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CIOs unprepared for shortage of mainframe experts – study

Veronica C. Silva | March 6, 2012
Shortage results in inefficiencies.

They have been deemed as dead decades ago. Yet, they're still very much alive in today's computing world. And yet, again, the industry is unprepared.

Mainframe computers, which were thought to have died to save the world from the year 2000 (Y2K) bug, are still used in today's enterprises. Unfortunately, they are not contributing to operations' efficiency because of the lack of experts who can maintain them, according to a recent study of CIOs from across technologically-advanced countries.

The recent study commissioned by Compuware revealed that enterprise chief information officers (CIOs) are not prepared to address this shortage.

This shortage poses a problem to enterprises that are rapidly deploying some of the latest computing technologies, such as cloud computing and mobility. Because of the haste to adapt to these technologies, enterprises are interconnecting to the legacy mainframes, for which there are only a few people available to maintain them.

Compuware, which develops mainframe solutions, commissioned Vanson Bourne to conduct the study which involved more than 500 CIOs in large enterprises with over 1,000 employees. The CIOs were from the U.K., France, Germany, the U.S., Italy, Benelux, Japan, and Australia. The results were published in a white paper titled "Mainframe Succession: Long Live the Mainframe."

Record pace

The study further revealed that this lack of talent stalls efficiency yet IT graduates are turned off from mainframe development.

"Businesses are supporting new technologies like mobility and cloud computing at a record pace, forcing mainframe teams to contend with the added workload of quickly and successfully integrating new applications with legacy mainframe applications," said Kris Manery, senior vice president and general manager, mainframe solutions business unit, Compuware.

"This rise in mainframe development coupled with a lack of new developers - a trend we call the 'New Normal of Mainframe' - puts teams at risk of becoming less effective in supporting the applications that are critical to today's world economy."

Even then, 46 percent of CIOs admit to having no plans in place to address mainframe developer shortages, the study noted. Other issues that hinder the modernisation of the mainframe environment are the high acquisition costs (60 percent), complex integration (54 percent), and high training and implementation costs (45 percent).

Manery added: "IT efficiency is about making better use of what you already have, so any moves to update the mainframe environment must happen with a minimal investment of time and cost. Developers across the board, whether they are experienced or new to the mainframe, need choice and flexibility to use the tools and techniques that will empower them to improve productivity."


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