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Expert Interview (Part 2): iTech-Ed’s Trevor Eddolls Offers Mainframe Tips for IT Teams

In Part 1 of this two-part interview, mainframe industry guru Trevor Eddolls shared background on how he became a mainframe expert, discussed major mainframe trends, and the role mainframes can play in today’s IT infrastructures, including Cloud. In today’s Part 2, he provides mainframe tips for organizations on what they need to do to address the skills gap, to ensure their mainframes continue to serve their business needs, and what to target for the biggest opportunities for growth or improvement within organizations for managing mainframes.

What should IT workers be doing to fill knowledge gaps? Where can they get mainframe training? How can they stay up to date on mainframe tips, developments and best practices?

Mainframe staff should be sharing their knowledge of how the mainframe works with other IT colleagues and management wherever possible. They should be using company intranets to share their success stories, so that other staff can see what’s going on.

In terms of training, there are a number of mainframe training companies still in existence. Some offer classroom training with all the advantages of sharing knowledge with people from other sites and being able to talk to the trainer. While others offer distance learning, with the advantages of being able to schedule training around work and not having to travel/book hotels/meals etc. of going away.

Download eBook: Mainframe Meets Machine Learning

There are also user groups, which meet in person, and additional virtual user groups that meet online. There’s SHARE and other large conferences. There are still magazines, and there are online sites with articles and any number of mainframe-related blogs.

There are Facebook groups for IMS, CICS, etc. There are lots of mainframe-based user groups on LinkedIn. And there are plenty of people posting on Twitter about mainframes.

It really is a case of deciding how high a priority staying up to date is and assigning the appropriate amount of time to read, or listen, to new ideas and possibilities.

What should IT staffs be doing today to ensure their mainframes continue to serve their businesses needs into the future?

IT staff need to ensure that their colleagues and managers appreciate the successes of the mainframe – how many transactions are processed in a day, how many people are accessing the mainframe from portable devices, etc.

Plus, IT staff need to attend business meetings to ensure that managers understand how the mainframe team can save money for the business, while maintaining the integrity of the data. They need to get the message out there that the mainframe is flexible. It’s not fossilized into only doing what it’s always done. It can embrace new technology and new protocols.

In addition, IT staff need to make sure that they aware of new trends and technologies themselves so that they can see how those trends and technologies will benefit the company they work for. And they should be able to demonstrate to management what the benefits would be to the corporate bottom line, without any security risk to the company.

Staying up-to-date with trends, and being able to explain how they can make the business more competitive, should be part of every mainframer’s job description.

Related: 5 of the Hottest IT Trends (and How Mainframes Play a Role)

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth or improvement within organizations in how they manage mainframes? How can organizations get more out of their mainframe investment?

For organizations that haven’t looked at DevOps and Agile computing, or are unaware of the fact that RESTful protocols work with IMS and CICS, this kind of modernization will bring them the greatest advantages in terms of growth and improved service.

But doing more with the mainframe doesn’t always mean the mainframe will be more expensive to run. There is mainframe software available to make sure your four-hour rolling average MSU values don’t increase.

Related: Mainframe Optimization in 2017

Also, audit the software that is installed. It may be that some older software can be de-installed because it’s hardly used or other installed software does the same job. It may be that some software has lots of facilities and features that are never used. It may be that it could be removed and replaced with cheaper software that has only the features that are used.

What’s one piece of advice regarding mainframe management that you find yourself repeating over and over again to IT teams?

Tell the organization about what goes well. If a company has Yammer (as part of Office 365), post on that. Let everyone see how good your mainframe team is. This could be about security, or volume of data stored/accessed, or number of transactions run, or the number of end users supported. There are so many things that happen all the time.

Mainframers are working hard keeping the company in business, and all anyone cares about is some new app on their phone. Show them how mainframes can be linked to mobile devices.

Get the message out there that the mainframe is working – and your organization depends on it.

Trevor Eddolls offers a lot of great mainframe tips in this post, here’s a recap:

Based on the interview above, we pulled out 5 specific mainframe tips for IT teams, but it really boils down to two ideas. First, keep abreast of what your mainframe is doing to drive business and keep abreast of new opportunities as technology moves forward. And, just as important, share this information with leaders – particularly the mainframe’s business benefits.

5 Mainframe Tips from Trevor Eddolls for IT Teams

Five mainframe tips from Trevor Eddolls

To help you keep up with a hot mainframe trend, read our eBook, “Mainframe Meets Machine Learning,” to learn about the most difficult challenges and issues facing mainframes today, and how the benefits of machine learning could help alleviate some of these issues.


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