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IBM Pledges $100 Million To Simplify Its Mainframe Offerings

Faced with a shortage of specialists to operate its large mainframe computers, IBM has announced a multi-pronged effort to simplify use of the machines by 2011.

The IBM System z Mainframe Simplification program will marshal efforts across the company in the $100 million campaign, the company said Wednesday. An important piece of the campaign will focus on training technology administrators and programmers to administer mainframe systems.

"We are filling the pipeline of new mainframe professionals through programs like our Academic Initiative, said IBM's Bernice Casey in an e-mail. "Our Simplification Initiative is going to make those new people productive quickly." Casey is a distinguished engineer and system z user experience architect at IBM.

Automating key elements of the z/OS skills is also an important component of the drive, IBM said, pointing to its IBM Health Checker for z/OS. The Health Checker, recently updated in its V1R8 release, enables the operating system to monitor itself while looking for potential problems and ways to improve its configuration. "It's a model for more automation to come," Casey said.

There are plans in the simplification campaign also to improve user interfaces and make them more modern and familiar to z Series workers. "We're told time and again that students 'get it' that the mainframe is powerful but that it's 'green screen' interface is a turn off," Casey said. "To make the mainframe competitive on into the future, we have to give it a new face.

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