Education and System z

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-05-07 Print this article Print


Q: What is IBM doing to make sure there are enough IT pros with mainframe skills?

A: It's been said that 80 percent of the world's mission-critical data is stored on and accessed by IBM System z. We have a responsibility to ensure students around the world are being educated on System z servers. The System z Academic Initiative Program has added hundreds of schools offering System z course work. More than 50,000 students have been educated on the mainframe. Approximately 550 schools worldwide have now joined IBM to offer course work on the IBM System z enterprise servers. Around the world, more than 1,000 students from Brazil, United Kingdom, Australia, U.S., Canada and China won prizes through the IBM student mainframe contests.

We feel this is important because students with z skills differentiate themselves with a level of versatility and depth that companies look for these days. Universities we work with are reporting strong job placement rates, even in this economy, for students with mainframe skills.

Q: How does System z play in IBM's "Smarter Planet" strategy?

A: The world is becoming more instrumented -- by 2010 there will be a billion transistors per human. The world is becoming more interconnected, with a trillion networked things, and it's becoming more intelligent. Powerful systems are needed for industries to analyze mountains of data and turn it into decision and action, tailored to their specific needs. System z is an important engine behind this.

System z is one important element of a dynamic infrastructure that clients want today. It provides flexibility and choice to users, the agility and responsiveness that businesses need in today's ever-changing environment, the automation and manageability required to provide the control that businesses require, and the ability to modernize mainframe assets. All of these requirements align with what System z can deliver today. As customers embrace the rapidly changing application environments of the future, they can do so knowing that Systems z's capabilities will continue to be enhanced to support their evolving needs.

The dynamic infrastructure vision and the cross-IBM solutions that support it fundamentally differentiate us from commodity hardware vendors. The competition simply does not have the leadership to help apply technology to business problems, the middleware required to enable infrastructure and applications or the breadth of server technologies to deliver a solution optimized for each client's needs.

Q: Do modern programming languages/practices translate to the mainframe?

A: The mainframe has powerful "specialty engines" known as zAAP (System z Application Assist Processor) engines dedicated to running Java and XML workloads. For organizations with legacy data, IBM offers software via EGL (enterprise generation language) for developers of any background to work on the mainframe. For example, IBM Rational software is easy to learn, hides the technical complexity of runtimes and middleware and ensures easy interoperability with legacy data. Basically, customers don't need to worry about a lot of the infrastructure if they use Rational. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel