During mid-July, US Tech major IBM had close to 200 positions open in India. Of course cloud architects and machine learning experts were part of the list, but they were fewer in number.
The demand were for technical support engineers, mainframe specialists, Unix and database administrators, which are considered legacy skills, accounted for about 33 percent.
This might in contrast to the recent push the industry has seen towards latest technologies such as cloud, cybersecurity and data analytics. But as clients cut IT spending and look to maintain their existing IT infrastructure, these skills are in demand.
NG Subramanium, COO, TCS, said during Q4 FY20 earnings call, there is demand mainframe technologies and COBOL and a few other older technologies that the company has been able to systematically support as well.
Demand for legacy skills
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Mainframes refer to computers used by organisations such as banks and financial services for mission critical application such as core banking data. Even though cloud adoption is increasing, large banks continue to still use mainframes for processing core banking information that are sensitive and critical.
Of course, IBM was synonymous with mainframes and dominated the market. Many systems are still running on the company’s mainframes.
However with cloud gaining traction, demand for mainframe technology came down and so did the talents needed. But when COVID-19 hit, client of IT firms cut down on spending. But they still have to maintain their existing infrastructure, which runs on legacy technologies such as mainframes. These infrastructure have to be maintained and supported.
Another reason is, Pareekh Jain explained that majority of the digital workforce US tech majors is not in India and they need resources trained in technologies such as mainframes to cater to the demand arising now at the back of pandemic. “With vendor consolidation, these skills would be needed right now,” he added.
What do you need to become a mainframe expert?
Just like different skills needed in cloud such storage and processing, mainframes too have similar structure. This includes developing programmes for maintenance and support, and also storage.
One needs to master Customer Information Control System (CICS) for transaction processing and Virtual Storage Access Method (VSAM) to organise data in mainframes.
Programing languages used for mainframes is COBOL. Other languages include Job Control Language (JCL), a scripting language used on IBM mainframes OS.
Industries that are large users of mainframes include banks, insurance, healthcare, government and retail. Currently there are close to 11 openings for this skill.
Application developer for DBMS
Candidates are expected to implement data strategies, build data flows and develop data models. To accomplish this task, one needs to have a good grasp of database programming languages such as SQL. There were 26 vacancies for this post in mid-July. Currently there are six.
It is one of the oldest operating systems and predominantly uses C or C++. The profile requires you to run Unix on Linux operating system. At the time of publishing the demand was for three Unix system administrators.