I trust that all of our customers that attended xChange13, Serena’s global user conference, are back in their offices implementing one or more valuable tips they learned from the conference. And I know there wasn’t any shortage of great information delivered, especially from the Mainframe product team.
The most highly anticipated and rated session at xChange13 came from Bob Yates, Mainframe Account Manager, who showed off the new migration utility. Customers who have old repositories in products that are no longer supported are feeling exposed and left behind. Many of them face serious audit finding when the state of these repositories are discovered. The new migration utility pulls out the code, the relationships, the histories and the version from old repositories from CA-Panvalet, CA-Librarian and CA-Endevor. Along the way it validates the repository and fixes the errors it inevitably finds.
Also in the mainframe track, veteran users showcased how to get the most out of their solutions by taking the technology to new levels. R&D introduced the 2014 roadmap and showed off some advanced features that are coming soon while partners shared how to exploit the Serena mainframe ecosystem. With every session filled and positive feedback received, the mainframe track was, once again, the place to be at xChange13.
Our customer presentations really set the tone for the track. Prakash Balakrishnan, from Nationwide Insurance, showed how they were making use of off-host development by exploiting the client-pack. This was followed by Serena’s Bob Yates describing all the other capabilities that Client Pack had to offer. Long-time user and ChangeMan ZMF guru, Michael Bailey of MetLife, laid out a comprehensive plan of user configurable tweaks that make administration as easy as possible. Many of these great ideas will, one day I’m sure, find their way into the product.
Thank you to all of our customers and partners for informative and entertaining presentations. Liberal sprinklings of Belgian chocolate and a cool demo are always crowd pleasers. If you missed xChange13, contact me and I will be happy to share the presentations with you. Or watch the xChange13 playlist on YouTube to see some of the main stage presentations.
It used to be that the mainframe was an island of technology just as much as the PC once was. But we have seen that distinction blur and nowhere more so than in the world of software development.
Today’s mainframe programmers are just as much at home writing in Java and C as they once were writing in COBOL and PL/I. They are happy editing, compiling and testing in TSO/ISPF on a green screen or debugging, optimizing and tuning in the GUI of Eclipse.
Even the execution environment has morphed into an array of choices that are designed to match the profile of the application and the user experience. z/OS is happy serving up web pages and z/Linux can be your transaction processing hub, Unix System Services (USS) might host your data while CICS serves up web services.
The freedom to select our technology topology to suit our business and application needs is very liberating. But there is a price to pay. Managing all this code and ensuring the integrity of those myriad of pieces is complex. This is why Serena introduced the ChangeMan ZMF Client Pack (screenshot above) and added support for z/Linux and USS deployments.
The Client Pack is designed to provide developers with the ability to use the same Software Change and Release Management solution they have always used, ChangeMan ZMF, whether they are developing in Eclipse or an Eclipse-based IDE like Rational Developer for z/Series (RDz) or Windows IDE’s, such as the ones from Micro Focus. Simple plug-in technologies instantly make the ChangeMan ZMF repositories available on your chosen platform with full access to the code you are working on and the ability to manage the change packages right there from the software menus.
Support for long filenames and member names was introduced into ChangeMan ZMF two versions ago to enable developers who want to write in Java and C for the mainframe to do so under full change control. Developers can see the full 1024 byte file names and 256 byte members names on the mainframe and from their Eclipse, or Eclipse-based, IDE’s. This makes ChangeMan ZMF the only solution to give developers complete access through one technology. The previous version of ZMF added support for Hierarchical File System (HFS) used on USS and z/Linux File System (ZFS), which means your release can con now be deployed to all the mainframe platforms from one solution.
So whatever your development or execution environment, only ChangeMan ZMF supports where you want to be for all your developers and their applications.
In a very unscientific survey of more than 60 release management customers over the past 18 months, the winner in the “Largest Gantt Chart” award came in at 2.5 meters wide (8’ 2”) by 1.5 meters tall (4’11”) with over 90 “deployment tracks” covering the 68 hours of the “go live deployment weekend” or “GLDW.” One whole track was devoted to catering and it was on the critical path. More than 400 people are involved in the GLDW from noon on Friday until 8:00 am on Monday morning. This happens four times a year and many of the 400 employees spend at least one, sometimes two, nights sleeping at their desks.
Releases have become, for many organizations, more complicated than NASA space launches. And, just like John Glen, you too are now “sitting on top of two million parts … all built by the lowest bidder.” The complexity of releases today is vast when you consider the requirement to deploy software to multiple platforms and geographies. What’s more, that software comes in a myriad of technologies (many of which you have no visibility into and little control over), is developed from a variety of methodologies, and is managed across countless organizations. For many of us, managing this means spreadsheets and project plans, endless meetings and a deluge of email.
Today’s sophisticated, interdependent releases can only happen when you have the infrastructure that allows you complete visibility into the moving parts of the release and the tools that ensure coordinated movement through the lifecycle. At Serena, we have taken this need to the next level by developing the world’s first and leading Enterprise Release Management solution that spans your platforms, connects yours teams, manages your calendar and coordinates your deliverables. Working in concert with our proven Change and Configuration Management solutions on the Mainframe (ChangeMan ZMF) and on Open Systems and Windows (Dimensions CM), Serena Release Control not only gives you the flexibility you need to allow your teams to work in the way that best meets the business needs but also brings coordination and control to make sure they arrive at and depart from release milestones as expected.
By exploiting the open, web services-based architecture of our product set, Serena is able to manage your releases, even if you are using third party source-management solutions. We provide the upstream and downstream visibility needed by everyone from request-to-release and from Dev to Ops, including the ability to fully automate the deployment and handle exceptions.
So, if you are spending your next weekend in the office shepherding your next quarterly release, perhaps you should check the DevOps Drive-In Webcast series, past and upcoming. What you learn might just be able to give you a good night’s sleep.
One of the most hilarious presenters in the technology community is George Spalding of Pink Elephant. As Executive VP, he also has a serious side and is one of the primary authors of ITIL version 3. Day two of the conference started with George looking back at the state of release management since Y2K and then he abruptly brought us up to date with the challenges that we face in a mobile-to-mainframe world. Watch the video to the right.
Peter Sianchuk, Serena’s head of customer experience, talked about the award-winning support organization and innovations they are introducing to make the service they deliver better.
Traditionally, day 2 is also the day for recognizing customer success and exceptional use of Serena’s products. This year’s winners are:
Congratulations to the winners once again. See my blog post about this announcement, which includes photos of the winners.
The day completed with a traditional Miami Beach party, complete with salsa dancing and cigar rolling.
Day one started with a bang! In a new format, xChange13 got right down to business at 8:00 AM on Monday. Serena President and CEO Greg Hughes immediately set the tone and vision of the conference. Watch the video to the right. He talked about the challenges facing the industry as we navigate through releasing applications with greater velocity and greater throughput 24×7 under never-before pressure to meet time-to-market, compliance and control needs.
Serena’s head of development laid out the future of the product set and highlighted many of the cool new features that are in the upcoming releases. The common threads of greater accessibility, closer collaboration and more automation were reflected time and again as Serena’s solutions continue to evolve as the premier solution for enterprises who are serious about release management.
The Monday keynote presentation was delivered by Damon Edwards from DTO Solutions. Damon is a famous podcaster and author on the world of DevOps and one of the founders of the DevOps movement. He set the record straight: DevOps is not something one can buy, but it is something one can be. He made it clear that People and Process trumped Technology and that all successful DevOps initiatives come from a change in culture that pervades the organization from the leaders in the business to the practitioners in the data center. Watch the video of his presentation!
The day closed with the traditional Partner Reception and the room was abuzz with talk about the exciting challenges ahead.
I am very excited to announce the winners of the 2013 Serena Innovation Awards, aka “Douggies,” named after Serena founder Doug Troxel.
Serena President and CEO Greg Hughes presented the following honorees this morning on the main stage at xChange13, our global user conference in Miami. Every year these awards go to customers who have taken their Serena solutions to new levels of use that far exceed the Serena engineering team’s expectations.
Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.
Leadership in Enterprise Application Delivery
Innovation in Process Design
Caixa Geral de Depósitos
Excellence in Release Management
We look for three things:
Congratulations, Tracy, Stefan and Ricardo! Watch the video of the ceremony.
When your old technology prevents you from running your IT department the way you want, it’s time for a change. But so much of what we have is so deeply ingrained into all our systems, processes and reporting. That’s why we have created an automated migration utility that can move you from your old mainframe software change and release solution to the most modern and advanced solution from Serena.
It has never been more critical to have control and visibility in your release management infrastructure than it is today. Managing and balancing the risk and velocity of change is one of the top tasks an IT function has to provide. The business expectations of IT and the demand for controls require that we put in place advanced solutions that monitor what we are doing and ensure the audit trails are there for verification. Most of all, we want the technology to accelerate what we do while, at the same time, improve the quality and reduce the risk.
Change, configuration and release management systems designed in the 1970’s cannot meet the 21st century expectations. Serena’s ChangeMan ZMF (see picture above) continues to be at the forefront of mainframe software change and release management. Uniquely, it supports mainframe development, irrespective of where the developer is, and allows for deployment to all the mainframe execution environments.
So how do you make the change from your current solution to ChangeMan ZMF? A simple answer is our automated migration utility. The utility will migrate your existing inventory of source code, including all the versions and relationships, and will load them into the ChangeMan baseline libraries. It takes just a few minutes for each application. The utility will also report on errors it finds, including missing components, duplicate components and junk components.
Before each xChange, I check in with a few customers to find out what they are thinking and hoping to hear, and what news they have to share. It helps me to get the tone of the conference right and to guide the mainstage and breakout speakers in preparing their content.
Michael Bailey of MetLife is one of the customers I like to check in with. I first met Michael in 1997. He is a long-time Serena customer (25+ years!) and is passionate about the critical role that Change, Configuration and Release Management plays in modern IT organizations.
Before xChange was xChange
I thought I’d share our conversation from last week. We were reminiscing when Michael reminded me that the conference wasn’t always called “xChange,” which is something I’d forgotten. He told me he remembered how it was “the exceptional opportunities the Serena User Conference provided for attendees to speak directly with those persons who were and are still directly responsible for Serena’s products and solutions.”
For me, too, that is a real benefit of xChange. So many of our solutions are still being authored by the creative talents that created them 10, 15, even 20 years ago. That continuity extends, like in Michael’s case, to the customers. And for those Serena folk like me, xChange allows us to validate our latest ideas with the people who know our solutions the best.
Michael also told me that the “opportunity to network and discuss and share solutions amongst customer conference attendees” was, for him, “invaluable.” We’ve heard this from other customers too, which made for an easy decision to change the user conference name to “xChange” in 1999.
The Value within the Technology
When asked why he had chosen to present this year, Michael said that he wanted to give back what he had learned and offer some “easy, user- (and administrator-) friendly, practical customizations to the base ChangeMan ZMF product, while also sharing and recommending some customizations standards, well, really guidelines, … [for] … customers either initially installing or upgrading.” He said, in the true spirit of xChange, he wanted to pass on “the value within the technology.”
We talked about Michael’s role and how he is using Serena solutions at MetLife. Michael was eloquent about how technology helps him do his job:
“ChangeMan ZMF is absolutely essential to MetLife’s change management processes. It is the vital foundation, supporting almost, if not, all mainframe business application software activities. Constant 7×24 availability of its functions is imperative, and MetLife management, from all data-center interested areas, including internal and external audit, depend upon its effectiveness.”
Not Just One Thing
With so much experience and so many conferences attended, I wondered if Michael still had just one thing he wanted to get from this year’s user conference, xChange13. His answer didn’t surprise me. As always, Michael’s zest and humor shone through: “Gosh, just one thing?” he said and continued, “There are really so very many which come almost instantly to mind! Learning more about Serena’s products, current strategy and future direction; continued networking and solution sharing with Serena employees and customers; and, of course, also the certain-to-be-fun events, which are part of every Serena User Conference.”
I couldn’t have put it any better.
See you in Miami, Michael. And I’ll see you all there, too.
While preparing for xChange13, Serena’s global user conference from September 16-18, I happened to check in with one of Serena’s key release management partners. When I spoke with Eric Kunkel of MMA, he told me his best release management tip and what he hopes to gain from xChange13 this year. Here is our conversation:
KP: So tell me, Eric, when did you attend your first xChange conference?
EK: It was two years ago in Las Vegas.
KP: But you’ve been working with Serena’s products long before that?
EK: Yes, that’s right. I’ve been working with Serena products as a Customer and Partner for over 7 years.
KP: Your company, MMA, specializes in release management; how did this get to be so important to IT these days?
EK: Having a predictable, repeatable, and standard process that the development and business units can rely on is essential. Without that, we can’t deliver the fixes, enhancements and new functionality to their consumers of our goods and services.
KP: You are a release management expert; what is the one best practice you’d like to see everyone adopt?
EK: Standardization! And it has to be from the lowest level of OS configuration and set-up all the way to how configuration files are handled for deployments. It has to pervade build management (the code/compile/test cycle), processes (like having an enterprise release schedule), even how we define and manage deployment windows (for both non-production and production environments alike).
KP: You’ve often told me that automation of releases is essential; what is the best way to do that?
EK: Automation will drive standardization. There’s a saying I heard, which I now use repeatedly: “people are nice and computers are honest.” What that means is … a person might just fix an issue to keep the project moving forward for the greater good. That one issue can turn into 20 issues known only by that engineer. Computers are binary: it either passes or fails. Computers highlight the failures so they can be resolved and everyone adheres to the standard.
KP: I like that. I think I am going to use that too! What do you want to learn more about on your trip to xChange13?
EK: There are two main areas I will be focusing on. I will be looking to see how the Serena Release Management products are evolving to support the needs of our clients. The other area of focus, the “xChange-ing” if you will, will be to talk to the other attendees to try and understand the current pain points of our customers. I really want to learn if there are new pain points emerging, besides the big three of visibility, traceability, and automation.
KP: This has been great, Eric. Thanks a lot. See you in Miami!
EK: Take care, Kevin. Try and improve those jokes this year.
Each year Serena attends the SHARE mainframe conference. This year it was in Boston and was very well attended. Our booth (pictured) was the center for some pretty hard core conversations about the role of the mainframe in enterprise release management. Over the course of three days we got to talk with many release practitioners, release customers, release vendors and release gurus. Some pretty consistent messages came out of these conversations, which I want to “share” (pun intended) with you.
About three-quarters of the people I spoke to had some initiative to address synchronizing mainframe and non-mainframe releases. More than half said they were unhappy with the old tools they were using.
One visitor to the booth went as far as to say, “I go out of my way to avoid using ’name of solution.’ It slows everything down; everyone hates it but we can’t replace it because it’s wrapped around everything else.” We showed him the new migration utility we have developed that automatically moves all the repository artifacts from one repository into ChangeMan ZMF and he was impressed. Enterprise release management teams do not have to stick with their current solution any longer.
Another hot topic at the booth, one my colleagues from our mainframe solutions architect team spent much time demoing, was about the importance of being able to synchronize releases across projects. Frequently, these days, our releases comprise of components for the web, and mobile, and mainframe, and communications and big-data and we have to make sure they are all ready to be installed together. This usually results in long weekends in the office by 10’s, even 100’s, of people at once. With the introduction of the new Serena Mainframe Connector, it is now possible to synch your projects across the heterogeneity of platforms, methodologies and time zones.
You can see all these great technologies at xChange13, Serena’s global user conference, which is right around the corner. Come and join the exchange about what you think enterprise release management should look like and learn from your peers about their best practices and cool solutions to the most pressing issue in IT today.
SHARE 2013 was a great conference and gave me lots to think about. Of course, next year is going to be quite the show as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mainframe!
See you in Miami for xChange next month.