The love affair between banks and mainframes, like all love affairs eventually do, needs some freshening up.
The biggest of the TBTF (Too Big To Fail) banks are a major recruiting presence on college campuses, according to CIO Magazine.
This is because the decline in the number of new college grads with any mainframe training has gotten the attention of (a more charitable way of saying “woken up”) execs at large financial institutions, prompting a type of foresight-fueled action for which these behemoth banks have never before been known.
Quite the opposite. In 2008, TBTF banks did everybody in the world the favor of loudly demonstrating that the underlying assumptions of “free market” capitalism were null and void; that the “most successful” of the banking sector were in fact enormous, staggering failures, and that these failures, huge as they were, carried no real consequences for the responsible parties in the corner offices.
In other words, the financial disaster of 2008 was the biggest job security story in business. By extension, plenty of that security extends to mainframe computing.
Underneath (way underneath) these failures were the mainframe shops, the engine rooms of finance. They did no failing whatsoever. High-volume, high-MIPS jobs running hard on big iron, keeping everything afloat, putting the bank’s money where it had to go. (And putting plenty of other people’s money into the bank, but that’s for another post).
The criticality of these critical applications — call them “apps” and I’ll personally come over to sock you one — are the driver for this campus recruiting effort by banks and by Big Blue and other vendors. They are simply too critical to pass along to other hardware.
And a decline in trained professionals plus a steady demand for these applications equals high demand, high pay and high job security.
That’s one reason why Kimberly Grim, SVP of Mainframe Engineering at Bank Of America calls mainframe systems “very safe”. Because especially in the case of BoA, the business itself is very safe from failure. Its critical systems therefore share that safety.
And that’s also why over 600 colleges, universities and high schools around the world are participants in IBM’s Academic Initiative. The word needs to get out about mainframes as a hedge against an uncertain technology employment world.