Monday, December 5, 2011

IT's most wanted: Mainframe programmers

Thanks to David Gaertner for pointing me towards this very interesting Infoworld article.

The article points out what many of us already knew:  the mainframe is very much alive and well.   Or as Mark Twain said many years ago, it's death has been "greatly exaggerated".  The core statistic cited in the article:  80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies still use the mainframe.  And let's not forget government at just about all levels, federal, state, and local, still are heavily invested in mainframe technology. 

Why?  The article says it clearly enough.  "The mainframe's staying power in the age of tiny computers is all about its performance for high-volume transactions and its strengths in security and virtualization".   What's the ramification of this?  In the next few years there is the potential for a mainframe skills shortage.  "A Compuware survey of 520 CIOs in large enterprises found that 71 percent are concerned that this looming skills shortage will hurt their businesses...". 

I've had the opportunity to mentor many younger colleagues over the years.  One of the things I often mention to them is the importance of mainframe skills in the coming years.  As the mainframe grey beards (frankly like me), retire in the next 10 to 15 years, the need for mainframe skills will become even more prevalent.

Let's look at it another way.  If every mainframe shop in the Fortune 500 decided tomorrow to switch from the mainframe to other platforms, it would still take many years for that work to get done (and that's really assuming it's even technically feasible in all cases).  Arguably from a business perspective, it's probably more cost effective to identify and train younger talent to close the skills gap. 

If you are interested in the article, here's the link:,0&source=IFWNLE_nlt_stradev_2011-12-01

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