IT Management

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get involved with the legacy we will leave behind in the computing world. That legacy can’t be the end of an era, nor the loss of access to 80 percent of the world’s data, nor the end of a technology that has been the major contributor to prosperity of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The legacy spoken of is a human resource, and that resource is you, the aging mainframe professional. You’ve been the strength behind the platform for almost 50 years, and your time for major contributions is coming to a close. Time is your enemy, and you have one more very important project that must be accomplished before calling it a day or a career.

The project is one of education and transition—the education of a follow-on force to perform in your place and an orderly transition from you to the future mainframers of tomorrow.

Yes, over the last 10-plus years, there has been a small but steady influx of dedicated, talented professionals into our world. This has been a blessing, since we’ve done little to encourage them.

That changed when IBM announced its IBM Academic Initiative System z (www.ibm.com/university/systemz), which is designed to provide educational opportunities for young, aspiring mainframe professionals. SHARE also implemented a zNextGen project in 2005 for the next generation of mainframe professionals. This is a great cause that everyone should become aware of and consider how they can be of assistance. Visit http://znextgen. org/ for additional information.

What can you do to help attract this young talent to the mainframe profession? Please review the programs on the Websites noted and consider how you can support and enhance the effort. Yes, it’s time to get involved. We all have busy schedules, and carving out time to make a difference in this initiative just adds to your daily load, but this cause is worthy of your time. The majority of us didn’t get where we are without help from a mentor or mentors. Now it’s our turn to mentor not just an individual, but a whole generation. And yes, they will replace us.

Our success in this endeavor will be measured by how seamless the transition occurs and by the accomplishments of the next generation of mainframe professionals. Think of it as another Year 2000 opportunity. If we’re as successful as we were with Y2K (and we should be), then few will understand or realize the effort expended and the disaster avoided. Like Y2K, it’s enough that the problem was identified, knowledge was applied, and a solution was implemented in time and on time. In keeping with this initiative, WAVV and SHARE recently invited both high school and college teachers and students in the cities where their annual meetings were held to attend their conferences.

The teacher/student visit at SHARE in Orlando in February was well-attended, and everyone was very complimentary of the effort by IBM and SHARE in hosting the event. SHARE attendees were impressed by the students’ interesting and informed questions. By any measure, this event was a great success.

The IBM/WAVV college and high school event in April was the first for WAVV and was well-attended. The WAVV program included a visit to the WAVV vendor exhibit and the opportunity to sit in on WAVV education sessions. The students and teachers asked excellent questions of the vendors in the exhibit area and were treated to an in-depth view and discussion of the new System z10 server. Copies of z/Journal and Mainframe Executive were handed out and several vendors had special giveaways for the attendees. All the students and teachers in attendance were a credit to their institutions; they asked informed questions and showed a genuine interest in information on the technology.

The program was so successful that IBM, along with WAVV and SHARE, will offer the special teacher/student programs at their next conferences. Please monitor the IBM, SHARE, and WAVV Websites for information.

With IBM, SHARE, and WAVV participating in the knowledge transfer to the next generation, the program is under way. It’s now time for each of us to invest in the next generation by contributing our time, knowledge, and effort. Your assistance to local education institutions is just as important as the events we’ve discussed. And your participation through user groups, industry publications, and industry vendors also is invaluable.

Welcome to the “Mainframe Knowledge Express” project for future generations. Volunteer, participate, and help change the world with your efforts. qqParticipation in the IBM/SHARE/WAVV teacher/student visits was a personal highlight for many of us old mainframers. Here’s hoping that you, too, soon can say the same. Thanks for reading the column; see you all in the next issue.