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Old 12-16-2008, 10:12 PM
 
1,453 posts, read 2,587,886 times
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I heard a lot of stuff about where mainframes are headed. One side says their going away and it's pointless to learn it. The other side says companies do what to get off mainframes, but it is going to take a long time. Meanwhile, all the mainframe experts are starting to retire leaving companies looking for people with mainframe skills. My company is looking for someone to train on their mainframe systems. Is this something worth considering, or would I just be headed to a dead end job?
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:16 PM
Status: "Oh wait, what's this?" (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,222 posts, read 18,583,289 times
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I don't know if I'd go in that direction as a career move, but then again if you're competent, you can get some pretty good money. The problem is that you'll be competing with all the old-timers that have years, or even decades, of experience.

I'd look at it if I could learn it while doing another job, but I wouldn't consider it as a career option. YMMV.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:30 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Maybe a smaller, midsized company will be using servers. Is 'server' the same as 'mainframe?'
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:33 PM
Status: "Oh wait, what's this?" (set 4 days ago)
 
Location: Tyler, TX
15,222 posts, read 18,583,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian.Pearson View Post
Is 'server' the same as 'mainframe?'
Not really.

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Old 12-16-2008, 10:39 PM
 
Location: US
1,189 posts, read 3,655,799 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swagger View Post
I don't know if I'd go in that direction as a career move, but then again if you're competent, you can get some pretty good money. The problem is that you'll be competing with all the old-timers that have years, or even decades, of experience.

I'd look at it if I could learn it while doing another job, but I wouldn't consider it as a career option. YMMV.
I like this thought...

I hear there is a ton of work out there for COBOL guys. You know...that god awful ancient language....

In my fantasy world I would learn COBOL along side python. or RPG along side java...

In reality I'll just end up being a PHB.
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Old 12-17-2008, 12:06 PM
 
28,673 posts, read 40,867,314 times
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I asked my wife. Silly, huh?

But.... She audits large corporations and converts data from their systems to use on PC's.

Most of the corps she audits have dropped mainframes. Those that still have them are keeping them as legacy systems until everything can be converted. One really large corp is not dropping mainframes, ever.

I can't tell you any names because, by law, I am not allowed to know where she is working.
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Old 12-18-2008, 02:35 AM
 
Location: USA
702 posts, read 999,619 times
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One of the mainframe dinosaurs checking in. Actually, I'm in my mid 40s and I'm one of the "younger" mainframe developers. I expect I'll be sticking with it till I retire.

swagger: that picture looks like a controller, rather than a mainframe. Probably from the late 80s or early 90s. The mainframes now look like a small closet full of blades. Something like this: IBM System z

Brill:

You are in a Catch-22 situation: you have to be in a company that has a mainframe to really learn and become very good on mainframe technologies. But you won't be hired, or even granted the necessary access to the mainframe unless you're good enough for them to hire you?!

At least with Unix or Windows distributed systems, you can learn on your own pace and resources. To learn mainframe processing, you need access to a mainframe.

To be honest with you, I love working on the mainframe. Cobol, CICS, DB2, Rexx, SAS, EasyTrieve, JCL, VSAM, DFSORT, Fileaid, Unix, etc.... Things just work. And very fast.

I'm one of those guys that "went the wrong way", going from PC programming to mainframe programming back in 1990. And it has been very rewarding. Sure, everyday, I hear that the mainframe is going away, that our jobs are going away, that I should study the newer technologies so that I don't get laid off, etc.... I've been hearing these things since 1990. But I've been too busy working to worry about it. Much as I've tried to transition over to Java or C# development, I find it difficult to leave the profitable mainframe world. I find it ironic that in some gigs, we dinosaurs have a higher hourly rate than the distributed folks because they're so many of them in the market, locally and overseas.

I've spent the last 3 years on various conversion projects, converting and upgrading "legacy systems" because they were getting bogged down or choking on the amount of data they had to process. The ironic thing here is that the "legacy systems" were client/server systems built on Powerbuilder, Delphi, VB5 and VB6. I have Cobol/DB2/CICS prorgrams written in 1990 that's still running in various companies?!.

Since the companies already had mainframe systems, they decided to hire us contractors to convert these legacy systems to Cobol/DB2/CICS/MQ. Performance improvement ranged from a minimum of 55% to 80% faster processing time. Don't even ask about a comparison on data security. Not to mention the virus/worms/spam/spyware that hit the distributed systems every year, which are virtually non-existent on mainframes.

Another way to look at it would be your perception on the global economy. Do you think the world population will continue to grow? Duh... of course. Do you think information and the need for it will continue to grow? Double duh ... Every few months, the processing power of distributed systems increase in power. But so does the mainframe.

Most big companies (say, Fortune 1000 companies) will need mainframes (note: plural) to process and store data. Contrary to some reports (most likely from distributed vendors), the mainframe is not dying. Hardly. In fact, its use is expanding. From processing power, speed, security, etc... this ain't your father's mainframe anymore. Linux and other variants of Unix already run on the mainframe, expanding its use. You want data security? Use the mainframe as your repository.

Other countries whose economies are growing are staring to need more processing power and are buying/leasing mainframes. I would say that as companies grow bigger, their data processing needs grow bigger as well. At some point, it becomes more economical to buy/lease a mainframe than to continually grow your server farms. One is not replacing the other. Rather, they will co-exist because they need to. Bottom line: as companies grow, their data processing systems will increase as well. It will grow from networked Windows PC, to Unix server farms to mainframes.

I'm not about to tell you to drop everything and go study mainframe development. I don't know how old you are or if you even have time to get up to speed in time to reap the rewards. There's a ton of stuff you would have to learn and be good at, to get a rewarding mainframe job. I'm just giving you a view from our side.

\When we "old timers" get together and talk shop, our conclusion always seems to be that most of the kids these days wouldn't be caught dead learning mainframe and cobol stuff. They want the cutting edge.

The only ones who start learning the mainframe technology are the true geeks, and ironically, those who weren't good enough for the distributed world, and ended up being thrown into the mainframe training programs to try to get a job maintaining "legacy" code. The latter are basically no threat to us experienced dinosaurs, since it will take them years.

How long do I think I can make a living on the mainframe? At least 10 to 15 more years. Gone are the days of $1200 a day billing as a contractor. (Or is it? Wishful thinking here...) However, $600 per day is still around, depending on what city you're in. With overtime, you can still do $12K a month. As more mainframers retire, those of us left may get lucky once again. Wishful thinking again.....

If you really want to be a good mainframe dude, for applications development, get good at the basics: Cobol, CICS, DB2, SQL, Rexx, SAS, EasyTrieve, JCL, VSAM, DFSORT, Fileaid, among others. Then expand to Unix/Linux, shell programming, Secure FTP, dhtml, Javascript/VBscript, Python, PHP. Maybe even C# or Java.

For mainframe systems developer: Assembler, Rexx,CICS, DFSORT, DB2, Changeman/Endevor, etc...

Or just become a certified Project Manager, and manage those whining, primadonna developers here or overseas.
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:55 AM
 
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I agree. I'm 28 and I have been a mainframe programmer since I started my career 7 years ago. I'm glad I took went this route, because being young I have the mainframe experience and learning/working with distributed technology as well. Like the previous posts, mainframe isn't going away any time soon because of the investment that larger corporations have placed on them and the ability for processing all that data. Just my opinion.
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:29 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 22,820,616 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by super_solomon View Post
I agree. I'm 28 and I have been a mainframe programmer since I started my career 7 years ago. I'm glad I took went this route, because being young I have the mainframe experience and learning/working with distributed technology as well. Like the previous posts, mainframe isn't going away any time soon because of the investment that larger corporations have placed on them and the ability for processing all that data. Just my opinion.
It's fun to play in two worlds, or more than two. In my case, most of my 21 years of mainframe experience is real-time transaction stuff in Fortran on Unisys Clearpath Dorado servers running OS2200 (descended from Sperry/UNIVAC 1108's and EXEC 8, not IBM machines), but those servers are still used fairly heavily in the airline industry where my professional focus is.

However, I also get to do C/C++ coding and shell scripting on Solaris, maintain web servers and play with CGI under Windows, and dabble here and there with Java and Eclipse. Some days I find myself doing a little of each. I wish I could combine the tools from both worlds ... each has tools and technologies that the other could learn from.

I would love to learn more about IBM's environment ... I already know REXX from my OS/2 days, and I spend 10 years using ISPF and various apps (InfoMan and ChangeMan) at a previous employer, but the only IBM mainframes we have that I know about are in the UK. I'm not.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:56 AM
 
1 posts, read 9,079 times
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Hi there,

I would like to ask which is the best way to learn Cobol, PI/I and the these things today? Is it more with Microfocus IDE (I also heard about an Eclipse plugin but didnt found it yet) - or is it still the way direct in the mainframe - creating a dataset and then writing the program in a VI like editor? I ask because I want to learn and I could have access to a Mainframe to study but I have to pay for it. So if it is just an IDE that is used today I dont need a real mainframe - what do think?
Greeting Holger
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