July 20, 2021
by Todd Erickson
Phase Change President Steve Brothers recently authored a contributed article for Nextgov.com about how artificial intelligence (AI) tools can help governments deal with the mainframe-developers skills shortage and continue to maintain critical legacy systems.
The article, How AI Can Help with Critical Government System Maintenance Needs, describes how we should change the current industry strategy of solving the skills crisis by simply increasing the number of programmers with legacy language skills.
Brothers' article explains why the problem isn't just language skills, it's the lack of application knowledge to productively maintain applications. Supporting applications is very different than creating them. Defects are discovered through behaviors, which the developer must trace back to the flawed source code. The defective code and its dependencies can be spread throughout the codebase in multiple modules and repositories. Without the application knowledge to know how the system works, maintenance becomes an unproductive scavenger hunt. Then the developer must discover how the repair will impact the rest of the system.
AI tools help developers locate and isolate defective code by conceptualizing code computations at machine speed. It eliminates code unrelated to the bad behavior and enables the developer to find and focus on defects. Then the AI simulates running the repaired code to determine change impact so the developer is confident his work won't negatively affect the application.
Todd Erickson is a Technology Writer with Phase Change. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.