In an era when carriers depend more and more on technology, and that technology grows more and more complex, the venerable mainframe is seen as the machine that has the right amount of scalability and security. Most larger companies intend to keep on investing in big iron. However, these machines are more complex than your average PC or Intel-based server box, which can be loaded, configured and ready to run over the weekend.
Then problem is, most college students pursuing IT tracks are attracted to social networks, mobile apps, and lightweight, open-source scripting languages that run across laptops, mobile devices and the Web. Few consider the mainframe a career choice. Insurance companies seeking mainframe talent will need to scramble to compete with other types of companies for this shrinking base of talent.
Ninety percent of the 1,264 respondents to BMC’s Annual Worldwide Mainframe Survey consider mainframe to be a long-term solution, and 50 percent agreed it will attract new workloads; 59 percent expect MIPS capacity to grow as they modernize and add applications to address business needs. This highlights the need for software that minimizes expensive MIPS consumption and exploits the mainframe’s cost-efficient specialty engines.
IT experts in the survey reported that the mainframe continues to be their platform of choice due to its superior availability (cited by 74 percent), security (70 percent), centralized data serving (68 percent) and performance capabilities(65 percent). But they also cited some challenges associated with mainframe growth, including struggles to reduce IT costs (69 percent), speed recovery (34 percent) and simplify the increasingly complex mainframe and hybrid data center environment.
But, above all, there's a lot of concern about who will be around to run the mainframe. Concerns about the shortage of skilled mainframe staff plagues at least 75 percent of respondents. About 79 percent are concerned about systems management skills, 72 percent are worried about mainframe database capabilities.
What solutions are being put in place? About 53 percent report they offer internal training, and 37 percent are turning to outsourcing for capabilities. There are also other strategies that can be employed to move mainframe environments forward. About 46 percent are undertaking application modernization efforts through service oriented architecture. Automated, self-learning software is another way a number of respondents are addressing the problem,cited by 29 percent. Another 24 percent are looking at cross-training.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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