Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mainframes Old and Out of Style???

Over at slashdot there is a thread titled Java Is So 90s

In this thread there is a post titled "Mainframes Old and Out of Style???"

not by a long shot.
My clients are very large financial instituions and I don't know one of them who is reducing mainframe capacity. In fact, almost all of them are increasing capacity.
Most managers find it troubling that their mainframe-centric data centers continue to be well managed, predictable facilities while their Open Systems (UNIX, Wintel, Linux) data centers are a mess. Horribly erratic power and space consumption and many other woes that make management and planning a nightmare. Blade servers have not solved these problems - in fact, they have intensified them (powering and cooling 1000+ W/sq' is much more difficult than 50-100 W/sq').

While style is subjective, age is not. There's nothing old about the new systems IBM recently announced. Also, if being in style leads to huge cost overruns or getting fired, many of might choose to be a little less stylish.

Here is what I got to say about it...

I have worked on mainframe sites that were a mess.

Things like JCL weren’t under source control. Testing was usually ad-hoc to non-existent.

It’s a matter of care/professionalism on the part of both IT & System Owners.

Been places where some of the stakeholders can't event be bothered to turn up to Planning/Information meetings. I know, I fell asleep in one once! (It was in another city & I c’ld sleep the night before.)

I’ve seen 3rd Party vendors ripping off organizations blind (for customization)!

Is your Mainframe system organized because your site is well run & professional or because it’s ‘functionally stable’, i.e. dead!

My clients are very large financial institutions

How do their market shares compare to 20 years ago. What will their market shares be in 10 years time? Are they being pecked to death by new companies running blade farms?

I wont use the name ‘Open Systems’, in this case it’s a wrong term! (When did Wintel become an open system?)

It’s not the scale of the hardware that is the issue. It’s the utility of the software. Generally the newer the software, the better its utility! It’s a matter of trade offs. When does the cost of upgrading worth the benefits of the extra utility!

These small systems run the newest software.

All things considered, I’ld rather work with more recent software. Why, one word, UTILITY. Better software tools, if used in a professional & disciplined way, led to better systems that can evolved in a more timely manner.

In a COBOL environment you are fighting the language to be disciplined and structured. The grain of the COBOL language is too course! Which would you rather Unit Test, a 30K LOC of COBOL program or a 50 LOC java method?

A quiz for you!

Question: What are the four division of the COBOL program.


A good manager make sure their staff have good tools!

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