Security, Innovation, and Collaboration Fuel Mainframe Transformation

By August 26, 2021Blog, Zowe

Written by April Hickel, Vice President Intelligent Z at BMC Software

This blog originally ran on the BMC website. For more content like this, click here

To keep pace with the demands of the digital economy, companies now have to be faster at everything. New features and services now must go from concept to working product in a matter of weeks instead of months or years; hosting platforms must be able to immediately handle workloads increased by these new products and by external disruptions; and the entire system must be secure enough to withstand both external and internal attacks.

Because we believe the platform is central to success in today’s fast-paced digital world, BMC is focused on helping our customers transform, optimize, and secure the mainframe. Month after month, quarter after quarter, we are committed to making mainframe application development easier, faster, and more attractive to top talent. We are dedicated to making data and functionality accessible across platforms, improving the performance and availability of systems, and increasing operations teams’ visibility into those systems. And we are profoundly concerned with protecting the mainframe’s reputation as a secure platform.

Our July release furthers these commitments with capabilities that will help you harden security, modernize application development, achieve greater visibility across the platform, and promote an open and collaborative mainframe.

Minimizing internal risk

Reports of data breaches, ransomware attacks, and compromised systems appear in the news almost every day. Organizations are constantly revising their threat modeling to protect systems from the latest tactics employed by external hackers and internal bad actors. But the most insidious threats come from unexpected sources—the compromised accounts of trusted employees—making them costlier and more difficult to detect and trace, particularly because many organizations use manual workflows to monitor privileged activity.

New options within BMC AMI Security employ automated detection and response to enhance protection against attacks from privileged accounts. A new supervisor call (SVC) screener and Unix System Service (USS) data enrichment detect unusual privileged user activity in real time and automatically respond, shutting down these vulnerabilities and locking potentially compromised accounts until security teams can investigate and resolve these potential threats.

This real-time detection and improved visibility provide an extra level of protection against the compromise of privileged user accounts, allowing you to uncover weaknesses and malicious activity and apply remediation before a compromise can occur.

Successful developers power successful organizations

Securing the mainframe and the business-critical data it houses becomes increasingly important as the digital economy drives new innovation and an ever-increasing number of applications require back-end access to the platform. Opening the mainframe to these new applications and services has broader implications than just security, though. As enterprises seek to respond to changing markets as quickly as possible, their development teams must be as agile, nimble, progressive, and innovative as mobile app and distributed development teams. To do so, these teams not only need best-in-breed tooling and processes, but the ability to attract top talent, as well.

Providing a modern development experience is key to attracting and retaining this talent. Developers today can choose from a wide variety of platforms and languages on which to base their careers. To attract talented, dedicated workers, employers can’t provide developers with a niche, specialized experience that’s unique to the mainframe. Mainframe development must use the same Agile and DevOps processes used by other development teams within the organization, supported by toolsets that aid developers and encourage their efficiency, engagement, and creativity.

Many mainframe organizations, though, come up short in this respect. In a recent Forrester survey commissioned by BMC, eight out of ten developers said that their mainframe development tools need significant improvement to be more effective. Inadequate tooling leaves developers unable to achieve their full potential and application teams unable to keep up with market demands.

With the need for modern tooling in mind, BMC has released new features for several BMC Compuware tools, designed to increase agility, velocity, and efficiency—and make developers’ lives easier.

BMC Compuware ISPW now integrates directly with GitHub Actions, simplifying the DevOps toolchain and enabling developers to compile, build, and deploy mainframe code stored in GitHub directly on the mainframe. And an integration with HCL Launch makes it easier to integrate the mainframe with enterprise release management toolchains while expanding users’ ability to work on the mainframe with their tools of choice.

New ISPW sandboxes empower developers to edit and test code in their own isolated environment, enabling more concurrent development and reducing the risks inherent with having multiple developers make changes within the same environment.

These are just a few of the new BMC Compuware enhancements, which also include additional REST API connections for BMC Compuware Topaz, expanded automated testing coverage, improved BMC Compuware Topaz for Enterprise Data editing options, and more. To learn more about these features, read Sam Knutson’s blog post, “Modern Tools for Modern Mainframe Developers.”

Complete visibility

As organizations transform and optimize their mainframe toolsets, how can they be sure that they’re increasing efficiency and transforming the developer experience, or even that these tools are being used at all?

BMC Compuware zAdviser collects data from your BMC Compuware tools and uses machine learning to continuously track their adoption and usage and develop key performance indicators against which mainframe teams can measure their performance. Provided free to customers on current maintenance, this incredibly useful tool gives organizations clear insight into which processes and tools improve their developers’ performance while also measuring their progress against industry-wide benchmarks.

We’re excited to announce that with our latest quarterly release, zAdviser goes beyond application development to capture data from its first BMC AMI product, BMC AMI Ops. Continued expansion of zAdviser’s collection of data from BMC AMI solutions will give customers visibility throughout the mainframe ecosystem, including the tools used to manage it.

Another newly released feature increases visibility into key Java workloads like z/OS Connect, expanding the monitoring and proactive notification capabilities of BMC AMI Ops Monitor for Java Environments with diagnostic actions for faster data collection and issue resolution.

Collaborating for a better mainframe

The benefits of end-to-end visibility and open borders go beyond monitoring, management, and development tools. At BMC, we believe that the success of the mainframe depends upon a vibrant ecosystem in which vendors communicate, share ideas on innovation, and collaborate with the mainframe community at large. This belief drives our commitment to the Open Mainframe Project and its mission to create a collaborative community that promotes open source mainframe software.

Originally designed to facilitate the creation of workflows during mainframe software installation and configuration, BMC’s contribution to the Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe open source software framework, the Workflow WiZard, allows software developers to more easily build workflows for z/OSMF. With it, we have taken steps to make the installation and configuration of mainframe software more consistent with a tool that can be modified and built upon by the mainframe community.

We believe that an open-borders approach and collaboration between vendors, customers, developers, and others in the mainframe community will lead to greater innovation and transformation, creating an exciting future for the platform.

One step in the journey of mainframe transformation and optimization

Mainframe transformation is an ongoing journey of continuous innovation and adjustment. New market demands will require new services which require new applications, and mainframe integrations, leading to adjustments in workflow, capacity, and security strategy. Just as we’ve done this quarter, BMC will be with you every step of the way, introducing new features that help you secure your mainframe, transform your application development processes, hire and retain top talent, improve resilience, and become more efficient. Your feedback and collaboration inspire us to continuously innovate, creating new BMC AMI and BMC Compuware features for release in October 2021, January 2022, and well into the future.

Learn more about why BMC joined the Open Mainframe Project here.