Mainframe education is alive and well - long live Enterprise Systems
timhahn 100000F0AC Visits (4202)
I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at another conference last week - the Enterprise Computing Community 2012 conference, held at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. This was my first time presenting at this event and I was quite happy that I was able to attend. Throughout the day and a half of talks, there was a consistent message delivered to the audience and discussed between sessions - it is imperative that learning enterprise systems and large-scale computing remain a part of the curriculum in computer science programs across the world.
The talks given at the conference were a mix of case studies, information on the latest mainframe hardware and software, and success stories from university educators who have taken on the challenge of teaching Enterprise Computing as a part of their college curriculums. I met with several educators including: David and Susan Dischiave (Syracuse University), H. Paul Haiduk (West Texas A&M University), and Cameron Seay (North Carolina Agriculture and Technology). These educators are making sure that students in their schools are learning the concepts and design skills necessary to architect, develop, and maintain large-scale computing systems. Systems which handle millions of transactions per day, process billions of records of information, and in short, keep the world in which we are used to living in running.
There were several case studies presented which showed how both large and small businesses are taking advantage of Enterprise Computing systems. The benefits these organizations have found range from energy and floor-space savings to very cost-efficient systems management of a large number of virtual systems all running on a single hardware computing system. In particular, a talk by Mark Shackelford of Baldor Electric and a talk by Bill Thirsk of Marist College exemplified the many benefits to using mainframe systems for handling a wide range of computing tasks.
My talk at the conference was titled "Leveraging Cloud Technology to Support Enterprise Computing Education". In this presentation, I outlined how educators could start making use of cloud-computing platforms and remote desktop environments to enable students to access emulated mainframe environments which are setup and torn-down quickly and efficiently. By using a model of managing a small set of system images from which virtual system instances are created and used by students, the students will have a better chance to really dig into the systems, taking some chances with new configuration settings, making mistakes, and in so doing, learning much much more about enterprise systems than they would otherwise be able to do. And when the system instance stops working, simply delete the instance and start with a fresh new system instance again.
I hope that I get the chance to speak at this conference again next year, and learn about the continued success of these university programs as well as the IBM Academic Initiative for System z.