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IBM Reaches Milestone in Number of Colleges and Universities Participating in Mainframe Skills Program


IBM’s Academic Initiative for System z Program Surpasses 400 Schools Globally; Nearly 50,000 Students Trained on Mainframe; Program Grows as Demand for Mainframe Skills Rises Dramatically

MUMBAI, INDIA and MUNICH, GERMANY and NEW YORK and TOKYO.- At an event in New York City today, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced that it has surpassed 400 colleges and universities globally that are now actively teaching and developing mainframe courses and accredited certificates through its global Academic Initiative for System z program. This has jumped from just 24 colleges and universities in 2004 with now nearly 50,000 students completing mainframe training. The news comes as IBM today announced the world’s most powerful computer, the IBM System z10 Enterprise Class (see separate press release on today’s z10 news).

West Texas A&M and the University of Surrey (United Kingdom) are two of the most recent universities to start mainframe-based curriculum, pushing the number over 400.

“Interest in the mainframe computing platform continues to grow amongst our students, which has prompted us to redesign our curriculum in computer science with a renewed focus on enterprise computing and mainframes,” said H. Paul Haiduk, Professor and Computer Science Program Coordinator, West Texas A&M University. “Working with IBM, our students are learning about the open standards and open source mainframe applications, how using tools such as Rational give the mainframe ease-of-use, and the tremendous job opportunities that will be out in the market for our students as developers, programmers or innovators around the mainframe. The mainframe is the foundation for their careers.”

Unmatched in its ability to manage the billions of transactions that constitute the backbone of the top enterprise customers in the world today, the mainframe’s ability to reduce infrastructure complexity, improve the data center footprint, ensure security of information, and lower energy and power costs in the data center, is the ideal engine for today’s new enterprise data center.

“As enterprise customers are looking to reduce costs associated with their massive infrastructure footprint and ensure five nines of security -- the mainframe is the only single technology that can be implemented now that can have an immediate impact,” said Michael Bliss, Director, System z Technical Support and Academic Initiative for System z. “We’re seeing strong demand for mainframe-skilled students -- from businesses, governments, and other institutions and through the Academic Initiative for System z program -- having a global pool of students and experts skilled on the mainframe is locked in for decades to come.”

Companies such as BMO Financial Group, Progressive, Charles Schwab and Neon Enterprise Software have benefited with interns or new hires, partnering with the IBM Academic Initiative for System z.

“Building on the strong capabilities of our employees, we have been collaborating with local universities, colleges and IBM to enhance our exceptional skills and experience on our mainframe platforms -- a vital component of our data centre strategy,” said Steve Garner, Manager, Hardware & Software Services, Technology & Operations, BMO Financial Group. “As a leading Canadian financial institution that is committed to continuous learning and personal development, we place a very high value on any initiative that provides graduate students with opportunities to learn the mission-critical mainframe skills we need to build a steady pipeline of professionals to meet our business and infrastructure needs.”

Launched in 2004, the overall IBM Academic Initiative is a program offering a wide range of technology education benefits through IBM’s deep technology history -- from IBM supplied instruction to technology -- that can scale to meet the goals of most colleges and universities. The mainframe-specific part of the Academic Initiative works with schools to enable courses, labs, senior design projects, and research in large systems thinking. A recent initiative -- System z roundtables on campus -- connects the mainframe community with academia -- bringing IBM clients and Business Partners on campus together with IBM to talk with educators about large systems thinking and the mainframe.

Academia’s increased interest in the mainframe dovetails with IBM’s five-year, $100 million investment to enable technology administrators and computer programmers to more easily program, manage and administer a mainframe system -- as well as to increasingly automate the development and deployment of applications for the mainframe environment. Momentum behind the IBM mainframe is clear -- with IBM moving from 17 percent market share in 2000 to 34 percent market share(1) in 2007.

At current count, nearly 50,000 students worldwide have taken large enterprise or mainframe specific courses since 2004 at colleges and universities. The students have either graduated with degrees in Information Systems or Computer Science with a concentration on large enterprise or mainframe, or completed mainframe-specific courses at the school, in order to prepare for careers with Fortune 1000 companies.

“The University of Surrey’s new large enterprise systems curriculum has generated a great deal of interest from our students. The innovations IBM have introduced to the mainframe platform are the key reason for this immense popularity,” said Steve Schneider, Professor of Computing and Head of Department at the UK’s University of Surrey. “Our students are telling us two things: they are highly enthusiastic about mainframe-related career opportunities, and they believe the mainframe platform has a tremendous future as it continues to evolve.”

The Mainframe is Next Generation Technology
Corporate clients continue to cite hiring young talent as an excellent way to bring fresh ideas and investigate innovative concepts, such as green computing. Recent modern enhancements to the mainframe -- including specialty engines, JAVA, Solaris on the mainframe, virtualization, capacity on demand, and Linux -- have proven that its flagship capabilities are ideal for combating rising electricity, real estate and labor costs. In 2007, IBM announced its own plans to shrink approximately 3,900 computer servers to about 30 System z mainframes running the Linux operating system. The company anticipates that the new server environment will consume approximately 80 percent less energy than the current set up. IBM expects significant savings over five years in energy, software and system support costs.

Interest in the mainframe does not stop at the college and university level. Just last month, IBM announced the winners of the 2007 IBM Student Mainframe Contest -- and marked the first year high school students entered the contest and competed with college students. More than 8,000 students from more than 1,000 colleges across the globe have competed in IBM’s Student Mainframe Contest over the past three years. The contest runs each fall semester in North America and has run in eight additional countries.

To see more information about how IBM is developing skills for the mainframe community and a sample of mainframe education programs in 28 schools worldwide, please read EnergiZed at


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