Are Mainframe Skills Dying Out In The UK?

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Big old tin is a useful part of a secure data centre, if you can get someone to look after it, says Computer Associates

IT departments are concerned about the amount of in-house talent they have to deal with mainframes, according to research.

A survey released by CA this week, The Mainframe: Surviving and Thriving in a Turbulent World, reveals that more than 80 percent of UK respondents were worried about mainframe skills in their company. That compared to around 66 percent for the rest of Europe.

To try and counter-act this perceived lack of skills, around 43 percent of UK respondents said they were “focusing on mainframe skills training” compared to around 33 percent of European respondents. The other tactic being used to improve mainframe skills is outsourcing which around 25 percent of UK respondents are adopting according to CA.

Despite the lack of skills in mainframe management, CA claims that the best way for companies to maximise their use of the hardware is to integrate it fully into their organisation using online tools. In the past, some companies have opted to isolate mainframes and even keep them disconnected from the web in order to minimise the chances of the system being hacked.

“For many organisations, the mainframe remains the strategic platform of choice for the next generation of enterprise computing. It is apparent that organisations using the mainframe as a fully-connected resource as part of a web-enabled enterprise experience significantly greater benefits than those with a disconnected, comparatively isolated mainframe environment,” said James O’Malley, CA’s Mainframe Sales VP for the UK and Ireland.

According to the research, 81 per cent of respondents said that “disaster recovery and emergency management are extremely efficient”,
when the mainframes are used in the kind of fully-connected way that CA advocates.

Specifically on security, the survey stated that 71 percent of organisations in the UK believe that IT infrastructure that makes plentiful use of mainframes will be more secure than the server-centric equivalent.