Confessions of a 25 year old Mainframer (pt. 1)

Hello, My name is Colton Quillicy. I’m 25, and I’m a mainframer.

Yes… I know. A rare breed. I don’t know how I got here… a love of technology I guess? I personally blame my upbringing.

My father, Scott Quillicy, got a degree in computer science in the early ’80s, did some time with IBM and then started his own company, a successful data replication company, in 2000. Naturally I was set up with my own computer when I was a toddler (albeit, without any internet) and already hearing, constantly, about mainframes and changed data capture by age 8. I continued to get my feet wet as an intern at the company through high school, where I was by far the youngest one in the lab.

Now, aged 25, waist-deep in full-time mainframe work, I’ve noticed that age gap has become harder to traverse. Most of the really mainframe-savvy people are close to or over 60 years old and the youths coming in are few and far between. I’d never see any of my friends in their 20s mention mainframes in their Facebook posts about the hot new tech piece. In fact, I’d be surprised to hear about mainframes at all outside of my work at SQData. However, despite this apparent lack of relevance, the mainframe to this day is still an extremely useful tool for big companies, and it’s not going away any time soon.

I say big companies because, from my point of view, mainframe use is probably going to increase for larger customers and decrease for the others. We have many clients who are set on moving off of the mainframe, mostly due to costs. However, if you take into account the number of people required to support distributed systems, plus software and infrastructure costs, the mainframe doesn’t look as costly after all. Mainframe only looks more costly at face value because the invoices appear in one or two buckets instead of hundreds.

There is also change on the horizon to take into account, sure. Mainframe service providers are being forced to consolidate because the young’uns aren’t interested in learning mainframe, but let me ask you this: who’s going to service your mainframes after all the experts have retired and there’s still a ton of valuable data on them? Hopefully, not just me.

I know a person in my position is barely allowed to rent a car, much less give my two cents on the future of the mainframe, but my viewpoint, the mainframe is highly underrated. It’s not as costly as it seems, it’s reliable, and it will still be around for a while. I plan on standing by it until I’m ready to retire if need be, even if by that point I’m the only man standing.

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