No More Compromises: Test z Systems Applications without Impacting Production

By: Megan Oster

Electing to reduce testing in order to reduce non-production MIPS consumption is a poor decision that could lead to millions of dollars in losses. The temptation to place priority on time-to-value over production safeguarding methods is certainly understandable. Mainframe shops tend to shy away from investments in safeguarding production, wary of the drain they can have on resources and revenue.

And these are not the only complications. Provisioning non-production environments, even those that are simple, can become a routine administrative burden. Mainframe shops also wrestle with allocating mainframe capacity between production and non-production workloads. Both of the aforementioned issues can have a crippling effect on development, as well as automated build, test and deployment.

Fortunately, there is a way for shops to maintain production safeguarding methods independent of production resources. A dedicated z/OS environment, equipped with a suite of validation tests, is a viable option. It can help shops achieve a continuous build process with test-driven development and automated regression testing, which is often hindered by a lack of appropriate test environments. Rational Development and Test Environment for System z (RD&T) is one such solution.

RD&T is a packaged z/OS environment with a middleware stack that supports workflow for development and testing of mainframe applications. It uses Linux software device driver programs to create a software version that replicates the hardware environment of a z Systems platform. z/OS and a set of middleware solutions used in application development and test run on top of the software.

Paired with a Rational Integration Tester, RD&T allows virtualization of services that are typically only available in the production environment. Used together, RD&T and RIT make extensive functional testing possible with almost no dependencies on production resources. RD&T also enables self-testing builds and automatically invoked unit tests while builds are running.

RD&T runs on Intel-compatible hardware rather than z Systems hardware, allowing any Intel-compatible server to host it. Off-premises solutions such as RD&T in the cloud via IBM SoftLayer are also available.

Due to its design, RD&T offers developers an authentic z/OS environment, mitigating the risk of corrupting the production environment. It is a test solution that saves mainframe shops from feeling pressured to sacrifice production safeguarding methods in favor of time-to-value.

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