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How are we supposed to learn new things?

 
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superk

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:16 am    Post subject: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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Sorry, this is a bit of a rant ... icon_evil.gif

It's been really slow around here lately. There's not much project work going on, not much being talked about, not much information coming down from the top. If things don't pick up I don't see any way that there will not be massive layoffs again this year.

Anyway, to keep busy and productive, when I'm not on this forum, I've been trying to come up with some ideas for self-learning that I hope might prove useful within our environment. I've been working a lot since last year with Oracle using their SQL*Plus tool to retrieve data from some of our management databases and to generate detailed reports, in all sorts of different formats, as needed. Oracle is our Corporate standard database. I though that maybe I could look to enhance my knowledge of Oracle by writing a prototype application that would run as an ISPF Dialog, directly accessing data fom the relevant Oracle databases from an API rather than as a SQL query.

I sent an email to the Oracle DBA team to ask what was available to me on z/OS for developing this application. The response I got back was that Oracle was not going to continue to provide development and support for z/OS, and that they would rather I use a Unix/Linux platform to do this work on.

Great!

The only non-production Unix I have have access to is on the z/OS machines, and even then it's limited. There are no "learning" or "test" Unix/Linux boxes here, at least none that are open to the general IT population for this sort of use. Anyone around here who DOES do this sort of work has a set of specialized (i.e. read "expensive") development tools that I don't and never will.
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Bill O'Boyle

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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Kevin,

I believe they're letting all the "seasoned" folks shrivel up and rot, to justify moving onto newer technologies and the usage of more "Java" kiddies.

We're doomed when the COO/CTO (who probably grew up without Mainframe exposure) buys into the old "Legacy Systems are Dead" nonsense.

I hear you all too clear and I feel like a US Steelworker in the late 1970's.

IBM is playing both sides of the equation.

FWIW, the NYSE moved off of Mainframes and onto Unix boxes about 16 months ago. That was huge....

Regards,

Bill
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superk

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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To be honest, I've always tried to steer my career path in a way that was mostly platform agnostic. That's why I stayed on the middleware/system support path instead of doing the application development stuff. I've had varying degrees of success over the years. I personally feel much more comfortable working in the Windows realm than Unix (the various flavors and not having any GUI, even a rudimentary one, kills me), but I also realize that that's not where most large enterprise shops are going.
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dick scherrer

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:13 am    Post subject:
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Quote:
. . .than Unix (the various flavors and not having any GUI, even a rudimentary one,. . .
What? You weren't/aren't completely won over by X-Windows. . . heh heh heh. . .

Quote:
There's not much project work going on, not much being talked about, not much information coming down from the top.
Many, many places. . . I haven't heard of any really big new systems being started (on any platform) for a very long time.

When the y2k "situation" took over so much of the IT resources, most places i talked with had "big plans" for the time after y2k. Somehow, after y2k, these big plans seemed to fade.
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superk

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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Our big thing these days is ITIL. Virtualization of servers. Creating the Configuration Management Database. Creating a MOM (Monitor Of Monitors) and consolidating all alerts and messages to a single console. Proactive system and application testing. Tying the enterprise together as a single entity to the applications, so the impact of changes and outages can be more readily tied into the impact they have on all of our critical apps.

The sad thing is, it's all of those "servers" and their applications that are forcing these projects. Both of our Datacenters are near capacity. I noticed when I was out there about a week ago that the newer Z10 system doesn't take up much more room than the older Z9 system next to it, and if I recall reading it actually uses less power and requires less cooling.
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mikelee

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Joined: 02 Mar 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:20 am    Post subject: I don't understand what I am seeing/hearing on MF's.
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The consulting company I work for is doing an assessment capacity and performance study for an organization with a z9 and z10. They had another large consulting company do a transaction study recently and the conclusion was that the organization's mainframes were responsible for 68% of this organizations IT transactions (including almost all of what was classed as their critical transactions) but was using about 12% of this orgs IT budget. Management was not happy to hear those facts but they aren't MF people, yet even this group of management wants more out of their MF's (and that's part of my job - to recommend what can be done to improve thruput) even as they try to pretend that the MF's either don't really exist or (better still) are on their way out.
I am hearing that they have a difficult time recruiting (and retaining) MF professionals but their payscales throw the MF'ers into the same pay class as Windows personnel. Is that a normal IT practice now?
Anyway, I guess I don't really understand what I am seeing at this organization, but denial seems to be a big factor?
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mtaylor

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:19 am    Post subject:
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My feeling is that anyone doing mainframes in the US has very few years left before all the jobs go over seas. I never thought I'd see my former employer, who has one of the largest data centers in the country (so we were told), and who had never had a layoff, do layoffs this year.

I knew the jigg was up a few years ago when a VP announced the off shoring strategy with the goal of replacing 10% of US developers by attrition/retirement. The next year it was 20%. That's when I started planning my exit strategy. I'd suggest everyone do the same.
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dick scherrer

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:30 am    Post subject:
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Hello,

Quote:
My feeling is that anyone doing mainframes in the US has very few years left before all the jobs go over seas.
Possibly, but maybe not . . .

One reason this is happening is that the fools that make many of the decisions are only as good as the last sales pitch they heard and spearheaded the "let's all go to Windows" charge. Regardless of whether that environment was actually ready to absorb corporate America. The promise of everything costing only fractions of their then current IT expenditures far outweighed that they should have known better. Most places have found out that it is not only not cheaper, but is often much more expensive.

There were also those who (thanks to the speed if throwing big things together in Windows - even though much was not working) who build all kinds of turn-key appliations and development tools and they made very few sales to mainframe IT organizatons. So they needed to "move" things. . .

Not so long ago, many colleges and universities in the US taught mainframe programming, database, jcl, etc. Now the biggest concentration of training for beginners is elsewhere. Which means the largest amount of new people is elsewhere. . .

Many of the organizations that i've worked with or have contact with are not at all satisfied with how things are going contracting everything out. Several have changed directions completely and others are taking a more "middle of the road" approach for now. If everything had worked as well as before and was extremely less expensive, they would have been satisfied. What they have experienced is that things are not working as well and their $ expectations have been far below the actual cost (gee, kinda like going to Windows to save $).

I periodically scan some of the technical job sites and 5 minutes ago this is what i got looking for COBOL jobs on my first try:
Search - cobol . . . . Jobs 1 to 10 of 3,687

My expectation that many people who want to remain working on a mainframe will be able to do so. I also expect that as the current batch of us old-timers move on, there will be more opportunity. I just don't know where the qualified people will come from. And that is rather scary.

d
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superk

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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Our #1 major headache is our corporate website. Has been for as long as the seven years I've been working here (our latest CTO/CIO just resigned. That's two that I've outlasted. But I digress ...). The problems always seem to point to the same issues - lack of capacity during peak hours, a horrible mish-mash of servers and platforms on the backend, and a lack of cohesive documentation for the whole application.

The complaints I hear all the time are about the lack of documentation, the lack of appropriate testing, the lack of proper change control (foreign concepts to a mainfraimer).

The suggestion has been made time and time again that they consider a migration of this app to z/OS but no one's listening. Our mainframe support team has all but given up on ever being asked for their input or their thoughts on process improvement.
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superk

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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You know, the thing is, I constantly see forums where there are recent IT graduates looking for jobs and not finding any. But they also seem unable to find those entry-level positions that at least allow them to get "in the door" where they can work on learning the company and the environment and slowly prove their capability and worth to the IT teams.

If someone were to ask me today if they should spend a whole s%%tload of money on an IT or CS degree I'd have to honestly tell them that they should consider some other career path, or to at least make sure that they won't need a really decent starting salary for a long time to come.

IBM just layed-off what, 1200 people from the Raleigh, NC Global Services Center? There seems to be no end to the permanent loss of IT talent.
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Akatsukami

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Reply to: How are we supposed to learn new things?
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superk wrote:
The complaints I hear all the time are about the lack of documentation, the lack of appropriate testing, the lack of proper change control (foreign concepts to a mainfraimer).

I strenuously disagree.

In my professional opinion, we pretty much had all these things and others that may be summed up as "project management" nailed down by the early 1990s; if project management was not a science, it was yet a discipline.

Then two very bad things happened. One was the Y2K panic; standards were loosened in hope of getting all the work done by 31 December 1999. The other, much more pernicious thing was the rise of "agile" development methodologies, which amounted to throwing away the previous few decades' experience and going back to the chaos of the 1960s and 1970s, when cost overruns were a fact of life, schedules were a joke, and users were routinely disappointed because neither they nor the developers ever knew what was expected.

When anyone in the software development community who proposes agile project management is routinely fired and blacklisted without appeal, we'll see some order come back to the IT world.
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dick scherrer

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:26 pm    Post subject:
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SuperK wrote:
The complaints I hear all the time are about the lack of documentation, the lack of appropriate testing, the lack of proper change control (foreign concepts to a mainfraimer).
Akatsukami wrote:
I strenuously disagree.
Actually, i believe the "disagree" is a missed communication. . . I believe Kevin's point was that these lacks are foreign to the maniframe as on the mainframe we have multiple decades of learning how to create/maintain an IT infrastructure. Pretty much all missing from the "agile" world.

My VP at a chemical company once said that we'd all better be ready to deploy 100-item "things" of which only 10 or 20 items actually worked right rather than take the proper time to thoroughly test and have almost everything work right. His take was that glitz was going to outweigh quality and that time spent building a proper infrastructure would fall by the wayside. I must say - he was pretty accurate. . . Bummer.

d
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PeterHolland

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:36 pm    Post subject:
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dick scherrer wrote:
My VP at a chemical company once said that we'd all better be ready to deploy 100-item "things" of which only 10 or 20 items actually worked right rather than take the proper time to thoroughly test and have almost everything work right. His take was that glitz was going to outweigh quality and that time spent building a proper infrastructure would fall by the wayside. I must say - he was pretty accurate. . . Bummer.


They (the managers) called that TTM (Time To Market).
But then those guys didnt know sh**t about IT. Just wanted to make
money with products nobody believed in.
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Anuj Dhawan

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:45 pm    Post subject:
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Quote:
My feeling is that anyone doing mainframes in the US has very few years left before all the jobs go over seas.
If that's the situation then why most of the IT engineers want to get H1 Visa to go to US, I wonder?
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Pete Wilson

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:39 pm    Post subject:
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Dick - it has certainly been the case that the 'agile' type approach where the 80/20 'good/bad' type rule applies has proliferated. Basically people can't be bothered being thorough anymore, or the business demands make it impossible within the time made available to deliver it. It might be bearable if there was a commitment to revist and improve the 20% bad after the implementation but no, everyones is moved on to the next thing.

What it means is you get an accumulating pile of 'shite' that doesn't get fixed because it quickly becomes to expensive to deal with and no-one wants to own it . The business would have found another 'latest and greatest' idea that must be done, again on the 80/20 rule. The pile grows higher.

So, the 20% 'cr*p' is increasingly wasting resources on an accumulatiing basis and competing with the 'good'. Not just from bad code wasting CPU/DASD etc, but support to fix an increasing percentage if failures.

And then Management will get all uppity because costs are increasing and service declining. Lots of people get dragged into analysing the pile of 'shite', find lots of maggots and lumpy bits! Minimum is done to fix the underlying problems, perhaps 1% of the 20% of 'bad'. But management are happy as their bonuses are no longer at risk. Everyone moves on...sigh.
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