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Mainframe Skills are Always in Style

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:39 PM


The mainframe has been around since the 1960s, and it continues to have staying power because of its ability to be modified to support current technology. With these changes comes new training for users to become familiar with the latest in mainframe computing.

One organization offering valuable IT training is Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a trade organization founded in 1982. The company has a deep portfolio of resources when it comes to IT education, certification, advocacy and philanthropy. According to the CompTIA website, the company was founded to bring together the IT channel to create an open dialogue between IT vendors and partners. In 1992, CompTIA introduced vendor-neutral IT certifications, which are now an integral part of the benefits CompTIA members receive.

The Virtualization Factor

Virtualization is one of the ever-changing technologies that started on the mainframe. Patrick Lane, senior manager, Product Management, CompTIA, says virtualization has been used since the 1960s. Virtualization “has allowed mainframes to lead the way toward modern support of services and applications. That role cannot be challenged or dismissed.”

Lane says the mainframe is unique thanks to its ability to process each operation twice and ensure the results match before executing them. “The processing power required to achieve this level of integrity is staggering,” says Lane.

James Stanger, senior director, Product Management, CompTIA, agrees with Lane, saying that virtualization makes the mainframe a major player in the IT world. Mainframes, he says, are more than “just a vendor/accounting/amortization lock-in play.” To achieve a successful virtualized space, you must have reliable hardware, ample storage and limitless memory. Mainframes, says Stanger, offer each of those virtualization must-haves. “They’re rock-hard reliable, and have been tested for longer than most of us have been alive,” he notes.

Lane says mainframes will continue to be an alternative to servers as the IT world moves toward software-defined networks. It’s important for IT professionals, no matter how “expert” they are in the mainframe realm, to have continued training because there are always emerging trends and best practices.

Sanger says the mainframe’s support of these new technologies illustrates how flexible it is, and how important it is for all IT professionals, no matter their ages, to expand their mainframe skillsets.

The Total Solutions Field

The experts from CompTIA advise IT professionals to focus on mainframe applications versus the hardware. “Mainframe hardware is specialized, constantly under development, and pushing the limits of technology at universities, research labs and enterprises throughout the globe,” Lane says. “Mainframes are incubators for new technologies. Most people will not have the opportunity to work on a mainframe computer, but will probably access services on one during their lifetime.”

Stanger agrees, saying those who are interested in an IT career should get into the total solutions field. He suggests they learn about Linux, storage and databases. Having strong security and programming backgrounds, he says, will be extremely beneficial. Any skills an IT professional has with Java, Python or .NET could be easily transferred to the mainframe.

Since larger companies are more likely to use mainframes for their massive amount of data, both Lane and Stanger suggest IT professionals with larger companies focus more on mainframe technology. “Mainframes will continue to exist in conjunction with servers for the foreseeable future,” says Lane. “Any experiences in a large organization with critical applications, transaction processing, statistics or bulk data processing will prepare you nicely for a mainframe career.”

IT Education and Training

CompTIA offers a comprehensive suite of IT channel training, along with events and meetings, and research and market intelligence studies to help IT professionals stay in touch with the current technology trends. Channel training, which is always available, can be conducted via live face-to-face IT training or online training. Among the channel training are executive certificate programs, which offer professionals the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skillsets to reach their company’s operational goals.

Because these offerings are self-paced, busy professionals can participate no matter their schedules. After the attendees complete the course and pass the assessments, they can participate in the capstone session, which lets the participants discuss concepts from the course with their peers, and apply what was learned in real-world scenarios. These certificates were developed by leading experts in the IT industry and are delivered by authorized CompTIA faculty.

CompTIA also offers webinars, research reports and presentations, guides that include insight from industry experts and sales solution playbooks. The company’s 45- to 60-minute quick-start sessions offer a concise how-to approach for launching new business models or practices. For more information about CompTIA’s offerings, visit the company’s website.

Caroline Vitse is a freelance writer based in Rochester, Minnesota.

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