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Top 8 Mainframe Testing Tools

Compuware XpediterIBM File ManagerIBM Debug ToolIBM Application Performance Analyzer for zOSCA InterTestIBM Fault Analyzer for zOSCA File Master PlusCA Mainframe Application Tuner
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    I like the ability to flow through the source and see what happens to the data as the statements are executed. If there is a fault, it will track the event, and we can then look back to see why it may have caused the fault. You can also reverse engineer your test. You can set it so that you can go backward as well as forward in your test. This is something that I haven't done here at my company. Compuware Xpediter is one of the best debugging tools for mainframe software development. We have currently licensed only the COBOL language for Xpediter, but I know they have other languages, including Assembler, PL/I.
  2. Programmers can verify their changes more quickly, identify any kind of logic mistakes in the program more quickly.InterTest is also bundled with SymDump. We see this as a bundle. They are always together for us. So InterTest is used for debugging process, walking through the code, checking data conditions and code flow. SymDump is used for the fact, after a problem occurs. SymDump catches what point in time the problem occurred, all the other connecting data, and points us to the code to indicate what caused the situation.
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  4. Provides ease of use, ease of manageability, and ease of managing DSN files.We use it together with Grid Tools to mask IMS data.
  5. The DB2 feature is valuable because DB2 is the is the main source of performance problems in our environment.Beneath a specific transaction, you can see an example of optimization.

Why is mainframe testing important?

With the world driving toward digital transformation, companies need to stay competitive while keeping costs under control. All of this while giving a world-class user experience and beating the competitors to market. This is easier said than done for most organizations, and even more difficult for businesses using mainframes because of outdated processes for testing the systems.

Heavily regulated industries like banking, financial services, insurance, and healthcare still use mainframes. Why? Here are some reasons:

  • Reliability: The hardware is resilient to system crashes.
  • Scalability: You can run multiple transactions in a single mainframe application. That means it requires fewer resources and is easy to scale up.
  • High availability: Mainframes are designed to run constantly, without downtime. There is no need to reboot, even during updates.

Testing is an essential part of mainframe efficiency. The problem is that today’s business environments move significantly faster than traditional mainframe development and testing can keep up with. That’s because, for the most part, mainframe testing is still performed manually. Therefore, to meet the current demand to deliver higher quality at a rapid speed, mainframe testing needs to adopt test automation.

Now is the time to implement continuous testing on the mainframe so you can shift left, testing earlier and often before sending the application into production, thus ensuring the performance of your applications. A way to do this efficiently is to use mainframe testing tools.

How does mainframe testing work?

Traditional manual mainframe testing involves testing job batches against the test cases developed. It is usually performed in deployed code. The deployed code is applied and tested using combinations set into an input file. Testers access mainframe applications by using a terminal emulator on a client’s machine. By conducting mainframe testing, you are ensuring that the system or application is ready to market.

The process starts by determining how a specific process will be modified in the release cycle. The testing team receives a document with the requirements and defines how many processes the change will affect. The percentage can usually range between 20 to 25% of the application.

Next, the mainframe application is tested in two general stages:

  1. Testing the requirements: This involves testing the application for the change mentioned in the requirement document.
  2. Testing the integration: Testing the entire process for its integration to the affected application.

There are several steps to follow for mainframe testing:

  1. Shakedown: The first step is ensuring the codes deployed are in the testing environment. Then the codes are checked for technical errors and approved for testing.
  2. System testing: Testing the functionality of individual subsystems into the mainframe system, their standalone performance, and how they work with each other.
  3. Testing in job batches: The mainframe tester executes batch jobs, testing the scope of data and files. It then records the test results by extracting them from the output files.
  4. Online testing: If the batch-testing was in the back end, the online testing tests the front end, testing the entry fields of the mainframe application.
  5. Integration testing: Testing the mainframe’s data flow between the back end and the front end. How the batch job and the online screen interact. The tester validates and approves the performance before moving to the next stages of mainframe testing.
  6. Database testing: At this stage, we test the mainframe’s database. This test validates and approves the database where the data for the mainframe application is stored.
  7. System integration testing: Now we can test how the system performs in its totality and its interaction with other systems. This ensures the mainframe system integrates with others in an organized manner.
  8. Regression testing: This testing ensures the different systems don’t negatively affect the system that is being reviewed.
  9. Performance testing: The next step is to test the performance of the system to try to detect bottlenecks and other activities that may hamper the performance or scalability of the application in its specific environment.
  10. Security testing: The system needs to be tested for its ability to resist security attacks before it can be approved. Usually this involves testing for mainframe security and network security in areas like integrity, confidentiality, availability, authorization, and authentication.

Benefits of Mainframe Testing Tools

Integrating the right testing tools can save time, prevent human error, and produce faster and more accurate test results than manual testing. Since testers don’t need to spend hours in manual processes, they have time to improve the tests. Therefore, it creates a cycle of test quality improvement.

Some of the benefits of integrating mainframe testing tools are:

  • More agility
  • Shorter release cycles
  • Lower risk of errors
  • Higher efficiency
  • Lower costs
  • More scalability

Features of Mainframe Testing Tools

The benefits of using test automation are clear. Still, integrating test automation can be a challenge. Choosing the right mainframe testing tools and the right platform is essential for a successful transition.

Some key elements for a mainframe testing tool include:

  1. The ability to test across technologies: Since mainframes are typically connected with other platforms and critical business technologies, the testing tool needs to provide end-to-end testing across technologies. Providing visibility across the environment enables testing teams to easily detect bugs and errors.
  2. Test repository: This enables testers to create, review, and adjust manual and automated tests. Additionally, test reporting and archiving can be useful for audits.
  3. Cross-device testing: The best mainframe testing tools enable tests to be conducted across environments, including desktop, API, cross-browser, and mobile.
  4. A codeless tool is nice to have: If the tool is codeless, it means that the testing team can create tests a lot more quickly. It also makes the mainframe testing available to non-technical team members. Thus, mainframe testing can be a continuous activity, conducted by testers, without the need to wait for the mainframe developer to do it. This ensures agility and continuous optimization.