Compuware has a long history of providing mainframe software technology. It was founded in 1973, supplying professional services. It was not until late 1977 that Compuware introduced its first product, Compuware Abend-AID, a mainframe-level fault management tool. Subsequently, Abend-AID was joined by File-AID, Xpediter Hiperstation and Strobe during the course of the 1980s and 1990s. These mainframe tools remain well-respected but its next significant innovation was in 2015, when it released Topaz, a visual program/code analysis and data visualisation tool, intended to help developers new to the mainframe effectively understand, update, maintain and troubleshoot even complex and/or most poorly documented legacy systems. Its most recent acquisition is ISPW Benchmark Technologies, which provides end-to-end code management and release automation across all platforms.
The company started its international expansion at about the same time as it was expanding its portfolio beyond Abend-AID and it became a public company in 1992. In 2014, Compuware executed a series of divestitures and the company was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo in 2015 (see press release here). Around the same time, the company appointed a new CEO, Chris O’Malley, a noted leader in the mainframe space. Dynatrace, a former division of Compuware, was spun off and today operates as an active business under Thoma Bravo. With its new focus, Compuware claims to have become the world’s largest mainframe-dedicated software company.
Compuware is now very much a new company, targeting the “new mainframe” – increasingly seen as the epitome of performance and resilience for Enterprise servers to aim for (fears of the “death of the mainframe” are very much of the last century; it is still here and still essential to many large organisations). Compuware’s product portfolio now spans developer productivity; code quality; application performance; test data quality and privacy; and source code management and release automation.
The company recently made its own internal transition from a waterfall to an Agile development model, which (it says) is enabling it to deliver “net new” technology and relevant updates to core products every 90 days. As an end-to-end Agile company, Compuware is now strongly encouraging enterprise customers to adopt Agile processes and methodologies to compete more effectively in the global digital economy. To head off a potentially dangerous mainframe development skills shortage, Compuware is also urging customers to bring mainframe application code into the broader enterprise DevOps environment and make mainframe development different only in programming syntax for next generation developers, a process Compuware calls “Mainstreaming the Mainframe”. As a result of these changes, we think that any reputation Compuware may have had for being rather complacent and old-fashioned is rapidly being outdated.
Compuware has now integrated with a number of solutions from commercial and/or open source vendors (we see this as a good approach, no-one can build everything). These include App Dynamics, Jenkins, Splunk, CorreLog, Atlassian and Dynatrace. These integrations help IT staff to comfortably perform mainframe-related tasks using popular tools. The company also formed a partnership with BMC in 2015, with the aim of helping its customers to manage software cost.
Compuware leverages its Field Technical Services team to assist with solution implementation and training. It also provides a complementary Value Improvement Program that provides fact-based metrics (such as usage statistics) to help its customers improve ROI.
Overall, we see the newly-privatised Compuware as now not only exploiting its extensive Mainframe installed base, but as also actively pursuing growth.
- Mainframe programming and the modern developer
- Legacy, a reassessment - Legacy applications may be generating the profits that are paying for your innovation
- Compuware is rising from the ashes of its spinoffs. - Perhaps there really is money in mainframes
- Heads-up on an application performance management tool