Don’t Plan on Extinction for Legacy IT Skills Anytime Soon

Ever since the mid 1980s there has been constant chatter on the topic of the likely extinction of “legacy” computing within enterprise IT organizations. Now, with the advent of cloud computing (which comprises infrastructure/platform/software as a service offers), the volume level on this chatter is increasing. We don’t think it makes sense to plan on the demise of these systems any time soon.

In fact, mainframe computing is still around. As Robert Collins points out in an April 23, 2012 entry to his blog, “It’s a COBOL World” titled COBOL Today, “COBOL is an ever advancing language and is as current and modern as anything else out in the market. COBOL is in use every day in literally thousands of companies.” We think it is highly unlikely that these businesses are going to walk away from substantial investment in mainframe computer systems. In fact, from a data center security perspective it makes perfect sense to support additional protocols like SNA (Systems Network Architecture) over which mainframe computers communicate data, in addition to today’s ubiquitous TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) networking protocol.

We think that the realities of ongoing mainframe application development will spill over to application development for on premise client server networks. In other words, we do not see an end, anytime soon, to this area of development for desktop computing inside enterprise firewalls, regardless of how compelling Cloud computing happens to prove to be. Therefore, innovative tech businesses can safely continue to develop specific applications for enterprise IT computing, regardless of operating system or local vs remote serving considerations. Betting hard on cloud only computing predictions may still be a risky bet. There may even be opportunities for SaaS vendors to service desktop computing needs within a computing environment that includes mainframe data sources. In sum, discounting “legacy” computing systems for enterprise IT is not a strategy that we think makes much sense.

Of course, building applications for a shrinking set of computing environments will certainly carry a higher cost. Finding COBOL or CICS developers will certainly be more difficult. As well salary costs will likely be higher. Nevertheless, achieving a position in markets with far fewer competitors, but markets with pervasive and persistent needs for solutions may be a highly defensible option for tech innovators. If you plan on exploring the opportunities presented by these “legacy” enterprise IT computing markets, we welcome an opportunity to speak with you. Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

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