You just can't get the staff: that's the problem with mainframes. Anyone with a weather eye on what's happening in datacentres will know that the mainframe is far from dead -- in fact, it's undergoing a mini-revival, as enterprises re-centralise their infrastructures.
If you doubt it, check the growth of virtualisation and the implications of entirely virtualised datacentres. In fact, this evolution just recreates the mainframe in a different form. Tasks that can run anywhere, that pull resources in when required, and live in hermetically sealed containers -- sound familiar? So the mainframe is back in both concept and reality.
Evidence? Late last week, CA released a survey which found that "81 percent of IT organisations in the UK believe the mainframe is an essential component of their cloud computing strategy. Over 300 IT decision makers in ten countries responded to the CA Technologies commissioned survey, 'MainframeâThe Ultimate Cloud Platform?'" And "75 percent of respondents believe that the mainframe will have a role in any cloud computing initiative, and 54 percent agreed that cloud computing will sustain or extend the mainframe environment."
Advantages of the big beast cited include its legendary reliability, followed by its ability to consolidate servers, and to be green -- you consume less power per watt or workload, and mainframes tend to run at much higher utilisation rates than servers.
But there's a problem, especially here in the UK. Skills are short, with talk of a greying IT department: "66 percent of UK organisations running on mainframe face workforce sustainability issues in keeping mission critical systems staffed -- 22 percent above the cross-country survey average."
To help alleviate the need for specialists, what CIOs want is to move away from bespoke software to off-the-shelf commercial packages, and more training, according to the survey. Naturally enough, CA's punchline to its press release on the matter is the fact that it's piloting a training initiative or "mainframe academy", designed "to provide an agile, project-based approach to accelerating, obtaining, and mastering core mainframe virtues and programming skills".
If you're interested, the Europe-wide scheme kicks off on 1 November in Stockholm.