Mainframer Retirement Planning: Pass the Torch with Automation
Mainframers are passionate about the platform, and it’s easy to see why. For many, their expertise came over long years of hard work. They created their own tools, finessed the system to work the way they wanted—all the while listening to the naysayers’ near-constant predictions of the mainframe’s inevitable demise.
And their work wasn’t for naught. Over the years, mainframe hardware and software has evolved to meet business needs and support significant challenges such as mobile, cloud, Big Data and more. Vendors like Compuware now offer enabling technology to remove both the burden of creating and maintaining custom tools and the shackles of monolithic toolsets.
The mainframe is alive and well—a fact we take great pride in—which makes thinking about mainframer retirement planning a little frightening. Without expert mainframe Dev and Ops people around, who will support, maintain and promote the platform?
Looking to the Future
The rumored death of the platform has caused the next generation to steer clear. It’s always easier and more attractive to go with what’s new, what’s exciting, what’s on the cutting edge. Because of this, there’s limited training available. When your college or institute doesn’t even offer a mainframe or COBOL subject in their course catalog, it’s easy to see the topic as irrelevant.
Despite millennials’ easy confidence with IT earned from a lifetime of access to the Internet, mainframes seem obscure, complicated and nothing like the tablets and phones they know so well. The learning curve is steep. To make it even more difficult, those who actually manage to find mainframe training and take that first entry-level job are often greeted by veteran sysprogs who promote the idea it takes 20 years to be any good at what they do. That’s just plain discouraging, and isn’t true anymore thanks to new processes and tools.
And let’s not forget that, despite the increasing relevancy of the mainframe, naysayers are still a dime a dozen. For every passionate mainframer a millennial meets, there could be several distributed systems bigots telling them to steer clear—advice many millennials will heed.
Despite all these challenges facing the prolonged existence of the mainframe, the opportunities to maintain its pace of evolution are there—and they are enormous. With fewer people checking out the field and a strong demand fueled by retirement, the job potential is huge. Yes, the learning curve will be challenging at times—but what if it didn’t have to be as challenging as it currently is?
A Mainframer Retirement Planning Strategy
What if veteran sysprogs could ease the journey for millennials? How about embracing technology that makes it easier for new people to come up to speed rapidly?
The reality is, no matter how well your JCL is written or how slick your REXX programs might be, in the end, you won’t be there to enhance them, maintain them and keep up with changes to z/OS. Rather than spend your waning career years trying to impart decades of experience onto someone new, what if you championed automation? Imagine how much easier it would be to say goodbye, knowing that the next generation could effectively do the job and continue the journey.
Take a few moments to consider the areas of your job that would be better automated. What are the things you don’t like to do, that require that you be available 24/7, but have become so complex you can’t really sort them out anymore? How easy would it be to simply train someone on the software, rather than unload all your core mainframe knowledge?
Compuware solutions answer many of these challenges, a list on which batch management is likely near the top. Even the most dedicated do-it-yourself-er can see the benefits of using a job scheduling solution for batch management. You probably already have some automation around operations—go further.
Compuware ThruPut Manager automates almost everything you need to manage batch. Everything you offload is one less thing you will worry about after you retire. Smart automation has to be in your succession planning playbook. Invest in it.