Mainframe Scholarships Look to Fill Expanding IT Gaps
CA Technologies recently announced its first five Mainframe Academy scholarships, which will help the selected recipients enhance their mainframe programming skills. As more and more computer systems move toward a distributed architecture, IT students are woefully unprepared for managing mainframe systems, and for companies that still require these large computers, that skills gap could prove costly. A mainframe scholarship is part of a growing industry trend to address this skills gap and prepare young people for the unique challenges that mainframes pose.
The rise of distributed computing, that is, autonomous computers that coordinate through a network, has led many organizations to shift their architecture away from mainframes. This is perhaps most evident in NASA's decision earlier this year to shut down its last remaining mainframe, or the U.S. House of Representative's decision to shut down their last one in 2009. Regardless of these high-profile events, there still exists a need for mainframes in a variety of sectors.
Mainframes are extremely reliable, powerful and, most importantly, secure. In situations where a large amount of input/output from and to storage is needed, a mainframe shines. The problem now is that the people who really understand how to keep a mainframe operating are reaching retirement age, and their replacements are not ready to pick up the torch and keep the machines operating.
CA Mainframe Scholarship
To help address the growing skills gap, CA Technologies has created the CA Mainframe Academy. According to this eWeek article, the Mainframe Academy is an eight-week, vendor-neutral program designed to provide core skills that will help young technologists be ready to manage mainframe environments. The academy combines traditional classroom learning with virtual and self-paced learning, giving all types of students the opportunity to thrive.
CA Technologies recently announced the first five recipients of scholarships to the academy, which were selected by SHARE, an independent user group that focuses on mainframe and enterprise technology. Three additional scholarship recipients will be announced later this year at the SHARE conference.
The Importance of Mainframe Management
The explosion of cloud computing has led many IT leaders to write off the mainframe, but as this IT World article points out, the mainframe is suffering more from a perception problem than an ability issue. Mainframes are still competitive when it comes to price, at least once long-term IT personnel costs are factored in; they can run many modern languages outside of COBOL; they have the ability to properly balance workloads; and the lack of a need to move information continuously over a network makes securing them much easier. Most of all, the flexibility of a mainframe makes it an ideal choice when computing speed is important.
Should IT managers begin to investigate the benefits of mainframes, especially for systems that require large amounts of data reading and writing, they may like what they see, but the lack of a trained workforce could make them shy away from the technology. This is exactly the problem that SHARE and CA Technologies are trying to overcome. With more trained people in the workforce, it will not only give companies that are considering a mainframe the flexibility to do so, it will reduce the costs for companies with existing mainframes when it comes time to replace retiring experts.
The mainframe has a long way to go to climb back into the IT discussion, but with the benefits that these large machines can offer, an educated workforce will be the first major step on that journey.