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Are Mainframe Problems Being Ignored?

How well prepared for mainframe skills leaving your IT department? If you’re like the enterprises sampled in a new Compuware survey, the answer is -- probably not well.

Compuware’s study of 520 chief information officers in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, focused on “how enterprise organizations are addressing the impact of retiring mainframe developer teams.” Nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs “admit to having no plans in place to address mainframe developer shortages.” (The figure was 60 percent for CIOs in the UK and just 23 percent for Australian CIOs.)

Filling positions from a pool of college graduates doesn’t look promising, either. Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) of survey participants “believe that a lack of change in the mainframe environment is turning IT graduates off from mainframe development.”

“Businesses are supporting new technologies like mobility and cloud computing at record pace, forcing mainframe teams to contend with the added workload of quickly and successfully integrating new applications with legacy mainframe applications,” said Kris Manery, senior vice president and general manager, mainframe solutions business unit at Compuware said in a statement.

“This rise in mainframe development coupled with a lack of new developers -- a trend we call the ‘New Normal of Mainframe’ -- puts teams at risk of becoming less effective in supporting the applications that are critical to today’s world economy.”

More than half (56 percent) claim that “mainframe developers -- continually challenged to do more with less in a rapidly evolving IT environment -- are struggling to meet the changing needs of the business.” Part of that may be due to the staid nature of the mainframe. After all, it’s not where all the sexy new technologies can be found.

In addition, employers aren’t doing much to modernize mainframe environments. Why? According to the survey, it’s due to “high acquisition costs (60 percent), complex integration (54 percent), and high training and implementation costs (45 percent).

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/02/2012 at 11:53 AM

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Wed, Mar 14, 2012 New Jersey

Can't BUY a f**king mainframe job in the NY metro area! At the age of 52, I am always the fastest and most technically proficient and experienced whereever I go... certainly worth more to an organization than at least 4 offshore spuds. But the corpocracy is intent on denigrating and devaluing citizen developers (and really, ANY American worker). I just want a "permanent" job with benefits. Too much to ask?

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 John Canberra Australia

Thank you to the commenter of 4 March. I agree with point 1 - the "mainframe is dead" sales-pitch has been, like many other sales-pitches, highly premature. However I must disagree on point 2. I am an MBA and do not act in the way described. Such generalisations demonstrate a severely limited and highly biassed view of the issues. On the subject of points 3 and 4 I have no comment. Overall, the problem seems to stem from a combination of outrageous claims from the supply side of the industry (generally trying to push sales) and excessive focus on the "new and sexy" (and frequently untried) at the expense of the "tried and proven". It is time IT (as well as other areas) realised that "new" is not necessarily better. Sure, "new" can be good - possibly excellent, however it can also be very bad (observe the lack of substance (and outcome) in most of the claims regarding new technology). Also, management decisions should include consideration of facts and figures (generally available from the users within the organisation) as opposed to an assumption of infallability frequently programmed into recipients higher level education programs. Sure - education is helpful, but so is experience. Education without experience frequently has little or no value.

Sun, Mar 4, 2012

The blame for this 'problem' can be laid squarely at the doorsteps of: 1. the plurality of arrogant and ignorant university computer science programs who refer to mainframes as 'dinosaurs' and 'legacy technology' that have no clue about mainframes whatsoever 2. MBAs without a clue in charge of businesses with mainframe infrastructure and who lust for focus on so-called core competencies while outsourcing IT processes and expertise 3. IBM for failing to make mainframe technology affordable and ubiquitous 4. rampant age discrimination which prevents the genuine mainframe talent pool from finding employment

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