CIOs: "We Don't Have Enough People to Run Our Mainframes"
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 22, 2014
Micro Focus, a company that provides tools for modernizing mainframe applications to Intel-based server environments, recently released a survey that suggests that many enterprises are choosing to farm out projects related to mainframe maintenance. Many insurance carriers still rely on mainframe-based infrastructures to handle their big workloads, so outsourcing is an importance consideration for them.
Micro Focus's survey of 590 CIOs finds that 39 percent, on average choose to outsource application development and testing today. In the U.S., the number is even larger — 62 percent outsource such work.
The survey report's authors cite the rising volume of compliance details that applications need to support. It's just too much for CIOs and their staffs to keep up with.
Another concern is the increasing lack of mainframe and large systems development and operations skills on today's scene. As the survey finds, “more than half of IT leaders (55 percent) say that it is highly likely or certain that the original knowledge of their mainframe applications and supporting data structure is no longer in the organization” In addition, 44 percent of CIOs confirm they lack the capability to do application compliance change work in-house.
While the Micro Focus survey centers on CIOs across all industry sectors, it's not a far leap to imagine the challenge many insurance industry CIOs face in keeping their legacy systems going. They may choose to migrate to Intel-based servers or the cloud to alleviate dependence on mainframes, but the fact of the matter is they still need to keep things going until all migrations are complete.
IBM, now the sole mainframe manufacturer, has recognized this issue for some time, and has been partnering with universities, colleges, tech schools and even high schools around the world in efforts to nurture a new generation of IT professionals with mainframe skills.
As Micro Focus suggests, more CIOs will increasingly need to turn to outsourcers to handle the challenges of mainframe workloads. Of course, you have to wonder where the outsourcers are getting their mainframe-trained people.
Insurers will need to put precious recruiting and training dollars into finding and keeping IT staff skilled in digital enterprise development — cloud, mobile, big data analytics and so forth. It's going to be tough enough competing for this talent in the years ahead.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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