What is the future for mainframes

Career & Salary

CW: Mr. Wiesinger, banks and other financial institutions rely on the mainframe for many business-critical processes. Will it stay that way?

WIESINGER: Yes, we don't see an alternative in the medium to long term. After all, the financial industry has made major investments in mainframe programs and applications that it hopes to continue to benefit from over the next decade. The mainframe, which has so often been declared dead, will therefore live even longer.

CW: What specific added value does the mainframe bring?

WIESINGER: Peak loads at the end of the month, quarter and year can only be managed with the mainframe. When it comes to performance, stability and high availability in transaction processing, there is no alternative to the mainframe. In addition, it offers a high level of integrated security, as it is a mature and self-contained system. Successful attacks are very unlikely here.

CW: Will the mainframe remain important in the age of online banking, web services and mobile apps?

WIESINGER: Definitely, because one doesn't rule out the other. We also use modern digital solutions such as online and mobile banking. Even so, the mainframe remains very important as a backend transaction system.

CW: Most young professionals, however, have no mainframe experience. What challenges do you see as a result of the generation change?

WIESINGER: That is certainly one of the most critical points in the mainframe at the moment. Most knowledge carriers will retire in the coming years. Schools, universities and technical colleges no longer offer special mainframe training. It is therefore very important to transfer the know-how in good time and to have sufficient staff for the future.

CW: What measures must financial institutions take to counteract this risk?

WIESINGER: Above all, you must have structured succession planning. This includes a schedule for the personnel search, familiarization times and documentation as well as corresponding software and tools for the transfer of knowledge. You have to preserve and pass on the knowledge in good time so that you are not surprised by the generation change. To this end, Compuware has developed the 'Mainframe Excellence 2025' whitepaper, which recommends measures how companies can prepare for the generation change in the mainframe and ensure the transfer of mainframe know-how.

  1. Secure mainframe know-how
    The old squad of mainframe specialists is retiring. Compuware provides tips on how companies prepare for the generation change in the mainframe.
  2. Take stock
    As a first step, Compuware recommends taking an inventory of existing mainframe data, applications, capacities, usage scenarios and management tools.
  3. Determine employee knowledge
    Furthermore, a fact-based overview of the needs for employee know-how must be created with a realistic timeline.
  4. Define mainframe functions
    Third, the current and planned mainframe functionalities must be recorded.
  5. Adjust investments
    In addition, the investments must be adjusted to secure the mainframe applications.
  6. Rethink cost cuts
    Short-term cost cuts are to be postponed if they have negative long-term consequences for mainframe use.
  7. Evaluate non-mainframe platforms
    According to Compuware, what should not be forgotten is a realistic assessment of the potential, costs and risks of non-mainframe-based platforms.

CW: How do you get in contact with young professionals?

WIESINGER: To this end, internal measures must be combined with external ones at an early stage. For example, we work with universities and schools, especially the Hagenberg University of Applied Sciences, to get graduates and interns interested in the mainframe and our company. This works through research collaborations, but also with company information days. Companies have to be known and present to young people.

CW: How can companies get young professionals excited about the mainframe?

WIESINGER: Especially with a professional perspective: system specialists and developers for the mainframe are still in demand on the market. The demand here is significantly greater than the supply. Accordingly, it is a crisis-proof and well-paid job. In addition, this mature technology is constantly developing with innovations and new features, so that it will remain in motion and exciting in the future.

CW: What opportunities are there to train young specialists for the mainframe, and what requirements do they have to meet for this?

WIESINGER: We conduct extensive further training for new employees. A large part of this is of course on-the-job training. There is also the option of using specific training offers from the manufacturers. Requirements are only certain basic knowledge and a corresponding interest, because there are no fully trained specialists for the mainframe on the market.

CW: What experiences have you had in your company with young specialists in the mainframe area?

WIESINGER: We have had very good experiences with young specialists whom we have trained ourselves. You know exactly what the mainframe does and what it doesn't. Although it does not have a modern user interface, it offers excellent development prospects.

CW: Could graphic interfaces for the mainframe make it easier to get started here?

WIESINGER: We use mainframe tools with graphical interfaces as well as the classic command lines for interfaces. After all, most professionals get used to it quickly and often find it more practical. In the beginning, you only need a certain willingness to deal with the classic surfaces. But modern administration interfaces are also increasingly finding their way into this area.

Information on the 3 Banken Group

The 3 Banken Group is an association of the independent Austrian regional banks BKS Bank AG, Oberbank and BTV. The three institutes employ a total of around 3,300 people, and the combined balance sheet total is over 24 billion euros. They have around 250 branches throughout Austria as well as branches and representative offices in Bavaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. The 3 Banken Group manages more than 1.5 million accounts of its customers. The IT service provider and data center operator, 3 Banken EDV GmbH., As one of the largest providers of bank IT in Austria, is responsible for around 6,000 workstations that initiate around ten million transactions every day. (pg)