Loss of mainframe skills represents a risk to businesses

Black and white mainframe

Mainframe systems are still essential to many organizations, but a new study reveals that as many staff with mainframe skills approach retirement almost two thirds of IT decision makers say the consequent loss of skills presents a big risk to their business.

The report from enterprise computing specialist LzLabs, based on research conducted by Vanson Bourne, shows 99 percent consider their organization's mainframe applications as important or critical to business operations, yet 93 percent also express serious concerns about the mainframe environment.


The main worry is the impending skills crisis, as respondents are seeing the specialist mainframe skills required to keep these systems running disappearing from their organizations. Of the top concerns reported by respondents two of the most pressing issues are the loss of necessary skills to support mainframe applications (49 percent) and to operate the platform itself (48 percent).

"Our findings in last year's survey highlighted the frustration IT leaders have with the cost and inflexibility of their mainframe applications," says Thilo Rockmann, chairman and COO of LzLabs. "What we are seeing in this year's is a realization that the loss of mainframe skills poses a significant threat in the coming years, and piecemeal approaches will not be enough to solve this."

Among other findings, 95 percent of IT decision makers see many advantages to moving applications off the mainframe. The ability to leverage cloud elasticity (52 percent) and greater development agility (also 52 percent) are cited as the two biggest advantages of such a move.

"The extent of the mainframe skills issue is clearly of concern; however we are encouraged to see that IT leaders are recognizing the need to take action," says Mark Cresswell, CEO of LzLabs. "These findings show that efforts to upskill existing staff, or attract new talent to legacy platforms, simply aren't enough to solve this crisis. Now is the time for organizations to move their core applications to modern, open systems and reap the benefits."

The full report is available from the Lz Labs site.

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