Out of Sight But Not Out of Mind: Why We Doubled-Down Our Investment in Mainframe

April 29, 2021

The longer something works without failing, the easier it becomes to take for granted. 

This is certainly true of the industry I work in: mainframe computing. Many large organizations – companies and governments – are quick to overlook this MVP-worthy system standing in the back of their data center despite an unmatched track record of delivering heroic performance over decades of daily, all-hours work to protect, rapidly process, and underwrite an increasingly digital world. Mainframe may not have superstar visibility in your IT lineup. In fact, most consumers and citizens have no idea just how much this machine powers their mobile, cloud-filled lives. But when it comes to performance, like Tom Brady taking the field, it stands in the pocket and delivers time after time. Mr. Brady has had his share of close-ups and highlight reels. Maybe it’s time to give the mainframe a little more loving focus of its own. It's really a technological marvel. 

Those that work with mainframes are often asked to treat it like a utility—as something that you continually look for ways to reduce the cost of. Not long ago, my team at Broadcom saw another path and “doubled down” on our investment in mainframes and our customers. We did this not only to increase the rate and pace of innovation, but to reinvigorate the mainframe as vital technology that is so much more than just a reliable online utility. We also looked at ways to help overcome the barriers that too often prevent mainframe users from truly getting the most from the platform.

From that experience, this is what we discovered:

  1. Filling the knowledge gap is top priority. “The companies that still use mainframes are desperate for anybody that knows anything about them because so few students coming out of college know anything,” says Charles Wiseman, director of computer science at the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. To that end, Broadcom recently launched the Vitality Program to hire engineers, train them on mainframe, and then place them on our dime at a customer site for a full year. The more you know about a technology, the more you can do with it. 
  2. Technology is not a significant barrier. In addition to the skills shortage, the vast majority of mainframe organizations struggle in two other areas. First, their current processes for mainframe don’t allow for innovative use. Second, there is the internal belief that mainframes are just a necessary line item that keeps the company running, as opposed to something that can be used to help grow revenue. 

Last year during pandemic, mainframes processed a record amount of transactions as seemingly overnight the world adopted work-from-home arrangements and unprecedented levels of mobile traffic. Those volumes have continued into this year. Consequently, many customers are asking us to help them overcome not only the mainframe skills shortage through our Vitality Program, but to also help them meet rising demand for mainframe volumes. 

For example, one large government customer recently tapped us to help systematize an unprecedented number of electronic stimulus checks in a short period of time. Another took advantage of several of our educational tools during lockdown to quickly onboard a new administrator. Without our previous investments in mainframe, neither of these success stories would have been possible. 

Since Broadcom first acquired CA Inc. two years ago, we’ve hired over 100 mainframe developers each year. To keep up with growth, this year alone we’ll stay on pace and hire over a hundred more. That sizable investment in people, in addition to new technology and support programs, has allowed us to amplify the value organizations can get from this important but often unsung technology. 

In addition to the Vitality Program, our ongoing investments have led to our industry leading, free online training for customers (aka No Cost Web Training), our free migration program dubbed Win No Fee, and our Mainframe Academy to teach core programming skills. Our investments have also resulted in our Open Mainframe Architecture for greater integration with Git and Open Source tools, MRI Scans to help diagnose mainframe threats and opportunities, and other educational programs, including Innovation World Tours, Technical Exchanges, and our Mainframe Insights for Senior Leadership.

We are excited about the future of this remarkable platform and all the incredible value it can deliver. We look forward to helping our customers get the most from the programs we offer and are honored to see some of the big things they are already doing with them. As you build your tomorrow, use these empowering tools to pave the way. Our teams at Broadcom will be there for you as a strategic partner. 

Tag(s): Mainframe

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