Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why should young IT professionals start their career on Mainframe?

If you just finished university with a degree in Computer Sciences, you are probably looking for a job… and if you are reading this article, you are probably still searching. Although you might not even know what a Mainframe is, you might want to consider a career on the “big iron”; and here is why.

The mainframe is a 40+ years old platform and most software are written in low-level languages such as assembler or Cobol. Granted. As much as it appears non-attractive, it is a real opportunity: while most of the world data and processing resides in Mainframes, Mainframe professionals (so called “Mainframers”) are close to retirement. The equation is simple, IT talents with such knowledge will be rarity in the very near future, and biggest fortune companies will crave for them.

But … do not think mainframe is solely legacy. In fact, lots of new projects exist on Mainframe, most of which use Java, C, or C++. The new trend of “virtualization” is a notion which exists since decades in the Mainframe world. If you think about it, Mainframe systems are nothing else than a private cloud: Mainframe means enormous amount of data, incredible processing capabilities, and very high security (who even ever spoke about a virus on Mainframe?). Mainframe also rimes with green computing, since it uses much less energy than other platforms, because 1 Mainframe can support a workload equivalent to thousands of distributed servers.

In a few words, it is cool to work on Mainframe!



  1. Part of Para 1 is incorrect as I have read after working for a period of 30 years on mainframes. Rest is just cool truth

  2. I took a class called mainframe operations and before that I never knew what a mainframe was or how it worked. After taking the class my eyes were opened to a entire new world. I am familiar with the emulator vistaTN3270, cobol, jcl, DB2, z/OS, TSO and ISPF. I attended NC A&T State University majoring in electronics, computer & information technology. Currently I attend everest online university majoring in computer information science. I am a highly motivated student seeking an entry-level position working with mainframes. Any help?

  3. Hi Marcus, thanks for your comment. I certainly do have some tips: I just sent you an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

  4. Markus,
    You never mentioned where you are located geographically. Also it is hard for people to judge your skill sets when you say that you are "familiar" in the areas you mentioned. Please don't take this the wrong way, I am not trying to discourage you but anyone wanting to "take a look at you" is going to want to know these things. Better to let them know as opposed to being passed up simply because they may not bother asking. When I was in school (a long time ago), I interned for the federal government as a PL/1 programmer and worked at the university computing center as a programmer (COBOL, PL/1, Fortran) and a student consultant. This helped to hone my skills but the pay was low. When I finally graduated, the experience helped a lot as far as being able to put a work history down on a resume and having references. Sort of like "putting your dues in".

    Can you be more specific as to what you disagree with in paragraph 1? (This is my 34th year doing mainframe systems technical support.)

    These days I have responsibility for:

    1. Sysplex tuning
    2. DB2 Z/OS systems programming and all the associated software support (DB2 Connnect,
    CA DB2 tools, BMC DB2 Tools, Omegamon for DB2 Monitor etc.)
    3. RACF/Vanguard Tools (Systems Security)
    4. HCD (I/O Definitions - hardware configuration support)
    5. HMC/SE (Hardware Management Console support)
    6. System Disaster Recovery support

    I feel like I am constantly running from one fire to another, we are definitely short handed and we are having a hard time finding qualified people. Most younger people say that it isn't as interesting as server work or it is too hard. But nothing "good" comes easy.

    Thanks everyone.