Response Time

Pass the Popcorn

Is it possible to get reprints of the article "Popcorn and E-Commerce" from the March 2001 issue of Enterprise Systems? Please provide the details and process, if it can be done. It is a very well-done article dealing with a rather complex arrangement.

Dick Walter

SCICOM Data Services

Editor’s note: For reprints of any Enterprise Systems articles, columns or editorials, please contact Tony Holloway of Reprint Management Services at (717) 399-1900, ext. 135.

Rumors of Mainframe Death

No wonder mainframes get a bad rap with statements like the one from [the recent Cutter survey] ("Cutter Survey Examines Mainframe Demand," Breaking News, February 19, about the lack of mainframe programmers: "No one under 30 wants to work with dinosaur technologies."

I have worked on mainframes for 13 years, and I can say that IBM has made great efforts in keeping the mainframe up to current technologies, along with other vendors.

Jim Mackey

I have worked in the mainframe environment for over 17 years, and I do agree there are less of us around every year. [I believe] it has come about in part due to industry media’s false claims about the mainframe, economics and new technologies available to general public.

Back in the late 1980s, the buzzword was "THE MAINFRAME IS DEAD," and it was published by the trade magazines. And, here we are in the year 2001 still talking about the mainframe burial (not enough programmers) ["Cutter Survey Examines Mainframe Demand"]. If the article implies that e-mail servers, FTP servers, PRINT servers, DNS servers, UNIX applications or Linux, all running in the mainframe, are dinosaur technologies, then someone tell me – what is the new technology?

In the early 1990s, many mainframe jobs were lost due to hostile takeovers, mergers and acquisitions, so fewer mainframe jobs were in demand at that time, and companies having to cut costs went with the most experienced programmers, leaving no chance for new programmers to get hired. Top mainframe schools (such as NYU) dropped their learning programs in the early 1990s, because teaching PC courses became the thing to do – there is no argument here, yet businesses do not run well in PC environments. I still remember many friends (mainframe programmers) being laid off, thinking of going to PC LAN support.

I can only guess at the forces driving this survey and other industry media articles. Ultimately, hardware and software vendors have one thing in common, and that is to dominate the industry – whoever does a better job in marketing will steer the rest to do the same. Customers will by into this new "THING" until next thing.

The bottom line is that companies need to compete and will use inefficient software on non-mainframe platforms to get the job done. And, in the end, the applications will not have a resting place because it remains as inefficient as it was in the past in the mainframe. Which brings us back to: Does the company still running on the mainframe, "the IRON," [still have] robust security and processing power environment?

Fernando Castillo

No kidding!! When companies value those who work on mainframes and keep the business running, they may have less trouble finding somebody to support that environment. Then again, since all the prize assignments go to the 30-somethings who know the latest technology, maybe not. Especially when the alternative is to not be valued, to be lower paid, to be pigeonholed only into the old technology and forced to carry a beeper for contact if needed for support. They’ve brought it on themselves, so they don’t get a lot of sympathy from me.

Lynn Saul

Editor’s note: Receive the latest industry news through Enterprise Systems’ e-newsletter, ESJ E_BOX. For free subscription details, visit

Looking Back, Going Strong

Enjoyed the article in February ESJ on the past 10 years. My computer perspective:

1961: BATCH – punching Algol-58 programs on IBM 26 key-punches and feeding them into the B-220 at college (Case Tech).

The ’60s: Graduated college, worked for IBM as an SE on 1400 and then early S/360 systems (MCW 101, BR 15, assembly, dbomp).

1971: TIME_SHARING – keying PL/I programs via an IBM 1051 terminal into an IBM 360/67 TSS system at NASA Lewis (now Glenn) as staff for a consulting company.

The ’70s: Worked at above consulting company; Xerox Data Systems, IBM systems programmer, small OEM/consulting company (CODYSL databases, COBOL, Assembly, BASIC).

1981: MICROs – Keying BASIC programs via dumb CRT terminals into micro-computers (Alpha Micro, IBM System 23), as staff of an OEM/consulting company.

The ’80s: Micros, PCs, Tandem Computers, transaction processing, relational databases, tech support on ATM network, ethernet, scripting.

1991: LANS – Using a networked PC for proactive monitoring, as part of tech support on a large ATM and POS network.

The ’90s: Tandem to UNIX – consulting; 10 Base-T, Oracle, Informix; software vendor; on-site consultant; in-house staff person; Linux.

2001: Web, UNIX – Sys admin, using a PC on the LAN and Internet to monitor and support a network of 30 UNIX systems, 100 Base-T, ATM.

Charles Pervo