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How to do Test Automation in Mainframes

Maria Homann

Maria Homann

There are many approaches to automating mainframes. However, these all start with uncovering what you can and should automate. Read on to learn which tests to automate for your mainframe.

When testing mainframes, you should consider the different levels at which you can test, as well as where within these levels you can implement test automation to achieve a low-risk, efficient release cycle.

If you haven’t already, read our blog post on test automation for mainframe applications to learn why test automation is an essential ingredient in optimizing the processes surrounding mainframe development and testing.

Unit tests

The first level at which you can test is unit testing. Unit testing is about testing individual components of the larger system, which for mainframes typically means testing COBOL programs and individual paragraphs of code.

You can automate unit tests to achieve a more efficient ‘assembly line’ in your mainframe development that allows you to test more, in less time, and with higher accuracy, resulting in less faulty code being passed down the assembly line.

For this you’ll need a mainframe test automation tool that can read the unit tests, and aren’t GUI-based.

Integration tests

The next level of testing is integration tests. As the name implies, the purpose is to test integrations between applications within or outside the mainframe.

Integration tests are not to be overlooked; you may have two functioning unit tests, but without testing the integration test, you cannot know that the applications under test are fully functional.

Despite their importance, integration tests are sometimes overlooked, typically due to time restraints and bottlenecks in the testing team. Test automation can help solve this problem.

Related reading: How to do Test Automation in Mainframes

With automated tests that run across programs in the mainframe, you can verify that transactions go through as intended, programs run smoothly together, and database calls go through unchallenged.

System tests

System tests are designed to test the full, integrated system and check that it complies with the specified requirements. Here, you test not only the mainframe, but the applications the mainframe is connected to, for instance, the customer-facing UI app, the enterprise service bus interface, the transactions, and the database.

This type of testing is quite comprehensive, but can be eased with test automation.

By setting up end-to-end tests that run across applications and technologies, a high test coverage can be achieved with minimal human resources. Instead of spending their time on manual test execution, testers can focus on test design and improvement, which can have a significant positive impact on the end-user experience.

With a code-free automation tool, any mainframe expert - regardless of their programming skills - can set up the tests. As a result, dependencies can be removed and teams can flow through bottlenecks in the testing and development pipeline. The developers who have mainframe expertise can then spend their valued time and skill on actual mainframe development.

Related reading: Mainframe Testing: Why Now is the Time to Automate

Acceptance testing

The last step in the testing assembly line is acceptance testing, where the purpose is to assess if the system is ready for delivery by evaluating whether it complies with business requirements and regulations.

The goal here is to check that the system lives up to set criteria, and that it performs as intended for end-users.

Once again, test automation, and particularly no-code test automation designed for mainframes can significantly improve quality across the board.

This type of testing is sometimes done outside the testing and development team by support, product management, or other relevant teams, which supports the case for using a no-code automation tool, because anyone - technical experts as well as business experts - can contribute to test automation.

Learn more about mainframe test automation

In conclusion, it’s possible to increase the quality and confidence in the mainframe delivery pipeline by introducing automated testing throughout the different testing levels.

By doing this, issues can be detected earlier, reducing costs and lowering risk.

In effect, businesses can deliver better value to their end-users faster.

Download our guide to green screen testing to learn how to overcome common challenges in mainframe testing to achieve efficient, low-risk, and low-cost operations.

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