Many insurance carriers are still heavy-duty mainframe shops, so the latest survey research to come out of CA Technologies ought to provide some encouraging (but not surprising) news: mainframe systems are the foundation for growth and innovation in the years ahead.
And it's not just because mainframes are big honking boxes with lots of MIPs—the survey of 623 IT professionals finds mainframes are assuming core roles within emerging private clouds and big data challenges.
And here's an interesting angle: Most mainframes will be managed from mobile devices. The study finds, for example, that two-thirds of U.S. respondents and 74 percent of global respondents say they already have or are planning to sanction mobile management of the mainframe within the next 18 months.
This may help, to some degree, companies faced with finding trained staff to run those mainframe machines. Seventy-six percent of global respondents and 74 percent in the U.S. believe their organizations will face a shortage of mainframe skills in the future, yet almost all respondents felt their organizations were moderately or highly prepared to ensure the continuity of their mainframe workforce. Additionally, about 8 percent indicated having great difficulty finding qualified mainframe talent, while 61 percent reported having "some" difficulty in doing so.
The need for such talent is critical. The survey finds that more than half of both U.S. and global respondents (51 percent and 58 percent respectively) believe the mainframe is or will be a highly strategic platform in their cloud computing efforts. Flexibility in the delivery of new services, scalability and security were cited as the most important benefits in leveraging the mainframe to enable cloud. As such, 63 percent of respondents globally and 65 percent in the U.S. are either currently evaluating or planning to deploy new tools that enable the rapid deployment and cost-efficient provisioning of private and hybrid cloud services on the mainframe platform in the next 12-36 months.
As the mainframe’s role in cloud computing evolves, a cross-disciplinary skillset becomes a critical criterion in identifying qualified candidates. Over the next 12 months, 89 percent of global and 84 percent of U.S. respondents planned to implement some form of hybrid cross-platform management, including design teams, shared budgets, shared staffing or shared organizational leadership. With this in mind, more than half of respondents worldwide (55 percent) said that when recruiting mainframe talent, it’s essential for a candidate to possess both mainframe and distributed skill sets.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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