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March 22, 2018

CIOs Facing “Do or Die” Mainframe Moment

Mainframes becoming more important, but risk of staff shortages rising.

By CBR Staff Writer

Businesses and CIOs are struggling to replace a dwindling pool of skilled mainframe workers – even as their reliance on mainframes grows amid demand from modern analytics projects, blockchain adoption and increased mobile transactions.

That’s according to a survey from Forrester Consulting, released today on behalf of Compuware. It found that 57 percent of enterprises with a mainframe currently run over half of their business-critical applications on the platform; a number set to rise to 64% by 2019.

Yet enterprises have lost 23% of their skilled mainframe workers in the last five years, and 63% of those positions have not been filled.

As Chris O’Malley, CEO of Compuware puts it: “Many enterprise CIOs are facing a do-or-die moment when it comes to the mainframe. They must quickly re-think, re-design and re-tool their approach to mainframe DevOps or face a future where they are simply too slow and inflexible to keep pace with more nimble competitors.”

CIOs Facing “Do or Die” Mainframe Moment

Businesses must be prepared for redesigning if need be.

The survey also found that 72 percent of customer-facing applications are completely or very dependent on mainframe processing, with many organizations surveyed not currently measuring velocity or efficiency key performance indicators (KPIs).

Mainframe investments, culture and management practices need to evolve significantly in light of changing market realities, the report suggests.

“Insufficient emphasis on velocity, for example, is a holdover from an earlier era that predates the demands of today’s fast-paced digital economy. Inadequate attention to efficiency likewise reflects an era when the mainframe development and quality assurance staffs were significantly larger and extraordinarily stable.”

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According to the Forrester study, “Mainframe is alive and growing at the heart of many businesses. IT decision makers cannot afford to treat their mainframe applications as static environments bound by long release cycles, nor can they fail to respond to their critical dependence on a retiring workforce. Instead, firms must implement the modern tools necessary to accelerate not only the quality, but the speed and efficiency, of their mainframe, as well as draw skilled people to work on the platform.”

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