Mainframe skills crisis addressed by CA initiative
IBM has received a boost from its long-standing management software rival CA Technologies in its efforts to counter the argument from its competitors that its mainframe is ceding ground due to an ageing skills base.
CA has launched a strategy called Mainframe 2.0 that comprises a training academy leading to certification to create a new generation of skilled administrators for IBM's zEnterprise range, and also the Mainframe Software Management (MSM) package, which will be released in November 2010 after six months' beta testing.
The latter is designed to make it easier for existing staff trained in the distributed UNIX or Linux system environments to transfer their skills more adeptly to mainframe management. The aim is to close the mainframe skills gap, according to CA's general manager David Semerjian, citing a CA survey finding that 66 per cent of IT professionals at major enterprises are still concerned about staffing.
"There is a need to sustain critical skills and establish cross-training in the workplace," says Semerjian; but it was equally important to simplify mainframe management, with Semerjian claiming that MSM drastically reduced the time it took even mainframe experts to install a test suite of CA products, while making it much easier for novices to do the job.
The new CA academies sound remarkably similar to IBM's own training initiative designed to tackle the mainframe skills issue, but Semerjian insisted it was more flexible, combining classroom work and hands-on experience, while also targeted at people already skilled in the UNIX world.
Meanwhile, nonetheless, CA is positioning MSM as being better integrated than IBM alternatives, avoiding the need for administrators to continually flip between screens as they move between tools.
CA admitted that its actions could lead to the demise not of the mainframe technology itself, but maybe of the term ‘mainframe'. This would not be welcomed by HP and Microsoft, which both have rooted mainframe migration strategies designed to exploit the lingering stigma attached to the appellations.