Mainframes last longer than their programmers

Mainframe makers are worried that their machines are starting to outlive their programmers.

According to Bloomburg, IBM and CA can’t get enough baby boomers to support their still-indispensable mainframe businesses.


Most of the programmers learned their craft on x86 machines and are having to be retrained on the job. This is mostly because teaching mainframe skills is out of vogue at many universities.


Engineers who can tinker with mainframes are nearing retirement.


According to Dayton Semerjian, a senior vice-president at CA Technologies, the average age of mainframe workers is 55 to 60. Most of them are baby boomers and if the problem is not fixed the platform will retire with them.


IBM, which has 85 percent of the mainframe market just can’t afford to abandon this technology despite its age.


It found that 70 percent of its customers thought the ageing mainframe workforce “a critical pain point.”


IBM has created a curriculum designed to encourage the teaching of mainframe skills and distributed it to institutions of higher learning in 61 countries


CA has changed the look of mainframe software to make it more appealing to a generation used to the nicer looking Windows.


This is important as some companies still employ an older mainframe with a 3270 terminal emulator.


Semerjian pointed out that when “Gen Y looks at that 3270 screen and they say: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. That looks like my father’s computer… ‘I want something that’s Web 2.0, that’s graphically rich.'”