A career in mainframe may not seem like a practical possibility for many computer science graduates leaving college these days, but that’s not because they have a negative view of the industry. According to Kyle Beausoleil, it’s likely because these graduates aren’t even aware mainframes exist.
Beausoleil would know. A software engineer at Rocket Software for the past five years, he graduated from school knowing only that he wanted to find a job where he could put his math or computer science degree to good use. Mainframes weren’t on his radar at all, mostly because it’s a technology that most college students rarely hear about. That needs to change if the industry hopes to outgrow the incorrect perception that mainframes are an outdated or irrelevant technology, he said.
“The mainframe needs to be introduced as the culmination of years of experience that it is,” he told SHARE. “Getting people to talk about it as it relates to the modern world will be a momentous task as it requires all of us to change the way we ourselves perceive it.”
As part of our new blog series profiling the next generation of mainframers, we asked Kyle about his path to a career in mainframe and his vision for the future of the industry. Here’s what he had to say.
Coming out of college, what was your understanding, and perceptions of, the mainframe industry? What about your peers?
The extent of my understanding was that they were just some sort of “big computer.” I had never considered what role, if any, they played in the modern tech world. Most of my peers knew even less and couldn’t differentiate a mainframe from a noisy box.
Having worked in the industry for a few years, how have your perceptions changed?
I now understand just how integral the mainframe is to actions I take every day. I realize that I took the mainframe for granted and assumed the work it does was being done by a tremendous array of tens of thousands of servers.
What do you like most about working in mainframes?
Even more than most applications, the mainframe reinforces the classic refrain, “A computer only does what you tell it.” This provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you complete a task because you know the effort you put in all went toward accomplishing your goal. At the lowest level, you have absolute control.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the mainframe industry in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, the mainframe will need to go through a reimagining of itself to stay competitive. As long as people keep talking about the mainframe as an old, limited machine, people will keep purchasing it to do the same old tasks.
Fortunately, the biggest challenge facing the mainframe industry is also its greatest opportunity. If the entire industry embraces the mainframe as the best tool to complete modern needs and seeks out the markets that would gain the most benefit from its body of work, once again, the mainframe could become the talk of the tech world.
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