Information Security in the Real World. Confidentiality, Availability, Integrity, Practicality.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Is there a Mainframe Skills Shortage?

I like Joe Clabby. He tells it like it is. He has responded robustly a number of times now to Gartner advice to move off the mainframe to more "modern platforms". His latest such article is here.

However I think the truth lies between Gartner's doom and gloom predictions and Clabby's upbeat "you've never had it so good" optimism. Don't be under any illusion, decades of in depth knowledge of mainframe systems is going to leave your organisation over the next few years. But where Gartner gets it wrong is their insistence that the solution lies in migrating off the mainframe. They have used that phrase "more modern platfom" many times in recent years and this is starting to look like staggering ignorance of what IBM have been doing with System z for ten years.

There's no need to move off System z for modernity. IBM have brought modernity to System z. You want management GUIs? Check out the Tivoli automation range. You want a visual developer platform? Rational Developer for z (RDz). You want to run Java, C and C++? No problem. You want to consolidate your racks and racks of servers? Virtualise them? z/VM is the worlds most mature hypervisor, add SLES or RedHat Linux for up to 1500 servers in a 30kW box 10 feet square.

But I do think now is the time to modernise your mainframe. To streamline and automate the maintenance and management of the infrastructure. The product set has never been richer and I recommend you take a look. The greybeards will go soon, and while there are a new generation of System z afficionados leaving college as we speak, don't make them suffer needlessly. Enable them to be productive and creative. Simplify, streamline and automate with IBM Software.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are right - there is a middle ground answer here and it is easy to understand why enterprises have got into the state that they are in. My perception is this:

    1) Mainframes were traditionally used to do the large number crunching required to run, for example, a retail banking platform.

    2) Windows, AIX & Solaris servers were used for point solutions serving web based content, or mail platforms or other client server applications.

    3) An enterprise can easily justify a £10K spend on a server for a point solution because the business sponsor will have the cash to justify that spend in a business case.

    4) The mainframe is a shared infrastructure and the cost of the infrastructure has been more difficult to apportion (historically) to relevant business units.

    5) And yes - too many grey-bears unwilling to move with the times.

    I see similar stories even in the middleware space where shared services becomes painful not for technical reasons but for political and cost apportionment reasons.

    I don't mean this to sound downbeat - quite the opposite. I think System z is reaching a point in its evolution (or should that be revolution) whereby the traditional barriers to exposing its capabilities to business units around the enterprise are being broken down.

    For many people concerned with solutioning, platforms shouldn't matter. Just make sure the kit goes fast and stays up! Can System z do that with a cost model that doesn't cause political upheaval? The big question in that is the politics question I guess!

    (Just my tuppence... my mainframe days ended in 2003. Halcyon days!)