z/OS a Key Player in the DevOps Paradigm

Though enterprise IT departments are constantly evolving, IT environments need to continue to be incredibly fast, yet reliable. DevOps has emerged as a critical component of IT by providing quick responses to business needs while keeping essential systems stable.

z/OS can play an important role in the DevOps model. From tapping into existing information assets to exploiting the strengths of the platform in new ways, the qualities of z/OS can provide substantial benefit to the DevOps approach. There are also significant challenges in this space, however, especially when the sanctity of core legacy systems is involved.

Randy Frerking and Richard Jackson, technical experts at Walmart Technology, discussed these challenges in a SHARE Academy keynote session. They stressed the importance of communication and collaboration through DevOps practices.

The Communication Gap

In a typical IT environment, they explained, the developers and operators tend to be separated from each other and may believe they are at odds. Developers are looking to add new functionalities while evolving existing applications and business capabilities. Operators, on the other hand, are focused on maintaining the existing system.

Ultimately, developers and operators are both focused on providing quality to the business, but there is a significant failure to communicate. Developers feel that operators won’t easily agree to let them make changes, operators feel that developers lack a sense of ownership once they ship, and these attitudes continue in an unproductive cycle.

Left to its own devices, this cycle can be fatal. That’s where DevOps comes in. As the intersection between development, operations, and quality assurance, DevOps is a culture built on communication and collaboration. Keeping an open mind to tackling the communication problem helps foster collaboration, leading to a partnership where the teams work together to create.

Cloud Computing Delivery Model

At Walmart, Richard and Randy have learned how to successfully lead a DevOps team. A key to that success is using the cloud computing delivery model to provide their services. The five characteristics of this model (on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service) are used as a yardstick for everything they deliver. One of the benefits of running their service on z/OS is that four of those five characteristics are built into the platform, so they don’t have to go out of their way to achieve them.

Isolation Capability Helps Build Trust

z/OS’s reputation as the gold standard for virtualization capabilities is another reason DevOps teams gravitate toward the platform. Employing isolation techniques alleviates operators’ concerns about developers messing everything up. z/OS allows you to isolate address spaces, LPARS, and even tenants at a single tenant level. With z/OS, you can isolate new services from existing legacy regions, so that if something were to go awry, it wouldn’t impact the legacy system.

As a result, teams can get new, dynamic functionality closer to some of the older technologies, with a high level of confidence that they won’t disrupt existing systems. By relying on the robust virtualization characteristics of the z/OS platform, you can increase trust, and improve the relationship between development and operations groups.

Above all, Richard and Randy emphasized the importance of communication and collaboration. Without these soft tools, they said, it doesn’t matter what kind of hard tools you have – things just won’t work.

z/OS Immersion

And as we gear up for SHARE Providence 2017 this August, the z/OS Security Essentials Bootcamp is being offered to allow participants expand their knowledge of how z/OS integrity plays a critical part in the overall system and data security of their organization. Mark Wilson, Paul Robichaux, Phil Emrich, and Eysha Shirrine Powers will lead participants through a series of lecture and demo sessions focused on the skills needed to perform their own integrity/security review. This will include the tools available, the development of an integrity plan, and more. 

Watch Richard and Randy’s full keynote presentation “z/OS and DevOps: Communication, Culture and Cloud,” as well as other presentations about DevOps, in the SHARE Content Center.

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