Organizations that run mainframe systems face an impending crisis: there simply aren’t enough qualified people left in the job market to fill key positions.  Around 60% of mainframe technology specialists are over the age of 50. Many are approaching retirement, and there’s simply no one stepping in to fill the void.

According to a 2019 study by Forrester, 64% of IT operations managers reported finding mainframe talent as a significant challenge. That was before the COVID pandemic, which prompted early retirements across a range of industries, including IT. The problem is getting worse.

The need for qualified mainframe specialists isn’t going away any time soon. In a 2020 survey conducted by BMC, over 50% of respondents said they planned to maintain or increase their mainframe operational staff. With a growing demand and a diminishing pool of qualified talent, the workforce shortage is growing more acute by the day.

To make matters worse, there’s another problem that should raise concern for IT managers: most mainframe applications were written years ago. In many cases, documentation is lacking, or it’s at least . When veteran mainframe programmers walk out the door, they take some piece of the organization’s shared institutional knowledge with them.

The best time to address the problem is before it gets even worse. Organizations should act now, proactively moving to modernize their mainframe systems. There are a range of different options available: replatforming to the cloud or on-premise systems, automated code refactoring, and replacement of ancillary applications with commercial off-the-shelf software.  

Modernization preserves your organization’s existing investments. Mainframe shops typically have complex and unique requirements. Over the years, they have built applications that deliver the exact business logic they need to run their organizations effectively. The right approach to mainframe modernization preserves those investments, minimizing risk and limiting unwarranted change.

Mainframe modernization is a significant undertaking, but automation is making the process faster and cheaper, with substantially less project risk than full on replacement.

The first step toward modernization is to perform a thorough mainframe assessment. No two mainframe environments are exactly the same and there is no silver bullet to modernize legacy systems or applications. Fortunately, a lot of mainframe customers have a solid understanding of what’s running in their environment, – but very often, there are gaps, and before you can move forward with any mainframe modernization strategy, you need to understand exactly what you’re working with.

At Astadia, we provide a FastTrack assessment process that helps customers understand where they are today, and what options they have with respect to modernization. This process has been developed along a 25-year history of migrating mainframe workloads to distributed and cloud platforms. It provides a comprehensive understanding of your current environment and identifies the best industry solution for your unique mainframe modernization journey.  

To learn more, get in touch with our mainframe modernization experts today.

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