IBA Group's Zowe™ DevOps Suite to Modernize Mainframe

December 15, 2023 

In partnership with DC Nearshoring, IBA Group recently hosted an insightful webinar focusing on the Zowe™ DevOps Suite. Uladzislau Kalesnikau from IBA Group and Davide Criscione, CEO of DC Nearshoring, led the session. Below is a brief summary of the webinar highlighting the latest advancements of the Zowe™ DevOps Suite and its role in mainframe modernization.

What is Zowe™

Zowe™ is an integrated open source framework for z/OS, connecting the legacy of mainframes with modern technology to shape their future. It offers a ready-to-use set of applications, APIs, and operating system capabilities, laying the groundwork for future application development.

Several years ago, IBA Group’s expertise in developing open source plugins for mainframe DevOps led to an invitation to collaborate on the Zowe™ project. Since then, the IBA Group Zowe™ team has been dedicated to creating tools that enhance mainframe access via IntelliJ IDEA™. The team’s commitment and innovative contributions have been recognized, as the Zowe™ IntelliJ Extension is set to be featured in the upcoming Zowe™ V3 core release.

Zowe™ DevOps Suite: Bridging Mainframes with Modern Development Environments

The Zowe™ DevOps Suite is an ecosystem of tools used by IBA Group to enhance mainframe DevOps, providing an agile and accessible environment for mainframe operations. A notable aspect of the suite is the inclusion of specific plugins developed by the IBA Group’s Zowe™ squad as part of the broader Zowe™ project. Tailored for the IntelliJ platform, these plugins are crucial in bridging the gap between traditional mainframe systems and modern development environments. The Zowe™ DevOps Suite simplifies access to mainframe resources and aligns these systems with agile and efficient DevOps workflows, enhancing accessibility and user-friendliness for today’s developers.

Advantages of Zowe™ DevOps Suite

Enhanced Accessibility. The suite makes mainframe data sets and USS files easily accessible from popular IDEs, removing the need for specialized mainframe-only tools.

Streamlined. Workflow By integrating with mainstream development and automation tools, it streamlines the workflow between mainframe and non-mainframe components.

Community and Open Source. Being an open source project, it benefits from the collective input and innovation of a global community of developers.

Flexibility and Adaptability. The suite supports a variety of programming languages and technologies, making it adaptable to various development needs.

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). The suite facilitates the implementation of CI/CD practices in mainframe environments, leading to more efficient and faster deployment cycles.

Key Components of Zowe™ DevOps Suite

The Zowe™ Explorer Plugin for IntelliJ IDEA™

The Zowe™ DevOps Suite includes the Zowe™ Explorer platform adapted for various IDEs, among which are the popular IntelliJ IDEA™ by JetBrains and Visual Studio Code. The Zowe™ Explorer for the IntelliJ plugin, developed by the IBA Group Zowe™ squad, meets a wide range of programming needs, supporting languages like Java, JavaScript, Kotlin, Python, and C. The selection of IntelliJ IDEA™ for the Zowe™ Explorer platform is significant, as it offers robust Java support and a comprehensive toolkit for working with modern technologies and languages. This choice not only accommodates a diverse array of development tasks, but also smoothens the learning curve for new developers, thereby improving the efficiency of mainframe data management.

Jenkins® Integration via Zowe™ DevOps Plugin

The Zowe™ DevOps plugin for Jenkins®, a vital part of the Zowe™ DevOps Suite, automates mainframe interactions, simplifying data transfer and job submissions. It enhances pipeline automation, especially for mainframe-based workflows.

Additionally, the UI Jenkins® plugin for IntelliJ IDEA™, currently in development and based on the Jenkins® Control plugin, integrates Jenkins® features directly into IntelliJ IDEA™. This enables monitoring and managing Jenkins® pipelines within the IDE, streamlining the development process.

Both plugins support various z/OS languages and offer Java and Kotlin support in IntelliJ IDEA™. As open source tools, they’re continuously updated, reflecting the evolving landscape of software development.

Zowe™ JCL Plugin for IntelliJ IDEA™

Part of the Zowe™ DevOps Suite, the Zowe™ JCL plugin for IntelliJ IDEA™ enhances the Zowe™ Explorer’s capabilities in IntelliJ IDEA™. This plugin supports Job Control Language (JCL), enabling developers to highlight JCL code directly within the IDE. It offers features like automatic code highlighting and code completion, with more advanced features planned for future updates. Currently in version 0.1, the plugin is widely available for IntelliJ IDEA™, open source, and free. Actively developed by the IBA Group’s Zowe™ squad, it ensures stability through continuous updates and Long-Term Support (LTS). Users can contribute to its improvement and report issues on GitHub.

Continuous Development and Upcoming Tools: CICS and COBOL Plugins for IntelliJ IDEA™

The Suite is continually evolving, with tools like the CICS plugin and the COBOL plugin for IntelliJ IDEA™ being in active development. These plugins will further expand the capabilities of the Suite, particularly in supporting mainframe-specific languages and systems. The COBOL plugin, in particular, is preparing for the integration of emerging technologies like Language Server Protocol (LSP).

AI Integration and GitHub Copilot

Looking towards future advancements, there’s a focus on integrating AI into mainframe development. Efforts to incorporate AI tools like GitHub Copilot aim to provide coding assistance for COBOL, potentially easing the development process and increasing efficiency.

Community-Driven Development

The open source nature of the Zowe™ initiative encourages community involvement. Users and developers can contribute to the suite’s growth to ensure that it remains responsive to the evolving needs of the mainframe community. We invite you to join us in this journey of co-creating the future of mainframes.

For more information or to get involved with the Zowe™ DevOps Suite team, please contact Alex Burak.

Additionally, we invite you to download and explore the plugins that make up IBA Group’s Zowe™ DevOps Suite for IntelliJ IDEA™:

Zowe™ Explorer for IntelliJ (JetBrains  GitHub)

The Zowe™ DevOps Plugin for Jenkins® (Jenkins®  GitHub)

The Zowe™ JCL Plugin (JetBrains  GitHub)

Zowe™ Client Kotlin SDK (GitHub)