that it is an unwieldy language in a role it was never intended to fill at the outset. But stopping at that conclusion doesn’t solve the problem of JCL management for enterprises that will continue to rely on the language. As JCL management continues to be essential to your mainframe application development and, therefore, your enterprise agility, rest assured ASG will continue to advance our JCL management offerings.

Posted: 10/20/2020 8:00:00 AM by Anna Murray - Senior Product Manager
Filed under :DevOps, JCL, JCL_Management, JOB/SCAN, PRO/JCL