Ohoh oh oh. You've got my worst topic.
> Main frames got so boring, who cares?
That was a quite illuminating article, and this 37-year-old who has worked on mainframes a good deal cares a bit
A lot of it depends on what you are calling a mainframe. I reckon the article was specifically referring to a classic IBM site. But I've worked on Tandem and Stratus systems too, which deserve the moniker of Mainframe, and I learned to program on ICL 1904s, VAX 11/780s and PDP-10s. Shall we agree that where word sizes of 31, 36, 24 or some other eccentric number are the norm, and where character sets can be based upon 6-bit bytes, or radix-50, or EBCDIC, that's all mainframeland?
As to boredom. Depends on your boredom factor. I love writing code that actually solves a problem -- you know -- often it is back-office stuff. And as a general rule I'd say a mainframe is an excellent environment in which to do it. By a problem, I am talking about things like international equity/bonds clearance, settlement and custody systems that turn over 62 trillion dollars per annum, the European airspace control system, the administration of life insurence policies for some three million customers, or a well-known company who offers almost the whole globe the
facility to use a blue plastic charge card to pay their way nearly anywhere. Nice solid mainframe solutions. If your definition of "more interesting" i.e. not "so boring" is to spend all day long patching away at rack after rack of blades running some varient of Windows, just to assure that there won't be some sort of security issue, or that the so-called TP monitor won't crumble to nowt after the first 3000 users, or the database product can actually do locking without calling on virtual memory even when there is 2GB free in physical memory, then I reckon your definition of "Interesting" owes a fair bit to Confucius. Sorry to rant
>They are really just a rack of processor cards that flash a red light when they break and you hot swap them.
Mmmm. I don't know about this. If so, channel-attachment of high-bandwidth devices, front-end controllers, Geoplex, FSIOP in the mid-range systems, proper partitioning and virtualisation, blah de blah de waffle just talk to your friendly local IBMmer -- well; if it's just a red LED, then why do we bother? That z-series architechture is a bit of genius, and it is still as valuable as ever for applications that need it. How can
a rack of Intel or Sparc servers match the I/O bandwidth of even *two* IBM z-series channels, let alone the *eight* that are offered? And after channel; well, how many gigabit Ethernet controllers is it sensible to plus into a single PCI-style bus? It doesn't scale all that well. On the other hand, I've worked on mainframe applications that support 20000 users, all day every day. The total CPU load is nugatory -- it's I/O th
at counts. The other thing is Business continuity. Mainframe offers Geoplex, where if an atom bomb falls on one data centre, the transaction rolls its way to the other on the other side of the earth, and processing continues. Came from the cold-war, and it is not something that PC type servers offer.
> There are a couple hundred "paper mills" around the country that need I/O operators Banks are desparately trying to separate themselves from paper as is the government.
I don't quite follow this.
>Software is written in boiler rooms in india.
Mainframe stuff seems to me to be less so, and I refer you to job sites like Jobserve for evidence. Plain old Windows apps often are outsourced, but because a mainframe is far more a high-value, bespoke investment, a lot of the development of software is in-house, even now. My mainframe skills are in assembly language and PL/I and there is *never* a shortage of work either here in Europe, nor in America and Canada either. (And I'd love to work in Canada one day: it seems to have a magnetism for me). A good PL/I contract attracts rates up to EUR 650 per day, and I don't think that's bad pay by anybody's standards, yanking Romex or not
And apart from that, PL/I is a language from the cosmos. No reserved words at all
Think of the badness
I've done better this last ten years precisely by *avoiding* the Windows platform and specialising on IBM, the "high-availability" arena, and unix, than I would have done by looking at the rack-mount data-farm scenario.
All usual disclaimers apply; I just expect you got annoyed with doing
//MEMEME JOB JOOLES, CLASS=X, MSGCLASS=X, REGION=4096K
and then the remaining 10 cards that are needed just to rename a file using IDCAMS processing, and after typing your SUB in the ISPF you press the F9 key in TSO to look at the SDSF thing to see if it's run or not
For any MVSish (or VM/CMS) geeks, there's a rather beautiful piece of software that creates a virtual z-series (IBM mainframe platform) upon any Windows, Linux or Mac OS X system, and its name is Hercules. It is more than strong enough to run CICS, DB2 and a nice debug/development environment, and I recommend it very highly.
Ho hum bedtime. I wish it were so easy for those poor people in New Orleans