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Tech Mahindra Launches Mainframe Application Development and Testing Service

Tech Mahindra has launched Virtualized Mainframe Testing (vMT), a new service that offers clients savings on their mainframe application development and testing costs, especially for applications that are on a maintenance and enhancement/release mode.

vMT mostly focuses on reducing consumption of MIPS. In the context of mainframes, reducing MIPs usage is a key lever for lowering costs, as IBM mainframe-related hardware and software typically have license fees based on MIPS.

To achieve lower consumption of MIPS, vMT thus focuses on reducing dependency on mainframes, through mostly:

  • Proceeding to development and testing activities outside of mainframes
    - Tech Mahindra is using Micro Focus’ Enterprise Developer and Enterprise Test Server for replicating mainframes development and testing environments respectively (with their related zOS and middleware) on open severs
    - vMT is based on Micro Focus Enterprise Test Server for isolating the tested applications from the mainframes (and therefore reduce consumption of testing and development MIPS). It provides specific tasks e.g. call on mainframe processes, access mainframe source data, control and execute test batch processing and ensure coverage
  • Lessening dependency on external interfaces, whether for interfaces to application running on mainframes or being enhanced
    - Tech Mahindra uses CA’s service virtualization COTS for removing the need for using interfaces with other applications, whether on mainframes or not.

From a testing perspective, vMT is relevant for conducting regression testing, and other testing activities including systems integration as well as testing of software components as well as unit testing (by developers). vMT can also be used for UAT and performance testing but Tech Mahindra acknowledges clients are likely to use mainframes for UAT and performance testing.

Tech Mahindra sells vMT, for its development part; under two options: connect and non-connect. Under the connect option, the development environment is configured within 48 hours but requires more mainframe usage (i.e. more MIPS). The non-connect requires up to 10 working days of configuration work but is much lower on MIPS consumption.

Tech Mahindra also highlights its vMT offering  has several additional benefits, including:

  • Increased access to dev and test environments (access to mainframes can be difficult both during day time, while in production, and also during the night, due to batch job processing
  • Expanded test coverage (again, because using mainframes for test purpose is expensive in terms of MIPS and therefore tends to limit time spent on testing). The number of test cycles can be increased without depending on availability of mainframe hardware and software resources
  • Higher interest in developers. Micro Focus Enterprise Developer provides integrated development environments (IDEs) such as Eclipse or Visual Studio. This has two benefits:
    - Remote development, using more modern user interfaces than the traditional green terminals mainframes are known for
    - Better programming using well-known IDEs, coming with associated COBOL syntax verification, ultimately reducing the number of program compilations.

Tech Mahindra estimates vMT may drive cost reductions by up to 20% in MIPS lower usage. Other benefits come from improved productivity, largely on the development side, using standard IDEs.

vMT is a new offering; it currently has one client; among its prospects, one is evaluating rolling it out to 300 internal developers.

The offering is a joint effort between the testing team of Tech Mahindra and its mainframe CoE. The two units have set up a mainframe TCoE in Bangalore. They have certified 40 personnel on how to configure Micro Focus Enterprise tools. Tech Mahindra’s mainframe unit has also trained 40% of its own personnel (~1,700 currently) on using the Micro Focus tools.

Tech Mahindra has a license resell agreement with both Micro Focus and CA for the respective products.

vMT, unlike other traditional testing offerings, is less about testing effectiveness, less about expanding testing automation, than addressing a key aspect of mainframe applications: MIPS consumption, solving a problem that is specific to mainframes. It has another aspect: traditionally tools in testing tend to automate what human beings could do. vMT is also about doing what human beings could not do anyway e.g. service virtualization; or lower MIPS usage.

vMT is specifically about conducting enhancements and testing for applications in maintenance mode. This responds to a large number of cases with clients maintaining their investment in mainframes and mainframe applications. To date, in spite of recent waves in interest in exiting mainframes and despite the solid cloud computing trend, legacy modernization is yet to occur on a massive scale. When legacy modernization does happen, especially in the context of migrating applications on a virtualized environment or to a public cloud, NelsonHall will be looking to Tech Mahindra releasing a specific testing IP or offering to address this trend. In the mean time, Tech Mahindra is building a testing service portfolio that is one of the most comprehensive in the market with recent offerings around service virtualization offerings performance engineering and testing.

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