ARCAD Release Management Fits With UrbanCode DevOps
May 20, 2015 Dan Burger
IBM‘s midrange computers and the applications they run never seem to get the recognition they deserve when it comes to advanced technologies and methodologies. It’s not exactly stealing intellectual property, but it is dishonest to represent “new” ideas as if they were freshly hatched. DevOps is a good example. It’s a hot idea, but it also shares a lot of methodology with the IBM i and its predecessors, the iSeries and AS/400.
At the heart of DevOps is the change process and adding agility and speed to that process.
“It is not new in our field when you think about change management in the IBM i environment. Change management has a lot of DevOps features,” says Philippe Magne, CEO of ARCAD Software, a change management software company with close ties to the IBM i platform. “What’s new is the acceleration of the change process and delivering new releases to the end users.”
The features in change management software (CMS) haven’t changed, but the current DevOps emphasis–some call it a movement–makes better use of change management software. And like CMS, DevOps makes use of a framework and collaborative efforts. It’s fair to say that DevOps takes the technically oriented change management process and introduces it to a wider range of business-oriented workers. More people are participating in the software change cycle. Improvements and enhancements are being continuously tested and put into production. Rather than change as a big bang event, it is incremental, which improve quality and lowers risk.
What brings ARCAD into this discussion is not only what the company has done in the change management arena for many years, but what it is doing now.
The company’s most recent product enhancement is in the release management category–the deployment and transfer of applications from test to reference to production. Automation, security, and repeatability are critical aspects of release management that are built in to the release management software called ARCAD Deliver. It includes traceability from components level to application level as well as a process point of view. The combination of these features allow rollback–the decision to return to the previous stable state of the application the delivery process has to be abandoned for whatever reason.
What was missing from the release management process was the integration with IBM’s UrbanCode, a tool for automating application deployments by expediting user feedback and providing audit trails and the approvals process.
UrbanCode supplies the deploy functionality in the IBM DevOps offering, with rapid release for mobile, social, big data, and cloud. Until recently this functionality had been available only on distributed systems and System z. The ARCAD Deliver plugin brings the IBM i-specific technology needed to deploy the many language variants on the platform, manage their dependencies, and check for integrity.
“UrbanCode is being used primarily by large companies,” Magne observes. “They use it to deploy everything from a central point. It provides multi-platform automation in this critical phase. Each system has its own methods and systems for doing change management. RTC is eliminating that problem. It is the central managing point for all sources–from mainframe to IBM i and all the open systems. Large organizations are looking to move to standardized tools and methodologies. It is a strategic move.
“IBM is promoting open systems,” he continues. “Although traditionally open systems have not been of widespread interest in the IBM i community, but now it is a different story because the need is coming from people with the non-IBM i systems.”
According to Magne, there is a shift in the enterprise IT balance of power. Open systems are replacing platform-specific dynamics and control. One of the challenges that IBM faces is to move from designing and marketing proprietary systems to becoming part of a standardized IT environment. Many of the IBM i enhancements (and IBM investments) are done with this in mind.
This highlights one of the differences between DevOps and the traditional insular environments in IBM i environments.
“DevOps practices and tools are now mainstream on the majority of platforms,” Magne says. “They bring a massive advantage in time-to-market and system reliability. The benefits of DevOps go way beyond a simple automation of manual processes–they radically reduce IT cost and risk, and they have a direct impact on the business bottom line.”
Slightly more than four years ago, ARCAD shifted its product road map to closely entwine with IBM Rational Team Concert (RTC) integration. RTC is IBM’s collaborative change management system that emphasizes multi-platform collaboration, and ARCAD is the IBM i piece of that collaboration.
While other change management software vendors continued to compete with IBM and RTC, ARCAD pursued a strategy to surround RTC with additional tools to provide functionality in the areas of build management, deployment and release management, cross-referencing, and impact analysis. ARCAD’s products also integrate with Rational Developer for IBM i.