One of the biggest challenges facing CIOs with mainframe environments is that of retaining the skill set necessary to maintain legacy systems. The current mainframe workforce is comprised of baby boomers that are between the ages of 50 and 68. According to Compuware, 71% of CIOs are concerned with looming shortfall in skilled mainframe knowledge workers. However, only 41% of IT executives have any plans to address these shortages.
Compuware has put together the following list of initiatives to help organizations deal with the impending skill shortages:
- Make sure that there is a clear understanding of what is running of the mainframe. This is done by getting a full inventory of mainframe data, applications, capacity, utilization and management tools.
- Build a long-term skills plan. Look at key support areas of the mainframe (operations, technical support, production control, etc.) and know which of these areas could be impacted by attrition due to retirement. Develop a timeline and skill replenishment plan to address the inevitable loss of skills.
- Keep informed on new mainframe technology. Learn about the mainframes ability to leverage new technology and efficiencies. This includes running Linux on the mainframe, the ability to run Java workloads and the mainframes ability to help with “Green IT” best practices (i.e., reduced energy and floor space consumption).
- Maintain a practical mainframe budget. Make sure that executive leaders are providing the right budgetary support for the mainframe.
- Be wary of short-term cost cutting. IT leaders should take a long-term view of the mainframe platform when considering alternative solutions. Mainframe application migrations can often appear to be cost effective in the short-term but could potentially cost more in the long run.
One way to deal with staffing shortages is to outsource the mainframe. When resources can’t be found or retained, it is often a good option.