The mainframe is not dead, long live the mainframe. Mainframe computers are as vital to the enterprise as clean air is to Millennials.
But to Millennials, born into a world of rapidly advancing technology, the world of mainframes is an echo from the distant past. So next year, and into the future, they will have to take mainframes under their wings and guide them forward.1. The Importance of Being Mainframe
Millennials will begin to understand the importance of mainframes and the systems that run on them.
Anyone who ever predicted the death of the mainframe has been proved wrong—and revealed a fundamental lack of understanding about what the mainframe is and what it does. The debut of the IBM z14 system demonstrates once again that the mainframe is the most powerful, reliable, secure, scalable and cost-efficient platform on the planet. That’s why it hosts more code and more data with greater economic value than all other platforms combined.
Millennials are missional. The best and the brightest of them won’t be lured into “temporary caretaker” positions when what they are really looking to do is change the world with code. And anyone who wants anything less than the best and the brightest running the platform on which their core systems of record run is making a big (and sadly naïve) mistake. Excellence has always been the hallmark of the mainframe—and undermining that excellence creates unacceptable risk.
- Inspiring the Baby Boomers
Millennials will inspire older generations as to the future needs of mainframe computing.
Drastic methodological differences exist between Millennials and their mainframe forbearers. Millennials are an entirely different breed of developers. They’re usually proficient in languages like Java and use integrated development interfaces (IDEs) like Eclipse. Reading obscure command lines on a green screen is counterintuitive to the program and data visualization they’re familiar with. To them, Agile development is standard and DevOps is normal for the software development lifecycle.
If mainframe shops want to advance the critical business logic on their mainframes and preserve their competitiveness, they have one choice: Innovation. As the next leaders for mainframe, Gen Xers must take on a Millennial perspective and start driving innovation based on the contemporary ideas that the generation is familiar with. To attract Millennials to the mainframe, it’s time to provide them with modern mainframe development tools like those they love to use in distributed development
- Tools of the Trade
Millennials will introduce new tools and techniques to modernize the mainframe application.
Based on the trajectory of the digital economy and the state of the mainframe workforce, it’s clear we need to discontinue the old habits of mainframe development, including slow development lifecycle processes and clunky tools like ISPF, and jump into the Agile-DevOps stream.
Today’s developers aren’t interested in using tools that are 3270-based. They want tools that run on a modern, discoverable, commonly-used interface like Eclipse and can integrate with various mainframe and non-mainframe development tools.
Integrations with other DevOps tools are necessary to inject new processes into the mainframe development environment that suit next-generation developers’ needs. This mainframe-inclusive DevOps toolchain should resemble something like this:
An Eclipse-based IDE that contains 1) a program analysis tool to visualize undocumented, old or complex mainframe programs and 2) a data editor tool to locate, visualize and edit mainframe and non-mainframe data. These tools are essential for developers to stay productive and on track during two-week sprints.
- Job Security
Millennials will grasp the idea how secure a mainframe job is.
Millennials will understand how they can make a huge impact in industries that rely on mainframe technology; and attaining a guaranteed career path is a major attraction of the specialty (not to mention the salary). Considering many Millennials are struggling to find work in their field - or to move out of their parents' house and into their own apartment - landing a role that will allow them career growth, financial stability and independence is a huge draw.
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