What Is Mainframe Testing – All You Need to Know

Anna Khrupa by Anna Khrupa on 07/1/2022

What Is Mainframe Testing – All You Need to Know

Mainframe testing is the testing of apps or software based on mainframe systems. The mainframe testing definition implies that its main aim lies in confirming that the execution and reliability of software or application are at the top level and that the app is fully prepared to launch. It is performed on the deployed code for various data combinations set into the input file. The mainframe testing uses various validation procedures and approaches to ensure everything goes flawlessly. 

Online testing is all about testing CICS screens (here CICS stands for Customer Information Control System). So, the testing person should only know how the CICS screen navigations work. They shouldn’t be concerned about the system’s emulator if changes to the code are in JCL, COBOL, or any other programming languages, as modifications on one terminal emulator (which is the software needed to get installed on the client computer) will also work on other emulators.

Classification of Mainframe Manual Testing

According to the traditional classification, 2 significant types of mainframe testing are distinguished: online and batch job testing.

Online testing is essentially testing CICS screens, the process analogous to testing the web page. One can modify the functionality of the existing screens or add new ones. Applications can have inquiry and update screens. Thus, both screens’ functionality has to be checked in terms of online testing.

The batch job testing is the implementation of batch jobs for every functional element in the recent release. Batch job testing is a two-phase process. At first, every job gets checked individually. Then the interaction between them is validated by providing a file to the first job and validating the database.

What Are Mainframe Attributes

In mainframe testing, there are the following mainframe features that should be considered.

  • Virtual Storage.

It aims to make disc storage more economical and efficient by simulating that real storage is more extensive.   

  • Multiprogramming.

The essence of it is understandable – a computer runs multiple programs simultaneously. 

  • Batch Processing.

This method allows for completing the task in parts. 

  • Time-Sharing.

Every user gets access to the system via the terminal device. 

  • SPOOLing.

Simultaneous Peripheral Operations Online is utilized to collect and save the output of an application or software, then the result may be sent to devices.

How to Do Mainframe Testing

Typically, mainframe testing includes five stages, one resulting in another.

Stage #1. Planning

The initial stage is all about preparation. The documents that specify the way of modifying every item during the release should be drawn up. Then testing and development teams will go on to determine which and how many processes may be impacted by modifications. The next thing is to prepare test cases and scenarios.

Stage #2. Scheduling

When the documentation is ready, it’s time for both teams to take it over. At this stage, one should create a testing schedule considering the overall project plan. 

Stage #3. Deliverables

When the documents get prepared, the team will check the deliverables. They must be non-vague, perfectly described, and match the test purposes.

Stage #4. Implementation

The following phase is the implementation one. The previous requirements during the execution will directly impact up to 25% of the app. The remaining part of the deployment will be based on non-standard features. As a consequence, two levels of mainframe testing are needed.

Testing Requirements. It is focused on the characteristics determined in the requirement documents.

Testing Integration. It is about checking the entire procedure and all the apps that have data inter-connected with the main application.

Stage #5. Reporting

The test results of both actions go further to the development team consistently. The testing team should have solid and regular connections with the development team to make essential modifications fast and efficiently.

Methodology in Mainframe Testing

The method below is appropriate for testing in the mainframe following 6 phases.

Phase 1. Smoke Testing

Here one checks if the code is in the correct test environment and confirms code doesn’t have any substantial code issues.

Phase 2. System Testing

This step involves the following four testing types that include batch and online. The other two are online-batch integration and database testing. 

Online-Batch Integration testing is where the data of the online screens, batch jobs, and interaction between those two are checked.

Database Testing is related to databases in which the data from the mainframe application layout and storage are validated.

Phase 3. System Integration Testing

This one aims to check the work of all the systems interacting with the tested system. The interacting systems don’t get directly impacted by the requirement, though considering that they use data from the primary system, one should validate the flow between them and their resultant actions.

Phase 4. Regression Testing

This one is typical for any project. This test aims to assure that the new functionality does not affect batch jobs and online screens that are not supposed to interact with the system directly.

Phase 5. Performance Testing

It is concentrated on determining the back-ups in the hard-to-access data and planning the app’s development.

Phase 6. Security Testing

It assesses how the application can deal with combating security attacks.

Mainframe Testing Benefits

The advantages of performing mainframe testing include the following impact:

  • making optimal use of the majority of resources;
  • avoiding the same work being done twice or multiple times;
  • enriching and significantly improving user experience;
  • reducing production downtime;
  • boosting customer retention;
  • dropping the general cost of IT operations.

Testing in Mainframe – Final Words 

Mainframe computers still play a vital role for large companies in diverse spheres. So, it is (and will be) essential to test the applications hosted in the mainframe before the launch. Both batch job and online testing should be performed effectively with particular attention to detail not to miss any functionality elements stated in the requirement documents, and no test case should go unnoticed.

The main advantages of successful mainframe testing are that it improves the efficiency of the resources and the overall user experience. Therefore, the production time and the cost of the project decrease significantly. 

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