Compuware has launched a software platform intended to help organisations with mainframe systems to continue to gain value from their investment by opening it up to a new generation of developers.
The initial release provides a way to tap into high-value mainframe data for enterprise apps and analytics, the firm said.
Available immediately, Compuware Topaz enables developers and other professionals to discover and visualise data across mainframe and non-mainframe sources in a common and intuitive framework, according to the firm.
The platform is intended to address the fact that a large amount of data in many organisations is still held in mainframes, but the pool of IT professionals with mainframe experience is shrinking, while many newer developers - dubbed "millennials" by Compuware - have different skills based on newer programming and data models.
"Customers are facing challenges because the vast majority of their intellectual property is still held and processed through the mainframe, but they are being challenged by the changing skills of the workforce," Compuware solution director Steven Murray told V3.
"People coming into the workplace now have a different set of skills in terms of programming and platforms and how they do things."
Topaz has been developed in the Eclipse framework to make it a cross-platform solution. But instead of running on the mainframe itself, it links into existing Compuware tools that run on IBM System z hardware, such as its File-AID data management software, in order to access data. It also links with other data sources on other platforms.
"If you've got some DB2 databases on the mainframe and some SQL Server stuff or Oracle stuff elsewhere, the Topaz Enterprise Data Editor, which is a universal data editor, gives you one interface to connect to all of them," Murray said.
One of the other key features of Topaz is the Relationship Visualizer, which creates a visual representation showing at a glance how all the data elements are connected between the available data sources inside an organisation.
In a similar way, another component called Program Visualizer enables users to see at a glance the logical flow within an application. Compuware intends to expand on this with future releases, according to Murray.
"In subsequent releases, we intend to do much more with the Program Visualizer so that you can see full applications from the data perspective or the logic point of view," he said.
This will assist developers in identifying key points in an application stack where data moves on and off the mainframe to other systems and back again, he added, which means that Topaz is not just aimed at the so-called millennials but will prove invaluable to existing mainframe users.
Ultimately, Topaz is aimed at making it easier for mainframe customers to better integrate their mainframe with other IT infrastructure and keep it maintained and up to date, Murray said.
"Modifications still have to be made to mainframe applications, and while you have people who know how to code stuff, they don't necessarily know about these 40-year-old programs that are up there, so anything we can do to get the data out, and allow them to visualise the applications fully, will help a lot," he said.
Meanwhile, Compuware has also moved its own development into the modern era by switching to an agile development model, according to Murray, whereby it will deliver updates and new capabilities at a more rapid pace.
"What we are planning is quarterly releases and updates that are much smaller than the annual updates you would traditionally see in the mainframe world, and we already have things such as visualisation of the code side in the pipeline for the next quarter," he said.
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