Monday, August 21, 2006

Mainframers Learn New Tricks

"Indeed, Geoff Smith, an IBM z/OS information strategist at the company's mainframe development lab in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., said that within 10 years, the IT industry will experience a decline in system programmer talent."

I hope the good people at IBM aren't just getting around to figuring this dynamic out. Wasn't this pretty evident, oh, back in '85 or so?

I'm not sure of the year, but I got interested in the PC phenomena with the introduction of the IBM PC/AT. So much so that I went out and borrowed money to buy one. It only took a short time to realize that PCs, in some form, were here to stay, even though I didn't buy into the concept that all programs should be running on users desktops. I could see that much about the PC was not a thing to behold. I wasn't the only one asking the question “why did they pick Intel?” Or other questions such as “why don't they have more control over Microsoft?”, “why did they do such a poor job managing OS/2?” and so on. Always one to impute undeserved intelligence to IBM management, I found the answer in Genesis, here slightly modified:

IBM came down to see the PC and the tower/laptop, which the children of Wintel built. IBM said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language (Basic); and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their operating system, that they may not understand one another’s formats.”

And so there you have it. Wintel was invented so that IBM would always have a mess to clean up, and so it has been. Now I don't think this strategy has run out of gas yet, but surely they should have come up with a viable desktop “mainframe” and continued to support it so that the sub culture of the enlightened ones could continue. With Microsoft claiming to enter the consulting business in a big way, and still pulling stunts like this, IBM in one form or another will be around a long time, and people will cling to their mainframes until the last mainframer dies.

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