CIOs scared mainframe skills shortage will hurt their business

The looming skills shortage of mainframe developers continues to be a serious concern for CIOs, who remain uneasy about their ability to effectively support new applications and meet the fast changing needs of the business. This according to a global CIO survey, released today by Compuware, investigating the use of the mainframe within the enterprise.

Despite this fact, there has been little advancement in the number of companies that have created a formal plan to handle these risks, when compared to Compuware’s 2011 study.

The survey found that even as new technology platforms such as the cloud battle to claim their stake in the enterprise, the majority of CIOs (81%) still believe that the mainframe will remain a key business asset over the next decade.

However, while the mainframe is still as relevant as ever, 66% of CIOs said they fear that the impending retirement of the mainframe workforce will hurt their business by reducing their ability to support legacy applications.

Concerns relating to the looming skills shortage have remained constant: increased application risk (61%), reduced productivity (61%), and an increase in project overruns (56%) topped their list of concerns. Despite these fears, little progress had been made to smooth the transition.

Almost half (40%) of CIOs still had no formal plans in place for dealing with the key risks associated with a mainframe skills shortage. Organisations had only made a slight improvement in their preparation levels since 2011, when 46% of CIOs admitted they were ill prepared for a developer shortage.

>See also: Lack of resources forces a third of North West digital firms to refuse work

“Mainframe applications have been updated and extended numerous times over the past 30 years, making them extremely complex to manage,” said Kris Manery, senior VP and GM, mainframe solutions business unit, Compuware.

“While experienced mainframe developers are familiar with these systems, newer developers can take up to two years to get up-to-speed. As more experienced mainframe workers approach retirement age, businesses need to act quickly to address this pending skills shortage and make concrete plans for a pain free transition.”

According to an earlier study looking at how the mainframe is being used, the majority of CIOs (89%) said that it is now running an increased number of new and different workloads than it did five years ago.

Although there have always been high expectations on the performance of the mainframe, the result is that 91% of CIOs believed this pressure has increased now that the mainframe is becoming more involved in delivering customer-facing applications.

In the face of these rising expectations, Compuware’s latest research found that 55% of CIOs claimed their mainframe teams are finding it difficult to keep up with the fast changing demands of the business. Again, this figure was largely unchanged since the 2011 study (56%).

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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