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eWeek: Making mainframe time machines - with Linux

Dec 04, 2000, 19:51 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Matt Villano)

"On a brisk and sunny day at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the school's data processing facility overflows with life. ... Harry Williams, the school's director of technology and systems, oversees this scene with a knowing smile. Last year, when most of Marist's applications were written in out-of-fashion languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN, Williams couldn't pay students to come in and work on them. Today, however, with the mainframe running the Linux operating system, he said computer science students are so interested that some have volunteered their time."

"This phenomenon is no coincidence; in an age when many young technophiles are turned off by anything older than client/server architecture, Marist's move to Linux is part of a concerted effort by a number of universities, at the urging of IBM, to make mainframe skills more attractive. Rather than trying to teach students how to use the mainframe with old languages they perceive as boring, officials at these schools have opted to teach newer mainframe skills through technologies that are more fun and promise more value on future job markets."

"Languages such as Java, C++, and SQL are all in this new mix, but at the core is Linux. And with recent statistics from International Data Corp. showing this operating system growing faster than any other, Williams said it should be... "There's this mental image among a lot of them as the mainframe being this old dinosaur that can't do anything," Williams said of his students. "With Linux, we hope to change all of that for good."

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