Can We Reverse This Trend?

Posted by admin on April 24, 2015 under Authorized Training Partner, Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, DB2 Education, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Migrations, Global Skills Initiative, IBM DB2 Services, IDAA, TFG Blog.

Just this week, while working to support a new customer consulting requirement, collaborating with IBM on a handful of IDAA sales opportunities, and following up on a Baltimore/Washington DB2 User Group initiative I ran into varying responses based on one similar theme:  customers are losing confidence in the long-term viability of the mainframe.

My consulting customer is looking for a skilled resources to support a DB2 for z/OS environment.  Due to the “downward pressure on rates” they want the hourly rate to be 20-25% less than they paid for a similar resource in 2012.  Of course, they tell me, they will accept someone with fewer years of experience – 3 to 5, rather than 5 to 10.  Where does one find a US citizen (a requirement) with 3 to 5 years of DB2 for z/OS experience?  With the Global Skills Initiative IBM education has dropped off dramatically.   The IBM Academic Initiative seems to have proven successful for one financial institution in the Southeast (but for no one else), and the skills shortage we’ve all been hearing about for years is being compounded by the drumbeat of Procurement teams requiring cheaper and cheaper personnel.

Our strategy sessions around IDAA prospects invariably begin with someone saying, “well, you know, XYZ Company is planning to be off the mainframe by 2017.”  Or some other year…but it’s always part of the discussion.  Apparently while people with moderate arithmetic skills can demonstrate the overall cost savings of System z, the “modernization” folks are beating us up with their messaging.  It’s tough to address the TCO challenge when the second question is, “and who will do the work?”

My local RUG agreed to sponsor college students at our meetings so that we can try to get some future graduates interested in the mainframe.  Baltimore, where I live, has many colleges and universities but thus far, in spite of my outreach, I’ve only gotten a response from one school willing to tell their students about our offer.  I can’t help but wonder if the career counselling centers haven’t been told to avoid the mainframe, too.

I am frustrated.

3 Comments so far

  1. richard buckle April 24, 2015 3:06 pm

    Having read this I have to say, it mirrors almost exactly what I hear among NonStop (nee Tandem) users. Many users say they will be off NonStop by 2020 or some similar date even as the complain about the lack of trained personnel. And yet, the rate has slowed considerably in the past couple of years as the focus of business tackles more pressing issues like security, mobility and yes, social media.

    All this leads me to speculate that posts like this will be found in numerous blogs in 2025 and even 2040 – clouds will be a host resource even as big data will just be a collection of extra data. Bottom line, innovative folks are the ones looking to better integrate what they have and who spend their time tackling new problems rather than simply going through the motions of replacing what’s already in hand.

  2. Lynne April 27, 2015 8:09 am

    Too bad more companies won’t allow telecommuting. I live in the North East and companies with mainframes have fled this area. I can’t convince my husband to move but I have 20+ years experience with DB2 and mainframes.

  3. Al DiGiovanni May 13, 2015 9:37 pm

    Frank – Been there and also tried this in NJ with no luck.

    We shall survive – The older, the smarter, and someday (hopefully soon) to reap the benefits in retirement as a consultant

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