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Making Mainframes Cool Again
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Shantaram
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Shantaram,
User Rank: Moderator
4/22/2017 | 4:17:22 AM
Re: 192.168.0.1
Exactly! It's really interesting solution, thanks
SteveTrautman
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SteveTrautman,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/20/2016 | 3:44:38 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
Thanks for the great comments TerryB.  You are spot on in that schools are not going to solve this problem and the millenials coming up need some help seeing how working in this way is good for their careers. We all benefit from a little "selfish motivation" when it comes to stepping up to a task. 

One of the reasons the solution i'm proposing works is because we start by demystifying the idea of working on the mainframes.  If we tell our next gen colleagues that they're going to "learn mainframes" that is much harder to imagine than breaking the work down into discreet tasks that start with "troubleshoot, analyze, design, build and test."  Then they're learning  "81 tasks and skills" that collectively make up what it means to "learn mainframes." It is finite and do-able rather than overwhelming.  Anyone can chip away at a list!

We also give them tools to extract the secret sauce of their very experienced colleagues so they are at no one person's mercy when it comes to being "taught."  With a few common sense ideas we can make the whole idea palatable, practical and even fun!

 

 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/20/2016 | 1:44:38 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
@Steve, I'm just glad to see people like you actually have ideas. Not something many people are talking about.

Two major problems in this area:

1) Schools are not teaching any of these skills anymore. The IT landscape has gotten so scattered, I'm not sure what they are teaching these days that actually helps get a job later.

2) New IT people want to be the next Zuckenberg, they no longer view it as a safe technical low profile career. They want to be in on the next Uber. Anyone using a mainframe does not fall into that class of business.

But if you can overcome that hurdle, get a new IT person to commit to a business which isn't sexy by nature, I see no reason they wouldn't absorb these skills. I went to Comp Sci major in school because there were jobs, I had no idea what IT work out in real life looked like. Or cared for that matter, just wanted to make a good living. I have to believe many people still feel the same way.

I think you are definitely on correct track identifying what these key skills are they need to learn besides just the programming languages themselves. And much of that depends on just what these young people learned how to do in college. I wrote (partial) compilers and operating systems in college, along with classes where you write code implementing algorithms like Traveling Salesman and binary sort. I don't know what kids today are even being taught. HTML? Java? Javascript? CSS? Cloud?  None of those does much good in mainframe world. I'm not even sure how much relational database training they get anymore in this increasingly unstructured data world.

You have tackled a real issue here, thank you for trying.
ANON1250092266115
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ANON1250092266115,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2016 | 9:53:58 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
A key attribute us mainframers have is a mindset, amend an expectation, that both systems of hardware and software, and applications, too, can be built such that problems can be solved on their first occurrence. It involves keeping traces, logs, etc and footprints of logic paths, etc. Yes I wrote, " First Fault Problem Solving", a book explaining the mindset, etc. Some non mainframe systems have this attribute, and some systems are growing into it. But new programmers have to be taught this. They often favor do-overs, which are so impractical in so many ways.
ANON1250092266115
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ANON1250092266115,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2016 | 9:53:55 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
A key attribute us mainframer shave is a mindset, amend an expectation, that both systems of hardware and software, and applications, too, can be built such that problems can be solved on their first occurrence. It involves keeping traces, logs, etc and footprints of logic paths, etc. Yes I wrote, " First Fault Problem Solving", a book explaining the mindset, etc. Some non mainframe systems have this attribute, and some systems are growing into it. But new programmers have to be taught this. They often favor do-overs, which are so impractical in so many ways.
RobertM903
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RobertM903,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2016 | 12:41:58 PM
Mainframe Talent
Not all of that legacy talent has one foot out the door to retirement.  I've got 9 years to go at least.  Know COBOL, Fortran, Assembler, AND PL/I.  I could lead one of those teams.
SteveTrautman
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SteveTrautman,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/19/2016 | 10:46:20 AM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
Thanks for the comments guys. I wonder what you think about the ideas around bringing the next generation into the fold to support mainframe over the long term?
Ron_Hodges
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Ron_Hodges,
User Rank: Moderator
4/18/2016 | 3:52:28 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
I think the reason they ran Watson on Linux on P-750 hardware was to show that this (Linux on POWER) was a serious platform, especially in the HPC space.


Check this out: http://www.zdnet.com/article/what-makes-ibms-watson-run/
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/18/2016 | 3:44:27 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
I get where you are coming from @Ron, can't say I disagree with anything you said. No question the parts are better in IBM servers than cheap commodity hardware. My point on that was those cheap commodity server arrays are designed expecting failure of individual servers, that rarely kills the application serving. So in that regard, I'm not sure if "uptime" is any different than mainframe type systems with better parts. But it's sure harder to write robust, secure applications on these server arrays than it was on mainframes, people are proving that just about everyday.

My point on Linux was it was not created for servers, it was created to compete with Windows. That's awesome it performs that well when on servers.

IBM mainframes were never really UNIX servers, that space belonged to the HP and Sun's of the world back in the day. So I'm guessing Linux on mainframes is IBM's way of competing with cheap server arrays. The POWER systems running AIX were mostly targeted at HP and Sun standalone servers. But I'm mostly guessing, I'm not really sure I know the use case in UNIX versus LINUX anymore, as far as servers go. But I'm guessing it's all about the the available apps.

I knew Watson ran on POWER servers but thought it was AIX. I'm not really sure I understand why they chose to run on Linux instead of AIX? I know they are running many POWER servers for Watson, not just virtualizing a bunch of Linux machines from the same hardware. Maybe this was design to keep cost down for people they want to sell Watson to? Or was it to make Watson somewhat independent of pure IBM hardware and UNIX licensing? Very interesting.

 
Ron_Hodges
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Ron_Hodges,
User Rank: Moderator
4/18/2016 | 2:56:46 PM
Re: It's mainframe apps and languages that are aging out...
I respectfully disagree with your fundamental premise, i.e., that the reliability of the mainframe has to do with just the OS.  Commodity hardware may have some of the redundant components now but still lacks a wide range of RAS features that characterize higher end RISC and mainframe platforms.  Basically, the stuff is cheap, in terms of both features and construction.

Be that as it may, it is also inaccurate to describe Linux as as workstation/single-user system.   This would be news to the high end applications running on Linux on both Intel and RISC platforms -- including IBM's Watson.  Statistics show that Linux availability on RISC and mainframe platforms approaches that of AIX and Z/OS. 

I would agree that when you are dealing with core, mission-critical systems of record, more rigor is required than light-weight systems of engagement.  But that is a process question as much or more than it is a technology question.

 
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