Shift-Left Approach

Written by: Praveen Verma

Taking a DevOps-driven approach towards mainframe batch scheduling that shifts more responsibility directly to developers can help them manage their needs without sacrificing the necessary oversight from the scheduling team. Let’s explore!

What is Shift-Left?

Shift-left refers to moving responsibilities and decision-making earlier in the development process, often to the developers. This approach aims to reduce bottlenecks, improve efficiency, and increase team collaboration. In the context of mainframe batch scheduling, this means enabling developers to manage their scheduling requirements while still receiving the necessary guidance and support from the scheduling team.

Why Embrace Shift-Left?

The value of shift-left arises from prevalent issues IT organizations face today, such as multi-step scheduling processes with many handoffs and complex integration requirements. These processes lead to unnecessary dependencies, misinterpretations, mistakes, and errors, ultimately reducing efficiency and productivity. Additionally, the increasing complexity and time-consuming nature of integrating various applications and tools within an organization, including third-party applications, ticketing systems, change management systems, and CICD tools like Jenkins, UrbanCode, or Ansible, highlight the need for a more streamlined and automated approach.

Shift-left addresses these challenges by empowering developers to manage their needs in a self-service fashion—removing manual handoffs, and promoting automation throughout development. This results in improved efficiency, reduced errors, and better team collaboration. By implementing shift-left, organizations can integrate multiple products and tools more effectively, adapt to evolving business requirements, and maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing technology landscape.

Automate Scheduling Without Sacrificing Expert Control

Just as owning a car requires a team of experts to handle its complex systems, scheduling is a sophisticated process that relies on the expertise of the scheduling team.

Various critical systems in a car—engine and transmission, electrical and electronics, suspension, steering, braking, and the like—demand expert attention due to their complexity and potential hazards from improper maintenance or repairs. Though the list is extensive, the key takeaway is that maintaining or repairing a car is impossible without a skilled team to ensure its smooth and safe operation.

Similarly, self-service and automation in the context of shift-left do not imply a loss of control over scheduling—a common misconception. The scheduling team remains unmatched in understanding job scheduling and dependencies, application topologies and their critical paths, and security and access control. Given the high complexity of scheduling systems, improper configuration or maintenance can pose significant risks to the business, potentially leading to revenue loss and reputational damage. Therefore, the scheduling team’s expertise remains crucial in ensuring a seamless and secure scheduling process.

DevOps-Driven Mainframe Batch Scheduling

One way to implement shift-left in mainframe batch scheduling is to adopt a DevOps-driven approach. This involves leveraging modern DevOps tools and principles to automate and streamline the scheduling process. Some of the key components of a DevOps-driven mainframe batch scheduling process include:

  1. YAML-based scheduling config files: Developers create human-readable and easy-to-maintain YAML configuration files that specify the job schedule. This streamlines the scheduling process and enables developers to define requirements in the language and tools they love and use every day.
  2. Python script validation: Custom Python scripts are used to validate the YAML config files for correct syntax and ensure proper communication with mainframe scheduling systems (such as ESP or CA 7). This prevents errors in the scheduling process and maintains the necessary level of quality assurance.
  3. Jenkins pipeline orchestration: A Jenkins pipeline is used to manage the entire scheduling process, from validating the config files to storing the validated artifacts in a repository (such as Artifactory). This ensures seamless integration and version control.
  4. Ansible deployment automation: Ansible is used to automate the deployment of the validated YAML config files to the mainframe scheduling system, which in turn creates the batch jobs according to the provided schedule. The scheduler’s (ESP or CA 7) security ensures that only authorized artifacts are updated. This reduces the manual effort required by the scheduling team and increases the overall efficiency of the process.
  5. Scheduling team oversight: The scheduling team continues to play a vital role in the process, as they collaborate with other approvers in reviewing and approving pull requests for the YAML config files. This ensures that the proposed changes make sense and meet the organization’s requirements, providing a layer of quality assurance.

Benefits of Shift-Left in Mainframe Batch Scheduling

There are several key benefits to adopting a shift-left approach to mainframe batch scheduling:

Improved efficiency and productivity: By enabling developers to manage their scheduling needs, the scheduling team can focus on more strategic tasks and higher-value activities. This leads to increased overall productivity and a more efficient scheduling process.

Greater flexibility and agility: Developers have more control over their scheduling needs, allowing for faster adjustments and changes as needed. This makes it easier to adapt to evolving business requirements and maintain a competitive edge.

Better collaboration and communication: The shift-left approach fosters improved collaboration between development and scheduling teams. This leads to better communication, fewer misunderstandings, and a more streamlined process overall.

Enhanced quality assurance: By involving both developers and the scheduling team in the process, the shift-left approach ensures that scheduling changes are thoroughly reviewed and validated. This helps maintain a high level of quality assurance and reduces the potential for errors.

Are You Ready to Shift-Left?

Adopting the shift-left approach in mainframe batch scheduling offers numerous benefits to organizations, including:

  • Improved efficiency 
  • Greater flexibility
  • Improved collaboration 
  • Enhanced quality assurance 

By leveraging modern DevOps tools and practices, developers can manage their scheduling needs, effectively addressing the challenges of multi-step scheduling processes and complex integrations.

It’s essential to recognize that the shift-left approach does not imply a loss of control over scheduling. Instead, it fosters a collaborative environment where the scheduling team’s expertise remains crucial in ensuring systems run smoothly and securely. By striking the right balance between developer empowerment and expert oversight, organizations can reap the benefits of shift-left while maintaining the highest standards of quality and security in their mainframe batch scheduling processes. Embracing the shift-left philosophy in mainframe batch scheduling can help organizations improve overall productivity and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Are you ready to begin a conversation on shift-left scheduling? Contact our team!

Broadcom Mainframe Software Division empowers enterprises to amplify the value of their mainframe investments in ways that drive their business forward. Our market-leading DevOps, AIOps, Cybersecurity and Compliance, Data Management, and Foundational & Open Software solutions enable clients to adopt common tools using industry standards and integrate mainframe as part of their hybrid cloud. Our commitment to partnership extends beyond software and features Beyond Code programs that give customers the power to achieve greater business success with the platform.

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