IBM i in the Modern DevOps World: Accelerating Software Development and Deployment

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IBM i has recently added tools that allow developers to use DevOps methodology directly on IBM i.

Through IBM i’s new Modernization Engine for Lifecycle Integration – called Merlin – IBM i developers can now reap the benefits of a hybrid cloud, multi-platform DevOps implementation. Merlin gives developers access to many modern methods. It allows users to code containerization, it attaches to Git, it connects to Jenkins for automated testing and deployment, and it sits on Red Hat OpenShift. It’s part of a trend over the last decade of IBM i opening up to support open source tools and languages.

With this new support for a DevOps workflow, organizations using IBM i now have a new option available to them. In this article, we’ll go over some of the pros and cons of adopting IBM i’s DevOps solution at your organization.

DevOps: A shift in mindset

If your organization already uses a DevOps methodology for non-IBM i code, then your RPG and cobalt programmers will likely adapt to IBM i’s DevOps system smoothly. Your organization is already set up for a DevOps method.

However, if your organization hasn’t implemented DevOps before, then the shift can present some challenges. DevOps is a combination of tools and practices that allow an organization to deliver software faster. Using DevOps, organizations update and evolve products extremely quickly, which is intended to improve customer experience and company competitiveness.

DevOps is not simply a tool you install or use. It requires shifts to the way teams work together. In some cases teams may be rearranged; project management will change drastically; and many other roles are adapted.


The benefits of DevOps’s rapid product updates are significant:

  • Faster development
  • Faster deployment
  • Improved customer support
  • Faster company growth
  • Improved collaboration
  • Faster resolution of security concerns

But as any people leader knows, changes to team collaboration and workflow require significant effort, time, and buy-in from developers. The traditional waterfall methodology that many organizations currently use is drastically different from a DevOps or Agile workflow. Instead of working on large sets of code for long stretches of time, and then deploying all at once, with DevOps every small change will go to production within days of programming.

Making that change is all about mindset. Individuals and teams will have to get on board with the change and embrace a new way of thinking about development and deployment.


Welcoming a younger generation

The transition to DevOps will be easier if there are people on the team who are familiar with the process and can answer questions and guide the others. Someone who is familiar with the terminology, processes, and philosophy of DevOps can be a valuable resource on a team transitioning to a DevOps system.

In some cases, this may mean bringing in younger developers who have learned DevOps methodology at school. DevOps may even attract younger developers, many of whom are more comfortable in a DevOps environment. In today’s competitive hiring landscape, this may be an overlooked benefit of transitioning to DevOps.

If an organization is ready to shift to IBM i’s new DevOps methods, it’s smart to begin by implementing DevOps on a single project to develop internal expertise.


DevOps is here to stay

In IT, we impose changes on our users and customers daily as technology evolves. It’s only fair that we accept change as well.

Just as languages rise and fall in popularity, development methodologies follow trends. Top enterprises and experts are adopting DevOps rapidly. DevOps is clearly the rising star in the IT world, and an organization would be unwise not to give it due consideration. Here at R2i, we’re experimenting with DevOps for our development of our customized cloud solution and for implementing Infrastructure as Code.

With IBM i’s Merlin, DevOps will be more easily accessible to organizations already familiar with the IBM i environment. We are eager to see how Merlin will affect the efficiency and productivity of organizations who adopt it.

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