Making Mainframe Agile Development Possible

by | Mar 15, 2023

What is Agile Development?

Agile development is a near-ubiquitous approach to software development that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Rather than planning out a project in its entirety before beginning development, agile encourages teams to break projects down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This iterative process allows teams to respond quickly to changing requirements, test and validate assumptions, and deliver value to customers more frequently. However, it can be extremely challenging to implement agile development when applications are on outdated core systems.

Agile Dev Challenges with Mainframes

For many large, older organizations, these legacy core systems host foundational software applications that have been in use for a long time and are critical for the operations of a business. But since they are often outdated, built on obsolete technology and languages, and lack many integration capabilities with modern distributed systems, they can create quite a few challenges for agile development:

    1. Lack of Agility: Legacy systems often lack the flexibility and agility required for agile development. They may have rigid structures, complex codebases, and limited documentation, which can make it difficult to quickly iterate on software features and respond to changing requirements.
    2. Limited Testing Capabilities: These older systems may not have the testing capabilities required for agile development. They may lack automated testing frameworks, which can slow down the testing process and make it harder to detect bugs and errors.
    3. Integration Challenges: Mainframes typically do not integrate easily with newer software systems, which can hinder collaboration and make it harder to implement continuous integration and deployment. This can result in longer development cycles and delays in delivering software features to users.
    4. Skillset Challenges: Agile development requires a team with a wide range of skills, including software development, testing, project management, and collaboration. However, legacy systems typically require specialized knowledge and experience, such as COBOL, that can be hard to find among team members, making it difficult to build and maintain an agile team.

The Agile Mainframe Solution

So, while agile development can be an effective approach to software development, it can be especially challenging to implement when using legacy systems. Enterprises can address these hurdles using a combination of technical and organizational changes, including modernizing legacy systems, investing in automated testing frameworks, and building cross-functional teams with the necessary skills and experience.

Learn how one global airline was able to implement agile development on mainframe applications and reduce project costs by 20% using Adaptive Integration Fabric.