Kevin Parker Archive

So we are off and running with xChange 2015. Record crowds in the breakout sessions and a packed house for the kickoff general session this morning.

Greg Hughes talked about the need to “Move Fast Without Breaking Things” and his first love … a 128k RAM, twin 320kb floppy, 32lb “portable” computer. He drove home the critical need of modern organizations to create an infrastructure environment that supports dev teams while, at the same time, ensuring control, visibility and compliance. Every organization is “facing unimagined challenges securing their software repositories” and he laid out a set of 5 best practices that can be actioned immediately.

In describing Serena’s product strategy each of Serena’s development leaders showed off the latest innovations in each of the product lines. With new releases of every Serena product in the last 12 months and two major product announcements today with the release Serena Service Manager 5.2 and Serena Deployment Automation 5.2 it was an important start for the conference. Dimensions RM showed off the first ever Requirements Visualization feature that lets users drag and drop requirements, dependencies and relationship right on to releases. Dimensions CM showed the ChangeSet Graph which lets you see development teams building and deploying code in real time. The ChangeMan ZMF team talked about their new, high-performance, migration tool designed to automatically eliminate the repository sprawl on the mainframe.

Keep an eye on Twitter and follow @serenasoftware and look out for #serenaxchange for the latest updates.


Tags: xChange

Well! We’re all set to go! We have a great agenda, a fantastic lineup of speakers and some fun activities planned. If you haven’t registered yet there is still time – you can register here.

Let’s take a quick tour of the highlights …

  • Over 70 in depth technical sessions – nearly half delivered by customer practitioners just like you
  • Major new product announcements you will only hear at xChange
  • Incredible end-to-end demo of modern software development infrastructure – “The Mother of all Demos”
  • Important new thought leadership about The Secure SDLC – new whitepaper published at xChange

Of course we’ll be celebrating too:

  • The 2015 xTravaganza will be a look back and celebration commemorating the 30th birthdays of PVCS, ChangeMan ZMF and Dimensions CM with special guest appearances of some of the thought leaders who created these technologies
  • The 2015 Innovation Awards (aka “The Douggies”) presented by Serena’s President and CEO Greg Hughes, will it be you?
    • Award for Innovation Excellence to the customer who has deployed a Serena Solution in a novel way
    • Award for Value Creation to the customer who has made the most dramatic savings for their organization
    • Award for Use Satisfaction to the customer who has changed the organization most impact-fully

Looking forward to seeing you there. Contact Victoria Tse today for special pricing deals.

If you are planning on coming to xChange I want to remind you that the early bird pricing expires on December 31st. Right now you can save $200 off the registration fee.

If you haven’t looked at the agenda yet I’d recommend hopping over to the xChange website so you can the amazing list of topics and keynotes we have planned for you.

See you in Washington DC in March!

Tags: xChange

The best just got better.

With the release of ChangeMan ZMF 8.1 a new era of software development becomes possible for the mainframe. With over 400 customer requested ideas implemented and groundbreaking innovations in cross-platform SDLC support, this release makes managing software development, from idea to deployment more streamlined, more automated and more reliable than ever.

Leading enterprises are under pressure to deliver innovation rapidly to satisfy their customers, while maintaining high quality and integrity, and reducing cost and risk. Agility and accelerated application delivery is required but companies struggle to deliver mainframe changes at the pace that the business demands. New Serena ChangeMan ZMF v8 capabilities enable mainframe application teams to deliver faster and at lower cost without compromising the enterprise scalability or security.

Here are some highlights:

  1. Release and Deploy Support For Eclipse and Windows Clients

Serena ChangeMan ZMF 8.1 provides development, release and deployment support for both Eclipse and Windows environments. Developers, release managers and business stakeholders can manage mainframe deployments and releases from a distributed client. Development teams can develop code and manage changes as they transition across environments.

  1. Support for High Level Language Customization Exits (HLLX)

Customer-specific business rules can be implemented in COBOL, REXX or any other high-level language. Pre- and post-exits are implemented at strategic points within the ChangeMan ZMF workflow and are implemented and executed across both mainframe and distributed clients.

“We tested the HLLX feature and were extremely impressed at the flexibility in which we could modify the behavior of ChangeMan ZMF. This allows us to leverage the development process as a clear competitive differentiator.”

  1. Global Application Administration Update

Simplified administration means setup and deployment of ChangeMan ZMF instances can be done in minutes ensuring dev and test teams always have the right resources when they need them

  1. Global Application Administration Update

Over 450 additional feature enhancements improving performance, security, usability, development and administration are included

As the most innovative release in more than a decade ChangeMan 8.1 sets the standard that all others can only aspire to. This is the ideal solution for mainframe teams that are under pressure to deliver high-quality, valuable software in an efficient, fast and reliable manner.

ChangeMan ZMF 8.1 highlights the continued investment that Serena Software is making in this strategic product used by hundreds of the world’s most important companies.

And there is more just around the corner. Watch out for next month’s release of ChangeMan 8.1 Client-Pack.


We are gearing up for our next global user conference, xChange15, to be held March 22-25 in Washington D.C. Like our past xChange conferences, this one is going to be all about helping our customers get the most value our of their Serena software investments, with presentations and workshops featuring the best thought leaders, technical experts, fellow customers and technology partners.

In three jam-packed days, we provide over 60 technical sessions on the products you are using today, like SBM, Dimensions CM and RM, Serena Release Manager, ChangeMan ZMF and more. We are working on the full agenda right now and will publish it as soon as available.

All available information about xChange is always on the xChange website at

Discounted registration is available through the end of this calendar year, so take a look at your training and conference budget in 2014 and decide to spend it on attending xChange. You won’t be disappointed!

A few things to note for xChange15:

  • Our call for speakers is open now. Selected speakers receive free conference registration. Please see for details.
  • We are offering a selection of one-day intensive pre-conference training sessions on Sunday, March 22 for the amazing low add-on price of $199. Space is limited to 20 participants, so register now for xChange15 and add one of these important training courses during your registration.
  • We have a set of hotel rooms at the Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner set aside for xChange15 attendees at a preferred rate on a first-come, first-served basis. Links to hotel registration are included in the registration process.
  • Finally, we offered a discounted rate to customers joining us from outside North America, as we know travel costs for international attendees can be high. Please contact your Serena sales, services or support representative for additional information, or just send an email to

I look forward to seeing you in Washington D.C. in March!


Tags: xChange

** Please note: The SDA Community Edition is no longer available. ** 



Like most jobs in life, preparation is the key to success. After getting to know the Serena Deployment Automation technology by working with the free version for a few hours (see yesterday’s post) I decided it was time to try for real.

My application was a Library Management System I developed a while ago for a public library in the United Kingdom. Like most developers I like to have something familiar to play with when I am learning a new technology.

So I started by defining my application to Serena Deployment Automation (SDA). The truth is that the help system (which is very helpful) suggested I defined the Components first. Partly because I like to try and test things to their limits and partly because I like to do the unexpected.

Create the Application

To start I clicked on Management, then Application and then Create New Application. I gave the application a name and a description and I was done. Easy. But was it too easy?

Once my application was created it dropped me into the Environment definition page. I was expecting this because I had been through the tutorials and samples when I first downloaded the Appliance. Here is where we define the target environments for the application. Every application lives somewhere. The environments are definitions of the locations you will be deploying to for development, testing and production. Each environment can comprise of one or more targets.

I clicked on Add Environment and the drop down menu invited me to pick from DEV, INT or QA. Well they didn’t suit me so I realized I needed to create my own Environments.

Create the Environments

So now my plan was off track and that made this whole thing even more fun.

I clicked on Environments and there were DEV, INT and QA. So I clicked on Create Environment and all I had to do was to give the Environment a name and description. Next I was shown the Environment Details page. It had no details of course because it had just been created.

The Application was yet to be associated with the Environment and it had no resources. It was then it dawned on me. My application comprises of three parts. The database, running all the time, the programs running when invoked and the scripts that run once each time the application is refreshed. These resources, these components could go to any of the servers in my environment. I needed to define these components so I could tell SDA which components go where.

So I should have followed the instructions after all and defined the Components first. Good to know the help system has my best interests at heart. Even though I went down the wrong path all the entries I made are going to be used when we get down to the deployment itself.

Create the Components

So I now click on Components and the Create Component button.

Here I am invited, as usual, to give my Components a name and Description and, in addition, details of their location and the repository type. SDA supports almost 20 different types of repository including PVCS, Dimensions and Subversion.


My foundation is in place. Now I have to fill out a little more of the details and decide how the deployment should go. This whole process took no more than 5 minutes. In that time I had set up the Environments, the Application and the Components.

What I really want to do is deploy my Application and its Components through the sequence of Environments I have set up. To do that we need to define the process we want the deployment to follow. And that is what we’ll do tomorrow.


** Please note: The SDA Community Edition is no longer available. ** 


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about downloading the new Serena Deployment Automation Appliance. This is the free, community edition of the exceptionally advanced Deployment Automation technology we introduced last year.

The story so far

Since that post I have been working with the Appliance learning how to automate deployments. For about half an hour each day, for the past week, I have been pressing buttons, dragging and dropping and generally putting the technology through its paces partly to improve my understanding of how it all works but mostly to see just how much better automation is than the manual processes I used to use. I have to say I’m impressed! Let me take you on my journey and share with you how I became an automation-maven in just a week. In order to make this digestible I am going to write it in 5 separate postings.

Today, we have naming of parts* (Monday)

Serena Deployment Automation divides the aspects of deployment into 3 units of deployment:

  • Applications – this is the entirety of what you are deploying. It might consist of scripts, executables, images, configurations, in fact anything you need to upgrade your application from its current state to its upgraded state.
    • In my case my Application is the Llareggub (a fictional place in Wales) Public Library
  • Components – these are the distinct collections of items, often from specific repositories Dimensions CM, PVCS/VM, VSS, Subversion etc), that are going to be deployed. Each collection will be of similar types of artifacts that need the same deployment process.
    • In my case I had three collections of components: database schema changes in the /SQL folder, new programs in the /CBL folder and set up scripts in the /BMS folder.
  • Environments – are where the deployments are going to to go from and to. These can be single or multiple deployment targets such as a single server or virtualized shopfront like Amazon.
    • In my case I just followed the paradigm that was in use in the Appliance already of DEV, INT and QA, development, integration test and QA testing.

Each of these has associated attributes, the most important are:

  • Processes – these are associated with Applications and Components. The component processes allow you to create activities that are different for different classes of components and to create different process for those components. For example a set of database DDL needs very different treatment to a bunch of DLL’s. But how we apply DDL to a MS/SQL server is very different to how we apply it to an IBM/UDB server. Imagine these as micro-processes, as your toolkit for deploying this kind of component. Application processes are macro processes made up of a collection of the micro-, the component-processes. Here you can create a deployment process that initially loads the application on to a new server or a process for putting out a security patch.
    • In my case I had processes for deploying the application from DEV to INT and from INT to QA comprising of the stop-backup-apply-ddl-restart of the database, backup-deploy of the code and backup-deploy-execute of the scripts
  • Properties – describe the nature of the Applications, Components and Environments. They specify, for example, the source repository type, the identity of a deployment target, the approvers and many other attributes.
    • In my case I kept things simple and took defaults whenever I could.

Tomorrow – setting up the Application and the Components and a deeper dive into Properties and Processes. * apologies to Henry Reed, Naming of Parts and E. V. Milner, Baking of Tarts


** Please note: The SDA Community Edition is no longer available. ** 


“Drinking our own champagne” is how we approach technology here at Serena. If we have a our own tool that supports part of the application development lifecycle we use it for our own development efforts. In fact the Serena development teams deploy the beta versions of our solutions straight into their production environments because they want exploit the cool-new-stuff just as much as you do!

When I sat down today to start writing about automated deployment in modern enterprises I thought I’d follow the Serena mantra and “drink our own champagne” too. So I jumped on the website and downloaded the completely free and completely pre-configured “appliance” and the virtual environment that runs it.

All appliance – no science

This is something truly amazing. The appliance is a fully installed, configured and ready to go. All you have to do is press the “deploy” button. It runs on top of Virtual Box which is a virtualized environment that runs on most enterprise platforms. Now I will tell you that the download of the appliance took almost 20 minutes as it is over 5GB but the Virtual Box download only took a few seconds.

While it was downloading I read through the easy to follow documentation that walks through deploying an application to Tomcat, one that deploys a database update and a deployment to WebLogic. I also took a look at the cool videos so I could get a sense of what was ahead. By the time I’d watched the last one the downloads were done.

Installation of Virtual Box took a couple of  minutes and was easy as I just took all the defaults. Importing the Appliance also took a couple of minutes.

It takes a community

My environment is Windows 8.1 Pro on a Surface II computer. The moment I started the Appliance I got an error message.

So I popped over to the Serena Deployment Automation Community forum where my exact problem (Symptom: Appliance won’t start: Reason: Pop up blocker software on Windows 8.1) was described. I followed the advice and voilà!

Moments later I found myself looking at a logon screen for Serena Deployment Automation.

Mr. Impatient

Like most geeks I want to click buttons and links more than I want to read documentation or follow a script.

So I clicked on Application and got a list of applications to be deployed. Then I clicked on Tomcat Sample Application and got a list of deployment areas. Next to DEV it asked me to Request Process. Deploy Application was already selected so I just hit SUBMIT.

Seconds later I get the deployment results screen appear and I can see the steps executing.

That was fast

So I installed and configured enterprise class Deployment Automation technology. I executed my very first Automated Deployment. All in under an hour.

The software is free forever. It is unrestricted in functionality and supported by the community of users. This free version limited to a generous 5 deployment end-points and I can buy more for under $1,500. I get a tee-shirt when I do.

How cool is that?

Follow the recipe

So now I am going to settle down and follow each of the guided tours and see what other miracles of technology await my discovery.

Next week I’ll share those experiences too.

In the meantime why not take an hour and try out Serena Deployment Automation for yourself?


System’s programmers on the mainframe have a pretty difficult time these days. More and more complexity, rampant growth of z/Linux, Websphere and RD&T boxes. Draconian constraints, compliance and governance mandates to be applied. All with fewer and fewer resources. It is a common problem.

Serena is here to help. Our ChangeMan SSM technology is designed to be the SysProg’s best friend and unswerving ally.

Sitting quietly in the background monitoring system datasets and members like the APF authorized libraries, the LINKLIST datasets, console commands and any critical application datasets, ChangeMan SSM will send out an alert to the SysProg when members of these datasets are changed in real-time. That message can be delivered to TSO or to email. Not only does ChangeMan SSM know who, how and when the change occured it also know what changed and provides a critical audit trail. If that change was accidental (or malicious) the SysProg can ask ChangeMan SSM to restore the change instantly.

Want to try it free for yourself? Go to the Serena website and download your free trial today or contact me and I’ll be happy to show you just how it works.

Business man runningThis is the first installment of an occasional series of posts in the run up to the launch of ChangeMan 8.1 later this year. As part of the routine pre-launch activities I’ll be chatting to the development team to learn about the cool features that have been added to this latest version.

ChangeMan ZMF is used by some of the largest mainframe development shops in the world. It is typical for these organizations to have hundreds of thousands of components managed and tens of thousands of components in motion. Keeping track of that requires the kind of sophistication and advanced capabilities that can only be found in ChangeMan ZMF.

Many of the largest customers in the world have the most complex and sophisticated release management problems and they make use of the Enterprise Release Option (ERO) of ChangeMan ZMF. Even though the mainframe has blisteringly fast performance, displaying a list of the 4,000 to 10,000 members of a release (typical for several ERO customers) could take a while.

In ChangeMan ZMF 8.1 the ERO process of selecting, searching and sorting lists has had a major overhaul. Where a list of a few thousand components might have taken several minutes in the past this has been reduced to mere seconds. This has been achieved through a number of thoughtful innovations in how we retrieve the information, how we cache it and how we present it. We have also optimized the access methods so only relevant items are retrieved in the first place.

New filtering capabilities also make it possible to really refine these lists to just what you need making the delivery times even faster. As Dave Banovetz, lead engineer on ERO said “the more defined your query the faster you get results.”

Due to several z/OS operating system constraints, it was common to maximize the storage utilization on these multi-thousand component lists. Again some very clever programming allows us to capture all the data and keep well short of these memory limitations.

To learn more about the new features and capabilities in ChangeMan ZMF version 8.1 please contact me.

Tags: Serena