ARCAD Plugs IBM i DevOps Suite Into Microsoft Azure
January 18, 2021 Alex Woodie
IBM i developers can now leverage a collection of DevOps tools on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, courtesy of a new integration announced in December 2020 by ARCAD Software.
Azure DevOps is an end-to-end DevOps environment that provides a range of project management services for developers who are building software to deploy on Azure or other platforms.
Microsoft ostensibly introduced the software as a service (SaaS) offering back in October 2018. But in reality, Azure DevOps is the latest name of a product that can trace its lineage back to 2006, when Microsoft launched Visual Studio Team System.
Through its five main components, Azure DevOps offers some of the same DevOps services that ARCAD Software provides with its flagship offering, ARCAD for DevOps. Both packages support Git repositories, Jenkins CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines, Jira for issue tracking, Maven for code-checking, Sonarqube for continuous code-checking, and Selenium for browser automation.
The big difference between the two offerings, of course, is that ARCAD for DevOps supports IBM i development in languages like RPG and COBOL, whereas Microsoft does not. But by integrating ARCAD for DevOps with the Azure DevOps offering, ARCAD Software is enabling its IBM i customers to tap into the code management, testing, and deployment capabilities offered by Azure DevOps, which will particularly useful for organizations that have adopted the Microsoft offering for the cloud and for other platforms in their organizations. Which about 79 percent of organizations still do, according to the latest IBM i Marketplace Survey from HelpSystems.
Getting IBM i applications to play nicely with Azure DevOps provides a benefit to ARCAD customers, particularly as they embark upon application modernization projects, says ARCAD CEO Philippe Magne.
“Modernization means incorporating IBM i application development into standard DevOps pipelines already in use on other platforms,” he says in a press release. “IT leaders need a single, end-to-end, all-inclusive view to pilot diverse applications and manage complex dependencies automatically.”
The integration between ARCAD and Azure DevOps environments yields what is essentially a “single toolstack,” which reduces risk and boosts productivity for development teams, Magne continues.
“By integrating ARCAD solutions within Azure DevOps we help IT leaders accelerate value delivery across their entire application portfolio, while empowering them with the metrics and intelligence they need for continuous improvement and maximum ROI,” he says.
Azure DevOps is composed of five main components. They include:
Azure Board: A visual environment for planning development projects using Kanban boards, as well as tracking work items and reporting on project progress;
Azure Pipelines: A CI/CD platform for deploying applications to cloud and on-prem environments using containers or VMs. (Microsoft claims it supports “any language” and “any platform,” but the IBM i operating system and native IBM i languages are not among them.)
Azure Repos: A private Git repository for storing source code. It integrates with Azure Pipelines and other CI/CD systems to automatically trigger builds, tests, and deployments from pull requests.
Azure Artifacts: An integrated package management system designed to simplify complex builds by storing and integrating packages from other systems, like Maven, npm, Python, and NuGet.
Azure Test Plans: A testing environment for planning, executing, and tracking testing scripts for applications, which can also be integrated into Azure Pipelines.
According to ARCAD, its Azure DevOps plug-in enables organizations to create IBM i application build and deploy tasks within an existing Azure pipeline with a single click. The plug-in supports both graphical editing or YAML configuration as code, the company says.
The new plug-in also enables application artifacts to be pulled from the Azure DevOps Artifact repository (or from GitHub, alternatively), which simplifies the task of hooking IBM i deployment into a “fully authenticated secure service connection,” the company says.
On the ARCAD front, the DevOps integration touches a range of the company’s products, including:
- ARCAD Observer (for application discovery)
- ARCAD CodeChecker (for checking RPG and COBOL code)
- ARCAD Builder (for build automation on IBM i)
- ARCAD iUnit (for unit test automation)
- ARCAD Verifier (for regression test automation)
- DROPS for i (for deployment and rollback of IBM i apps)
Magne says his driving goal is to enable modern IBM i development to take place within any DevOps culture, including those who are comfortable with open source as well as those preferring more standardized environments.
“We have already seen a massive adoption of Git, Jenkins and Jira in our customer base and have successfully deployed ARCAD for DevOps inside open source pipelines for some of the largest IBM i development organizations worldwide,” Magne says. “However, not all organizations are comfortable with relying solely on open-source tools. Some would prefer to adopt an ‘all-in-one’ toolstack including enterprise support, instead of maintaining their own in-house pipeline. It is to service these customers that we have made Azure DevOps a key element of our DevSecOps strategy on IBM i.”
For more information, see the company’s website at www.arcadsoftware.com.