Implement Azure DevOps for mainframe applications that use IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack

This article can help you get started with building Azure DevOps pipelines that run Git-based IBM Dependency Based Builds (DBBs) on z/OS. Although Azure DevOps is primarily used by distributed applications, many organizations are looking for consolidated solutions that integrate with modern IBM mainframe development workflows.

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  1. The z/OS application source code is migrated into a Git-based source code management (SCM) system.
  2. Azure Boards streamlines work item creation, assignment, status monitoring, and progress tracking.
  3. Wazi Code simplifies the development of mainframe applications.
  4. Wazi Analyze is used for code analysis and dependency resolution.
  5. Unit testing of code changes can be tested manually against a developer-owned Wazi Sandbox environment. 
  6. Code changes are committed back to the Git repository from the web-based IDE.
  7. Code changes pushed to the repository trigger a build via Azure Pipelines.  
  8. Automated builds, deployments, and tests are run against a containerized z/OS environment within the Wazi Sandbox.
  9. In Azure Artifacts, successful builds are systematically stored to provide a centralized repository for versioned artifacts.
  10. Production release scenarios follow a typical Git-based release automation process, starting with branching/tagging Git commits to be used in production. 
  11. When automation is triggered on release branches or tags, it initiates production deployment based on change management guidelines and the approval process in the on-premises z/OS environments in your datacenter.


  • Azure DevOps provides developer services to help teams plan work, collaborate on code development, and build and deploy applications. Developers can work in the cloud by using Azure DevOps Services or on-premises by using Azure DevOps Server.
  • IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack provides highly secure access to mainframe applications and data via APIs. It provides industry-standard tools that can help you implement DevOps, and supports modern languages.
  • The Wazi components that are available in IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack enable the analysis, development, and testing of mainframe applications in an isolated way.
  • Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform brings together services to reduce the friction of developing, modernizing, deploying, running, and managing applications. Built on Kubernetes, it provides a consistent experience across public cloud, on-premises, hybrid cloud, and edge architectures.
  • Azure Virtual Network is the fundamental building block for your private network on Azure. It provides enhanced-security connections that enable Azure resources, like Azure virtual machines, to communicate with each other, the internet, and on-premises networks. Virtual Network is similar to a traditional network that you might operate in your own datacenter, but it provides the additional benefits of the Azure infrastructure, like scale, availability, and isolation.
  • Azure ExpressRoute enables you to extend your on-premises networks into the Microsoft Cloud over a private connection that’s facilitated by a connectivity provider. You can use ExpressRoute to establish connections to Microsoft cloud services like Azure and Office 365.


You can use Azure VPN Gateway to connect on-premises networks to Azure over the public internet by using an enhanced-security, encrypted connection. VPN Gateway can provide a cost-effective option for organizations that don’t require the high bandwidth and low latency of ExpressRoute.

Scenario details

Azure DevOps can help you develop and modernize your z/OS applications that use IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack. Doing so can result in increased agility and enable developers to work faster and more productively. You can modify your existing COBOL, PL/I, Java, or assembler programs by using any IDE.

Azure DevOps

Azure DevOps provides developer services to help teams plan work, collaborate on code development, and build and deploy applications. Developers can work in the cloud by using Azure DevOps Services or on-premises by using Azure DevOps Server. (Azure DevOps Services was previously known as Visual Studio Team Services.)

Azure DevOps provides integrated features that you can access through your web browser or IDE client. You can use one or more of the following services, depending on your business needs:

  • Azure Repos provides Git repositories or Team Foundation Version Control for source control of your code.
  • Azure Pipelines provides build and release services to support continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) of your apps.
  • Azure Boards provides a suite of Agile tools to support the planning and tracking of work, code defects, and issues by using Kanban and Scrum methods.
  • Azure Test Plans provides tools to test your apps, including manual/exploratory testing and continuous testing.
  • Azure Artifacts enables teams to share Maven, npm, and NuGet packages from public and private sources and integrate package sharing into CI/CD pipelines. By using Azure Artifacts to manage COBOL files, you can ensure that all developers in your organization have access to the correct versions of files and their dependencies.

IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack with Azure DevOps

The Azure DevOps Git-based code repository and agent-based Azure pipelines can integrate with IBM DBB solutions on IBM zSystems for mainframe application development and build processes. DBB, available through the Wazi Code component of IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, complements Azure DevOps by providing intelligent build, link, and edit capabilities. The combination enables developers working on large, complex applications to develop, build, and deliver in an agile manner.

You can use Azure Boards, which is independent of platform, to manage mainframe-based sprints. Azure DevOps runs CI pipelines that can construct and deploy mainframe applications that run in either batch or online mode, with or without Db2 and MQ.

By integrating IBM UrbanCode Deploy into Azure pipelines, you can get a comprehensive CI/CD pipeline for on-premises, cloud, or hybrid platforms that encompasses z/OS applications. The IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack, based on the Red Hat OpenShift platform, includes various capabilities to modernize mainframe applications. For development and test purposes, IBM Wazi includes Wazi Code (IDEs, DBB), Wazi Analyze, and Wazi Sandbox, which together provide mainframe developers with a cloud-native experience that doesn’t require application installation.

Here are some additional benefits of using Azure DevOps together with IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack.

  • Wazi Code provides an in-browser IDE that you can use to develop, build, and debug COBOL, PL/I, Assembler, Java, Rexx, and JCL applications. By using this approach, you can easily modify mainframe applications and take advantage of programming languages like Python, Node.js, and Go, which can all run on IBM z/OS. This approach enables you to easily adapt to new languages while still retaining the flexibility to work with preferred IDEs.
  • DevOps for zSystems, integrated with Azure DevOps solutions, spans Azure services and z/OS environments to orchestrate the development, integration, and deployment of applications across IBM zSystems and Azure.
  • IBM zSystems development tools and processes are no longer siloed. Adopting Azure DevOps and adapting to IBM DBB blends mainframe repositories into a single source code repository across technology stacks, and an integrated change management and approval process with coordination of auditing and reporting across the enterprise.
  • Solutions from Azure and IBM enable organizations to free themselves from the restrictions and increasing costs of legacy tools to focus on effective project management. IBM and Azure speed up transformations to the hybrid cloud, so you can deliver solutions quickly and efficiently.

Potential use cases

  • Implement an end-to-end CI/CD pipeline for on-premises, cloud, or hybrid platforms that include z/OS applications.
  • Enable mainframe teams to work in parallel with distributed development teams, implement a single standard, and use common tools for DevOps and SDLC across the enterprise.
  • Provide a consistent and familiar developer experience for z/OS applications together with a flexible dev and test infrastructure on Azure.
  • Speed up application development and the development lifecycles of mainframe applications.


These considerations implement the pillars of the Azure Well-Architected Framework, which is a set of guiding tenets that you can use to improve the quality of a workload. For more information, see Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework.


Reliability ensures your application can meet the commitments you make to your customers. For more information, see Overview of the reliability pillar.

  • Azure DevOps provides CI/CD pipelines that allow you to automate the build, testing, and deployment of your application. These pipelines can help you ensure that your application is always up to date and reliable.
  • Azure DevOps provides collaboration tools that allow your team to work together effectively.
  • RedHat OpenShift Container Platform provides automated deployment capabilities, which can help ensure that your applications are deployed consistently and reliably.
  • Using a standard and consistent approach to building, testing, and deploying applications across Azure and IBM zSystems can help developers reduce the risks associated with code changes.
  • Azure DevOps and IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack enable application modernization with fit-for-purpose workload placement across environments, which reduces the risk involved in full migration scenarios.


Security provides assurances against deliberate attacks and the abuse of your valuable data and systems. For more information, see Overview of the security pillar.

  • Azure DevOps allows you to control access to your resources and data by using role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC helps to ensure that only authorized users can access your resources. For more information, see Security best practices.
  • Azure DevOps integrates with Azure Security Center, which provides additional security insights and recommendations that can help you identify potential security problems and take steps to address them.
  • You can enhance and extend your current DevSecOps practices by taking advantage of the security capabilities of IBM zSystems. By doing so, you can effectively mitigate business risks, help safeguard application data, and help ensure the long-term security for your systems.

Cost optimization

Cost optimization is about reducing unnecessary expenses and improving operational efficiencies. For more information, see Overview of the cost optimization pillar.

  • Azure DevOps provides automation capabilities that help you reduce the time and effort required by manual tasks. By automating tasks, you can optimize costs and improve efficiency.
  • Azure DevOps integrates with other Azure services, like Azure Monitor and Azure Advisor. This integration can help you optimize costs by providing insights into resource usage and recommendations for cost optimization. Use the Azure pricing calculator to estimate the cost of implementing your solution.
  • IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack and Azure DevOps reduce the need for customized z/OS tools by allowing organizations to implement the same CI/CD toolchain and practices as the rest of the enterprise.

Operational excellence

Operational excellence covers the operations processes that deploy an application and keep it running in production. For more information, see Overview of the operational excellence pillar.

  • Azure DevOps is a powerful platform that provides a comprehensive set of tools for managing the entire software development lifecycle. Overall, by using Azure DevOps, you can achieve operational excellence by improving collaboration, automating key tasks, monitoring performance, and streamlining the software development and deployment process.
  • Wazi Sandbox, a personal z/OS environment, can be provisioned on Azure with all the required z/OS resources (IMS and CICS, for example) that enable developers to work in isolation, run initial builds, and conduct early tests to verify code changes.

Performance efficiency

Operational excellence covers the operations processes that deploy an application and keep it running in production. For more information, see Overview of the operational excellence pillar.

  • You can ensure performance and stability of multi-tenant integration test environments by using isolated Wazi Sandbox instances to perform build and test operations earlier in the software development lifecycle.
  • Azure DevOps can help you improve performance efficiency in several ways. It provides a robust CI/CD pipeline that can help automate the build, test, and deployment process. This pipeline helps reduce the time required to deploy new features and bug fixes, improve the quality of the application, and reduce the risk of errors during deployment.


This article is maintained by Microsoft. It was originally written by the following contributors.

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Next steps

For more information, contact Legacy Migrations Engineering.

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