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July 6, 2017

Continuous Delivery is a concept that has emerger in recent years to accommodate the market needs for improving “Time to Market” of Applications changes.

Traditionally IT limited the number of applications versions released in a given year and as such the software development approach was able to follow the Waterfall methodology. Today’s business world sees constant application change. Grouping multiple application changes into periodic versions and releasing these versions to the end user community once every 3 to 6 months  has siginificant impact on the business.The limited version release approach can no longer meet the business needs – hence the term Continuous Delivery (CD). CD is a software engineering approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time and on a continual basis. This has been common practice in the open systems world and now needs to follow suit in the mainframe space. Test automation is key to meeting the challenges of continuous delivery. 

DevOps and CD complement one another with a degree of overlap. DevOps relates more to the cultural changes and tools required to support a collaborative process between developers, QA and operations and flows directly into CD.

Automated testing needs to include both testing at the unit test level as well as full testing including regression testing of the application in its entirety. 

While developers often perform unit testing a full and comprehensive testing is insufficient. 

Typically some of the barriers to implementing full test automation include:

  • A workforce that has used the same processes and tools for the last 30 years. This has worked for so long so why change

  • It is estimated that 50% of mainframe know how is subject to retirement or about to move on to new opportunities. Thus significant mainframe knowledge is often scarce and increasingly becoming a bottle neck.

  • Training new staff on mainframe becomes more and more difficult. Firstly it is harder to find those professionals who agree to work in this environment and secondly the training itself takes longer in comparison to the open system environment (in many cases students are trained in new technologies while in college).

  • Software products supporting automated testing are more mature and available  in the Open System environment.

  • The new world of DevOps is primarily focused on development and delivery.  There are a number of mainframe products supporting mainframe development on the “left side” of the Application Life Cycle process but do not support fully automated application testing. The following diagram illustrates the application life cycle process:

           

 

 

 

Figure 1

To overcome the challenges highlighted above IT organizations need to adjust their practices and methodology.  Continuous Delivery in mainframe environment can only be achieved if application testing can be fully automated and run efficiently.  The Testing phase can achieve this goal by applying the following:

  • Define a dedicated environment for testing where by the latest production version is the base line for the next version. 

  • Define comprehensive testing scenarios and use cases and make them available from within a central repository.

  • Automate the process of comparing the output of the application that has been changed to the output of the current production version. 

  • Develop an automated mechanism to derive testing scenarios from existing production jobs and procedures.

  • Tools that are easy to use by QA testers that may have a limited knowledge of Mainframe.

  • Tools that assist in managing the test data relevant to specific testing scenarios

MOST Technologies has taken up the challenge to address the above through MF-Test – a mainframe solution to automate application testing. The prime objective of MF-Test is to improve quality of testing whilst reducing time and effort to quality assure mainframe applications undergoing change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2

 

Figure 2 above illustrates where MF-Test fits within the Continuous Delivery process.

 

Key functionality

  • - Automate process of batch and on-line testing

    • - On-line – record on-line test scenarios  – record once , replay many times 

    • - Batch – generate test scripts automatically from existing JCL

  • - Comprehensive record of all test results

    • - Database/File content, screens, reports, work files

  • - Capture test results prior to making application change – ‘Before Results’

    • - Run test scenarios on modified application – “After Results’

    • - Automatic ‘intelligent’ comparison - ‘Before’ vs. ‘After’ test results

Additional functionality

  • - Comprehensive auditing, security and control of all testing

  • - Automatic test generation from existing JCL

  • - Support for multiple testers each working concurrently in their own environment

  • - Centralize aggregation of test results – store results of database values, sequential datasets, screens, VSAM files, reports for easy future reference

  • - Smart flexible pre/post change comparisons - down to the field, column and character level, to help ensure that application functionality and appearance remain completely unchanged – unless change is intended.

  • - Comprehensive reporting and extract features – to support test result analysis and distribution of test results

  • - MF-Test’s Windows-based application - handles test scenario definition, test description and auditing, script generation, screen comparison reports and test job generation

  • Data extract facility to ease process of generating test data

ALM integration – integration with 3rd party ALM products (IBM – Rational, HPE – ALM, etc.)

 

Key benefits –

  • - Reduce risk of encountering bugs in production environment

  • - Lower overall costs of testing

  • - Reduce number of testers assigned to testing process

  • - Cut time taken to execute tests

  • - Encapsulate application testing know-how pertinent to organization’s applications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3

 

MF-Test Process – ‘Before’ vs ‘After’ regression testing

 

 

 

Written by:

Max Moss – VP Business Development

Email: Max.m@mosttechnologies.com

 

Udi Fridenshtein – VP Sales (USA)

Email: udi.f@mosttechnologies.com

 

About MOST Technologies

MOST Technologies is a global provider of innovative solutions to mainframe customers. These solutions automate the process of application modernization, reducing cost of ownership, speeding up time to market and improving quality.  

 

MOST Offices:

USA:

MOST Technologies inc,

400 Northridge rd.

Suite 250 Atlanta 30350

Tel: (678) 420-7470

Fax: (404) 8431416

Japan:

MOST Technologies Japan

K.K. Fuji Building No. 28 2F 2-7-26,

Kita Aoyama, Minato-ku,

Tokyo 107-0061,

Japan Tel: (81)-3-6890-0476

Israel:

MOST Software Technologies, LTD.

7 Martin Gehl st.

Petach Tikva  4951254

Tel: +972 (3) 911-5511

Fax: +972 (3) 911-5500

 

Email: Sales@mosttechnologies.com

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