IBM just announced another, more powerful mainframe -- and there are plenty of implications for SOA and Web services.
Today Big Blue announced the 'z9,' which the vendor claims can process one billion transactions per day, more than double the number the previous biggest iron of iron, the zSeries z990, could handle. Improvements to enterprise virtualization systems were also added. (See story here on ZDNet.)
Make no mistake, systems such as these form the backbone of future SOAs. But who will be able to run these systems? Micro Focus' Mike Gilbert provided this insightful piece here at ZDNet on the looming mainframe skills shortage. Be sure to also check out this comprehensive overview from BMC's Bill Miller.
The question is, can we grow a Generation 'Z' (as in zSeries) that will be able to run these behemoths, as well as Unix and other back-end systems, and ensure the viability and scalability of future SOAs? IBM says it has 150 colleges and universities signed up to offer mainframe training -- a six-fold increase over the past year. "Students are often surprised to learn that many of the virtualization and security features that are now beginning to appear on Unix and x86 systems have been running on mainframes for many years," one IBM spokesperson said. IBM wants to double the number of participating schools by the end of the year, and produce 20,000 mainframe-literate IT professionals by 2010.
SOAs and Web services themselves require a multi-disciplinary approach to development and operations. We'll need people that can build and manage teams from across all aspects of the enterprise. Plus, we still need plenty of people that can run the back-end systems that will keep SOA running 24x7x365.
There are some that say we'll be turning over much of this work to third-party services, not to mention more data center automation. But as more business processes are aligned with service-oriented architectures, we're going to still need plenty of home-grown talent -- working behind the scenes as well out in front.