Cutter Survey Examines Mainframe Demand

A recent survey by Cutter Consortium found that more than half of the respondents (51 percent) still have major applications running on mainframes and a quarter have more than half of their critical applications on the mainframe. But, here’s the problem: The study found that the companies are having a hard time finding the programmers needed to keep the mainframes running.

"There is very little disagreement among respondents about the ultimate problem faced by mainframe organizations: people!" says Cutter Technology Council Fellow Ken Orr. "A significant number of respondents (48 percent) expect to have problems with either vendor hardware or software support, but more than 85 percent of the respondents see the availability of knowledgeable mainframe personnel as their key problem."

The majority of respondents also agreed on how to solve the problem: Get someone else to do it. In other words, outsource. A great majority -- 77 percent -- of the respondents plan on looking outside their company for mainframe programmers.

But, Orr says that may not be as easy as it looks. "The problem with relying on outsourcing is that the outsourcers have to draw on the same labor pool as the rest of us. We are going to have a labor crunch for the next two decades as the baby boomers retire. The people we depend on today are going away, and no one under 30 wants to work with dinosaur technologies."