The mainframe remains very much alive, despite efforts of personal computing advocates to forecast the date of its final unplugging. CA Technologies is increasing its portfolio of mainframe products and announced Tuesday the latest round will make the mainframe easier to use.
The mainframe of the future will be managed with more visual tools sensitive to the role of the manager, unlike those available today, said Dayton Semerjian, senior VP and general manager of CA's mainframe business unit. He announced a beta version of CA Mainframe Chorus as such a tool, one that can simplify mainframe management, at CA World 2010 in Las Vegas Tuesday.
Instead of relying on arcane 3270 green screens littered with blocs of data, CA Mainframe Chorus calls on the user to select a role, such as storage manager or DB2 database administrator, then presents him with modules of information related to the role. The problem with the green screen approach, said Semerjian, is that the data on mainframe operations found on them is undecipherable to the uninitiated. "The mainframe environment is a huge challenge to master," he said. There's no training class or "idiots" book available to teach novices. Gaining mainframe management knowledge amounts to "essentially an apprenticeship over many years," he added.
The graduates of computer science schools who became mainframe specialists are now retiring. Unless a new generation of management tools encapsulated some of their knowledge is created, much of that expertise will disappear with its practitioners.
Mainframe Chorus is initially available in beta form and in a "MyWorkspace" format easily recognized by the Facebook and MySpace generation. "The 'net generation won't open a manual. They turn things on and want intuitive, collaborative management," Semerjian noted.