Compuware Beefs Up Product Line for the "New Normal of Mainframe"

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Compuware Corporation has introduced enhanced mainframe products designed to help customers increase developer productivity and improve application performance management. Compuware Workbench, an open framework development environment, now includes easy access to MVS data, an enhanced Xpediter debugging capability, and new performance capabilities. In addition, the vendor's Strobe toolset, a mainframe application performance management solution, now includes greater visibility into application performance data.

The new tools help address what the vendor calls the "new normal of the mainframe," Dennis O'Flynn, director of product management for the Mainframe Business Unit at Compuware, tells 5 Minute Briefing. "Our mainframe products have been around for 20 to 30 years, and we have deep relationships with customers. As we have talked with them over the past year, we have started to see a shift in how mainframe applications are being used - and that is what we are calling the ‘new normal' because things are really changing."

Mainframe applications are no longer as internally focused as they once were, O'Flynn contends. For example, he says, in banking in the past, a mainframe application would be used by the bankers - tellers and the loan officers. But now with mobile banking and other types of e-commerce, the user base comprises customer end users. A result, these legacy applications are being used in new ways that companies did not foresee even 10 years ago.

In addition to these mainframe applications becoming more customer-facing, complex and thus more difficult to maintain, IT organizations must integrate new cloud and mobile applications with legacy mainframe applications - often in a specialized development environment - while ensuring those applications deliver superior quality and performance.  And on top of that, O'Flynn notes, the mainframe technology industry is also facing a skills shortage as experience workers near retirement age.

"You could call it a paradigm shift, or the new normal," says O'Flynn. Again, using a banking as an example, he cited a company that was seeing spikes in online transactions and tracked down the increased usage to mobile applications that its customers were using to check their balances on the 15th and 30th of the month. "Because of a different end user, things are shifting," observes O'Flynn.

As a result, says O'Flynn, Compuware is offering enhancements to its products, which are expected to help customers deal with challenges such as these.

Compuware Workbench, an open framework development environment targeted at newer and less-experienced developers, now includes easy access to MVS data. Workbench 3.1.6 features File-AID for MVS browse and edit capabilities, enabling quick access to data and file types that are necessary for large enterprise application development and testing, and boosting the productivity of mainframe application developers. The new Workbench also includes an enhanced Xpediter debugging capability, enabling IT staffers without advanced application knowledge to get into an interactive test session with minimal effort to confidently move applications into production.

In addition, Workbench further enables enterprises to quickly resolve application faults with Abend-AID 12.2. New features include a COBOL PERFORM trace, consolidated displays of IMS and DB2 data to speed access to crucial information, and easier access to Abend-AID reports.

To support improved application performance, the latest version of Strobe, a mainframe application performance management solution, now includes the ability to automatically measure batch jobs that exceed dynamically calculated thresholds. Other new capabilities in Strobe 4.3 include integration with existing monitoring tools, improved CICS transaction reporting, and new views of DB2 accounting statistics.

With iStrobe 4.3, which extends Strobe to Web environments, administrators can now also view historical performance data from a variety of perspectives, and can establish baseline performance benchmarks. In addition, Strobe can now easily initiate measurements from within Compuware's Workbench as part of the development process.

"We are really trying to empower a new workforce to handle the change of workload," says O'Flynn. "These legacy applications are no longer legacy because they have been modernized for the new normal."

More information about Compuware Mainframe Solutions, including Compuware Workbench and Strobe 4.3, is available from