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Is anyone here involved still in mainframe?

Hello.  I'm looking at graduating in less than a year from a school that emphasises mainframe programming in its education instead of web based.  Is there anyone on this board that is involved in mainframe work still?  What are your opinions on the future of the mainframe?  I know there are lots of other sites that go into detail on this, but I've seen some good discussion raised on this board before, and i'd like to hear what you think.  So far i've heard roughly the same amount of both pessimistic and optimistic views. 

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Where I used to work they were getting away from mainframes, and actually had a project to mount smaller linux servers within the mainframe (I don't know too much about mainframes, so forgive me if my lingo is off).

General consensus was this was silly and it was the mainframe guys justifying their existance.
Sunday, June 8, 2003

Are you talking about using Linux clusters to simulate a mainframe environment, or using setting up a set of virtual Linux machines on a mainframe.

Both have their reasons.

The reason for the latter is to provide mainframe reliability and interconnection speed to projects such as web servers that require x86 architecture.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, June 8, 2003

> a set of virtual Linux machines on a mainframe
Sunday, June 8, 2003

Considering that every other server in the place was Solaris, it seemed strange to me to run Linux on a mainframe of all things.
Sunday, June 8, 2003

I was a on a mainframe migration/integration project for quite a while. I came away with the perception that a mainframe programmer is the stereotypical maintenance programmer. There might be big iron guys that can do some good work but I have only seen the system maintainer type.

Of course, if you are learning how to integrate mainframe systems with newer systems then that seems interesting and has growth potential. 

Sunday, June 8, 2003

What do you mean by mainframe programming?  If you mean COBOL programming, then it's fairly limiting in my experience.  Not that there isn't work out there, but it doesn't pay as well and is mostly maintaining legacy systems.

If you just mean mainframe as the deployment environment, then it's becomming more and more like unix machines.  My current project is deploying to a OS/390.  However, it's a web project using WebSphere. 

Anyways, IBM has Linux ported to the S/390 hardware so that's what the future is likely to be like in the IBM mainframe world.  Currently it has something called Unix System Services which is basically Unix running as a virtual machine.


Sunday, June 8, 2003

My advice is to ask your question on web sites where mainframe programmers hang out.

One place to checkout is the Yahoo! Financial message boards. For example, you could post a message on some of the large consulting firm message boards:

Electronic Data Systems - EDS
Keane, Inc. - KEA
Accenture - ACN
Computer Sciences Corporation - CSC

I used to be a mainframe programmer/analyst and I left that world behind several years ago because it was limiting my career options.  Also, I was pissed off that lots of companies were hiring college graduates with no work experience and some of them were making just as much (if not more) money as I was (someone who had several years of real world experience under his belt).

Btw, I still receive emails and phone calls from recruiters who are looking for mainframe developers.  I always respond with, "Thanks, but I am not interested".

One Programmer's Opinion
Sunday, June 8, 2003

I'm a recent college graduate doing Cobol programming (along with DB2, SQL Server, Oracle et al).  From what I've been hearing from our instructors, mainframes aren't going anywhere (IBM just rolled out a new version of their iron). 

Mainframe programmers themselves are in high demand (search Slashdot for an article about a month ago), and programmers who can operate on mainframes are likely to be in increasing demand in the next ten years as older programmers retire or move on to management.

Companies with sizable mainframe operations include payroll companies, healthcare companies, and the US Government.  Washington DC has the highest concentration of DB2 licenses IIRC.

And of course, much of the skills on the mainframe don't translate directly to client/server or pcs, but a lot of it lets you see the WHY behind a lot of the operations, and nothing will help you see the business better than a mainframe.

Monday, June 9, 2003

Do you guys still do any assembler coding?

Monday, June 9, 2003


In the last two days we have been setting up an IBM X-Series Server which has been customized by a company called T3 Technoligies in Florida.  They take a Server with Suse Linux and add their software on top of that called Flex-ES which simulates a virtual Mainframe environment.

We are moving from an 800 Pound Mainframe to a 75 pound Server.  The interesting part is one will run just as well as the other.  According to the System Integrator, there are about 500 of these systems up and running at the present time.

As jobs go, I think mainframe positions are becoming a little fewer.  Still there are some companies that still keep their mainframes.  When it comes to massive processing of DATA, the mainframe is still king.

We plan to develop a new database system over the next 2 to 3 years for the Community College where I work using software and an application server designed by a company called Datatel, so soon we will no longer use the mainframe as a development platform.

Charles Hammond
Friday, June 11, 2004

  Having just "retired" from the Mainframe world (almost 40 years), I have always been amused by all the "conversion" and "migration" talk. Most LARGE corporations continue to maintain mission-critical data on the Mainframe - for good reason. It is a stable and mature platform that is upgradable and maintainable. For example, all those sites that go "offline" every night to upgrade and update ain't Mainframes. Re-entrant code vs. RAID disk, memory management vs. system halts, centralized data vs. distributed databases, virus-free vs. virus-ridden - I don't see the advantage (other than hardware-cost). You get what you pay for.
  I have seen plenty of CIO's and their companies fail because of an ill-advised attempt to fix what wasn't broke. It's unfortunate that many who make those decisions are non-technical and think that a few cheap PCs from Radio-Shack will save them million$.
  Good luck with your career. I'll bet Microsoft .Net will have more of a future than UNIX, LINUX, or that SUN stuff.

Former Burroughs/Unisys guru

Walt Brier
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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