Fortifying Mainframe Operational Resilience through a CI/CD Pipeline Approach – Infrastructure Matters

Fortifying Mainframe Operational Resilience through a CI/CD Pipeline Approach - Infrastructure Matters

On this episode of Infrastructure Matters, host Steven Dickens is joined by Anthony Anter, Technology Solutions Director and Tim Ceradsky, Director of Software Consulting for BMC Software. The discussion focuses on the strategic importance of weaving operational resilience into the fabric of the mainframe development lifecycle through the CI/CD pipeline.

Their discussion covers:

  • Key steps in the CI/CD pipeline to enhance mainframe system resilience
  • Tailoring automated testing suites for mainframe environments within the CI/CD pipeline
  • Optimized deployment strategies for mainframe operations resilience
  • Implementing rigorous monitoring protocols to bolster mainframe operational resilience
  • The crucial role of collaboration between development and operations teams in integrating resilience measures

Learn more at BMC Software.

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Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.


Steven Dickens: Hello and welcome to another episode of Infrastructure Matters. I’m joined today by Tim and Anthony from BMC. Hey guys, welcome to the show.

Anthony Anter: Thank you Steve. Glad to be here.

Tim Ceradsky: Thank you.

Steven Dickens: Topic today, and it’s an interesting one, I think. I spent a bunch of time getting briefed by you, Anthony. You always give me a really great perspective from the DevEx portfolio and where the developer’s going, but we’re seeing the regulatory frameworks change. We’ve seen DORA not only just in Europe, but a global impact coming through. So, I think what I want to drill down in today is where that CICD pipeline and the developer focus impacts onto resilience. Maybe Tim, thoughts?

Tim Ceradsky: I think the interesting shift that we’re seeing in the industry around this is that, people have to start thinking in a bigger picture. They have to build resiliency into their strategy, into their architecture, earlier than maybe they had in the past. Because if you think about it, mainframe had a big-

Steven Dickens: Build for resilience, basically?

Tim Ceradsky: Right, exactly. Build for that. Because, when you’re on the mainframe and that’s all you have to worry about, you’re on basically a single system. So, as long as you protect your mainframe and you protect the core services, you pretty much can rest assured that your applications will continue to work, because all your core services are right there. But, that’s not the world we live in today, mainframe and other.

Steven Dickens: More connected? More attached?

Tim Ceradsky: More connected, more web services. What are you going to do when your AWS service has an outage? What are you going to do when your network provider has an outage? What is your plan for how to do that? How does that affect how you design your applications, in such a way that you are resilient to whatever could potentially happen to you?

That thought process, that reliability engineering, really makes you take a step back and think about the whole process. Then, we blend that with the DevOps, because now you have to think about, how do you ensure that you’re testing for that, that you’re checking on that every step of the way, and your automation isn’t just about building the little piece parts, it’s about ensuring that you have the feedback loops that feed that as well?

Steven Dickens: That end-to-end view?

Tim Ceradsky: Yes.

Steven Dickens: Tony, you do a great job of being that voice of the developer. You’ve seen that designing for resilience starting to come through?

Anthony Anter: Yeah, there’s that old saying, security is everybody’s job. If you’ve worked in anywhere, security is everybody’s job. Well, it’s coming to be that resilience is everybody’s job.

Steven Dickens: Is DORA driving that, do you think? Or, is it wider than that?

Anthony Anter: I think DORA is a catalyst to it. I don’t know that it’s driving it, driving it. But, I think now DORA put some bones around, why is resilience top of mind?

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Anthony Anter: Now, that said, you have to… like Tim is alluding to, resilience is something you have to build into your architecture day one. Just like with any other platform, CICD needs to take that into account. Your pipelines, your processes need to take into account not just resilience of the application… the end application in production, and how do I make sure that if there’s an outage, if there’s a problem, I can quickly and easily resolve that without… no muss, no fuss… but also resilience of your DevOps platform. What happens if there’s an issue and my DevOps platform can’t operate, and my DevOps platform can’t go down? So, you have to build resilience at every level of this as you’re going up, in order to make sure that you are able to react to any problems that may come up.

Steven Dickens: One of the things we’re seeing is automated testing as part of that CICD pipeline. Obviously, we’re going down a level there in the detail.

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Steven Dickens: But, do you see that fitting within that wider context?

Anthony Anter: Yeah, absolutely. Everyone thinks my testing is just, I write a test script, and I pass in two plus two into my application and four comes out. “Hey, it all works.” But, you need to put in testing towards that resiliency. Your automated testing needs to make sure that your system can handle things like services being out, capabilities being down, negative-case testing, what happens if-

Steven Dickens: Easy for you to say, right-

Anthony Anter: Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. Maybe hard to say and hard to do in some cases, but it’s necessary. You have to build in that negative loop to see, how is my system going to react? I think your mature DevOps organizations, this is what they think about, this is what they do.

Steven Dickens: Tim, I’m seeing that lead into more rigorous monitoring tools throughout the CICD pipeline. Are you seeing the same thing?

Tim Ceradsky: Oh, absolutely. Because here’s the real, let’s say, emphasis of automation and CICD pipelines, and automation in any respect. It’s okay if you can do something once, right? Automation means that you’re creating the environment where you do it 1,000 times.

Steven Dickens: Yep.

Tim Ceradsky: And that you repeat the results-

Steven Dickens: Repeat results.

Tim Ceradsky: And the repeatable results, because then you use observability of that data, of those results, and you make decisions on what you’re seeing, and use that to then feed your next development decisions. That’s the infinity loop of DevOps.

Steven Dickens: Yep.

Tim Ceradsky: Honestly, it’s a part that often gets missed when companies get started. They really tend to focus heavily on the development side of things, and trying to build things, to take them from change to production. But, it’s really important to understand that feedback loop needs to come back through and say, “Okay, but let’s make sure we’re monitoring our performance. Did we improve performance over time?

Trending analysis? Are we starting to experience problems with that? Are data patterns growing in such a way that we need to make a plan change ahead of time and get ahead of that curve, and so on?” So, observability, being able to make decisions, being able to leverage artificial intelligence with that in a measured, reasonable way, really helps you build a solid resiliency into your overall environment, because you’re taking into account all these different factors.

Anthony Anter: I think, to your question about this is where DORA is pushing the merging of dev and ops, DevOps was always supposed to be a merging of dev and ops. Now, DORA is forcing everyone’s hand to truly embrace this handoff between the two, and the feedback.

Tim Ceradsky: Yep.

Steven Dickens: Are you seeing that come through in the collaboration? The tools are great, the tools that you guys produce are powering this, but unless you get that collaboration between dev and ops, you can’t really architect for resilience.

Anthony Anter: Right.

Steven Dickens: Are you starting to see that come through with the people side, as well as the tool side?

Tim Ceradsky: I was going to say, it’s always been a culture-

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: … issue.

Anthony Anter: That’s always number one.

Tim Ceradsky: DevOps is a culture problem-

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: … first and foremost. If your people aren’t empowered, and they’re not engaged, and they don’t see the value of this, they’re going to pay lip service to it.

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: I’ve seen so many companies, that an executive reads this article about Agile, or they read this article about DevOps, and they go to their IT team, and their IT team, they don’t want to deal with it and they just simply go, “Oh yeah, we do that. We are already doing that. You know, it’s different words, but we do the same thing.”

Steven Dickens: They’re not really doing it, basically.

Anthony Anter: Right.

Tim Ceradsky: They’re not actually doing it. It’s very easy for us, in any line of business, to rationalize what we’re doing as, “Oh, well, that’s what we’re doing.” But, when you really stop to think about the benefits of this and the process, that it puts us in a more competitive state, and it allows us to execute better. That’s what’s important about all this. Whatever words and buzzwords you put on it-

Steven Dickens: Yeah, for sure.

Tim Ceradsky: What matters is, are we better today than we were last year? Are we better able to do that?

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: That’s the important part of this whole story.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: Is continuous improvement, resiliency, being a better company tomorrow than we are today.

Anthony Anter: And you have to build the monitoring and observability in to be able to measure that.

Tim Ceradsky: Yeah.

Anthony Anter: Because, I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Anthony Anter: If you can’t prove that you are incrementally better tomorrow than you are today, then you’re not really incrementally better.

Steven Dickens: If you can’t instrument it and measure it-

Tim Ceradsky: Exactly.

Steven Dickens: … then you’re not making that progress.

Tim Ceradsky: Right.

Steven Dickens: As we start to wrap here, I’ll come to both of you. What would those three key takeaways be for people wanting to learn more, understand more. Keep them soundbites, but what would you say are those three key takeaways?

Tim Ceradsky: Observability, being willing to grapple with the metrics.

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: Understand what actually is important. What are those key performance indicators for your business? What makes you money, and what makes you better? Focusing on that, and having an automated way to gather that information. Don’t make it a data call where you have to call up five people and say, “All right, give me your numbers for last month.” This should be flowing to you from a dashboard, not about your system, but about how your tools are being used, how your processes are working, so that you can measure progress of your organization as a business. That goes into the whole Moneyball type of mentality. You’d think IT is very technical and specific, and we are numbers-driven.

Anthony Anter: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: Honestly, if you work in this industry, a lot of people are very used to doing things a certain way. So, helping people focus on those metrics, and think about, “How could I get better,” helps break that down. That’s that Moneyball type of mentality where you’re measuring players on what they’re doing, not just how do they look on film.

Steven Dickens: What they’ve done.

Tim Ceradsky: Yeah, what they’ve done. I think that’s the real key of this, being willing to tackle the automation side of things.

Steven Dickens: Mm-hmm.

Tim Ceradsky: And use automation for what it is good at, but don’t try to automate the most complicated things that you have. Automate your simple things that have to be done 1,000 times. Focus on that. Focus on getting those that feed your metrics.

Steven Dickens: Get the quick wins, basically?

Tim Ceradsky: Sure, get your quick wins, but get… Automation, Henry Ford did not build a factory to build cars on an assembly line, and try to create the self-driving car, right?

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Tim Ceradsky: That’s a very complicated thing to do. Versus, he built cars that were very simple, but he could mass-produce them. Focus on what you can do, and now you’re building Teslas in basically automated factories.

Steven Dickens: What would your key takeaways be, Tony?

Anthony Anter: I think the biggest thing is, resiliency is everybody’s job. I don’t want to reuse the security line, but it’s the same mantra. You can see, resiliency and building resiliency from day zero in your pipeline, in your platform, in your capability, in your application, it’s everybody’s job. We’ve talked DevOps for a decade now, we need to truly embrace what DevOps means. It’s the merging of development and operations together, to make application development, and operations, and resiliency one thing. That’s what we need to embrace today.

If I have to push one mantra, it’s that, dev and ops need to come together to make sure that resiliency is key, especially as we move into a much more complicated world of architectures, and cloud, and mainframe, and systems talking to others. There’s more dependencies out there. You can’t just have your platform and your data center surrounded by your walls, and moats, and guards. Everything’s connected to everything. So, you have to build in the idea that, at any moment, something could happen and that could go away.

Steven Dickens: I think that’s a fantastic summary. Guys, really appreciate you being on the show. Thank you for joining me.

Anthony Anter: Absolutely. Thank you, Steve.

Tim Ceradsky: Thank you, Steve.

Steven Dickens: You’ve been watching another episode of Infrastructure Matters. Please click and subscribe, and we’ll see you on the next episode. Thank you very much for watching.

Author Information

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.


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