“Platform engineering emerged in response to the increasing complexity of modern software architectures. Today, non-expert end users are often asked to operate an assembly of complicated arcane services,” says Paul Delory, VP Analyst at Gartner. “To help end users, and reduce friction for the valuable work they do, forward-thinking companies have begun to build operating platforms that sit between the end user and the backing services on which they rely.”


Source: gartner.com/en/articles/what-is-platform-engineering

The ultimate goal of platform engineering is to simplify and accelerate software delivery. By eliminating the burden of various tools, dependencies, and access restrictions, developers can zero in on what they excel at – building systems.

Across the industry, Platform Engineering is becoming as important as DevOps. In this blog, we delve into its transformative application within the mainframe space.


Developer Experience is king

A firm focus on the developer experience (DevX) is key for efficiency and productivity. Here’s how to create an environment where developers can do their best work:

  • image with a crown and text DevXEssential Tools at Their Fingertips: Ensure developers have immediate access to the tools they need.
  • Reliable Testing Environments: Provide consistent environments for quick and easy testing.
  • Automation and Pipelines: Integrate automation tools and pipelines seamlessly.
  • Self-Service Management: Empower developers with self-service environment management, minimizing dependencies on other teams.

A robust DevX reduces cognitive load, allowing developers to focus on delivering high-quality applications, cutting technical debt, and tackling complex problems. Treat your developer tools and environment as a product, continuously enhancing it to delight its ‘customers’ – the developers.


Internal Developer Platform (IDP) for Mainframe

An IDP equips developers with tools, services, and infrastructure to build, test, deploy, and monitor systems independently. Tailored to each organization’s unique needs, an effective IDP ensures developers can operate without relying on infrastructure teams.

image of toolbox with text: IDP - toolbox, services and infrastructureIDPs aim to enable every developer, no matter their tool or UI preference, to be as effective and productive as possible. Providing the preferred abstraction level for each developer (for example if they want to use green screen with some helper utilities, an IDE with full automation tooling, or any other combination of tools) allows each person to adopt the tools they feel most comfortable with at that time. This approach works very well by providing options, rather than forcing adoption of a specific tool or new way or working according to a fixed timeframe.

A few other benefits of IDPs:

  • A consistent self-service experience for developers, with standardised environments and test data
  • A common framework for infrastructure orchestration, application config, deployment management, and environment management
  • Providing golden paths for developers (making it easiest for developers to use the services/tools preferred by the business) can have built-in guardrails e.g. compliance, monitoring, auditing.

IDPs are just as relevant for mainframe as for any other system. Mainframe is the most high-performant, reliable and securable computing system available, and is very well suited to the needs of current businesses, including scalability and confidential computing. However, mainframe sometimes lags behind other systems in terms of the speed of change, often due to lower DevX and less mature implementation of automation.

Bringing the Platform Engineering perspective to mainframe may be transformative for your business, as it will help your mainframe dev teams increase productivity and embed automation.


An off-the-shelf mainframe IDP

So, you are ready for a mainframe IDP, where do you start? You might consider PopUp Mainframe.

image plug, text: PopUp - a plug and play platformPopUp Mainframe is a plug-and-play platform for mainframe modernisation that can run on x86, LinuxONE or the IFL (Integrated Facility for Linux) on the physical mainframe. PopUp inherently runs any software which runs on a physical mainframe with no code or config changes required. It’s cloud-native and is available to purchase from Azure MarketPlace and RedHat Marketplace. PopUp provides tools, services and infrastructure that enable developers to build and test mainframe applications.

PopUp Mainframe helps you towards your Platform Engineering goals and can form a key part of your IDP.


PopUp Mainframe IDP Features:

  • Enhanced DevX – PopUp provides toolsets and utilities out-of-the-box to enhance DevX, and enables developers with common, reuseable tools and capabilities. PopUp gives you a springboard to quickly create mainframe instances to suit any use case. You can use PopUp as-is, then tailor it for your exact needs over a period of time.
  • Increased productivity for all – PopUp gives non-mainframers an easy way of using the mainframe and being productive quickly, through intuitive IDEs and open-access disposable environments which enable risk-free experimentation. It lowers the cognitive load on developer teams (for example, no need to navigate green screen) so they can focus on coding, innovation and increasing quality. Intuitive tooling enables developers to move between teams more easily, for example non-mainframers can move to mainframe systems and be productive straight away.
  • git logoAutomation-ready – PopUp interfaces with Git and pipelines out-of-the-box
  • Increased autonomy – developers can choose which tools they use based on their comfort at the time. This means each developer can go on the journey towards modern tooling at the speed they are comfortable at, rather than through coercion.
  • Infrastructure standardisation by design with low maintenance – Use your PopUp ‘gold copy’ to create completely standard mainframe environments. There is no need to maintain instances – just throw them away and create a new clone. Resource management can be optimised by spinning up PopUps on-demand
  • Delphix logoSelf-service – It is straight forward to provision a cloned PopUp which comes with the tooling and test data all ready to go. You can also use Delphix to fast forward and rewind your PopUp in seconds to any state.
  • Vastly reduced dependency on Ops and mainframe infrastructure teams – Developers don’t need to raise a ticket to the mainframe team, as they can make changes on the PopUp directly. There’s no need for tight security on a PopUp as there is no risk to the physical mainframe, so if something goes wrong, the PopUp can be rewound, or in the worst case, thrown away and a new PopUp created.


Success Stories

  1. Legal & General

Legal & General company logoLegal & General utilised PopUp for their successful mainframe transformation project with a heavy focus on platform engineering and DevX. Their approach was based on empathy, and they took time to really understand the challenges in their dev teams.

As stated in the article: using PopUp on “their platform engineering journey… enabled them to foster an excellent developer experience without the need for engineers who can use mainframe tools.”

See case study here.

  1. Energy Company

wind turbineAnother customer, an energy company, also used PopUps as part of their mainframe IDP. They provided developers with on-demand self-service mainframe instances including all the required tools and utilities pre-installed and configured, as well as complete sets of fully compliant test data.

They were able to setup a new mainframe environment within 2 days, compared to months’ wait time for a new on-prem LPAR. They created virtual batch and virtual online environments to facilitate much faster testing, and utilised the time travel capabilities of Delphix to fast forward and rewind their PopUps using Delphix.

The pre-built PopUps can be easily shared with other teams to improve DevX, and accelerate their development processes.



Platform Engineering and an IDP like PopUp Mainframe can revolutionize your mainframe development, boosting productivity, reducing dependencies, and fostering innovation. Ready to transform your mainframe operations? Dive into Platform Engineering with PopUp Mainframe and discover the future of mainframe development.


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