Unix Enterprise by Harris Kern & Randy Johnson

Get with the program -- mentor your staff

Retraining your mainframers to fit the client/server environment is a tough challenge to say the least. Put these programs in place to ease the transition

October  1997
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What are the key factors in transitioning your legacy systems staff to the client/server distributed computing model? In order to avoid morale problems and conflicts -- both personal and technical -- you must have a specific plan of action. We outline some important programs you should implement before taking the plunge. (1,400 words)

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One of the most important ingredients and biggest challenges in transitioning to client/server distributed computing is motivating the mainframe professionals to adopt and adapt to the client/server environment. They need to be involved in the planning and implementation of your new distributed computing environment while maintaining reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) in the legacy environment. This is easier said than done as they are still focusing all their time and energy on the latter. Doing this right is extremely time consuming and demanding on everyone. But dealing with this issue instead of sweeping it under the data center raised floor will be one of the key factors ultimately leading to a very reliable, available, and serviceable heterogeneous computing environment.

There are several reasons why this is so important. Mainframe staff are trained and disciplined in supporting a controlled and managed environment. This is reason enough; but there are more that we're outlining below. Always remember -- and we've said this for the past seven years -- it's easier to teach mainframe staff a new technology than it is to teach client/server technical staff discipline. To successfully transition to a client/server-based distributed computing business system, mainframe disciplines need to be adopted into your new paradigm. We've also said that you need to streamline and remove the bureaucracy from those disciplines. But talk is cheap. Unfortunately, people often don't have the time to take this stuff seriously.

One key factor in favor of retraining and transitioning mainframe staffers versus hiring replacement talent is the fact that they know the business. Another critical factor is to sustain morale. If you separate the new and the legacy you're inviting big morale problems along with:


The programs
It takes everyone working together to make this transition successful. You must provide these folks with the opportunity to learn. The ones with the initiative and drive will take advantage of these programs. The ones that won't will have nothing to complain about as long as they were provided the chance. It is imperative that you use training programs to break the mindset barriers between the legacy and newer distributed environments. You may want to consider the following programs:


About the author
[Harris & Randy photo] Harris Kern (harris.kern@sunworld.com) is Sun's Open Systems Migration Consultant for NAAFO Market Development. Randy Johnson (randy.johnson@sunworld.com) owns R&H Associates, a full-time rightsizing consultancy in Boulder Creek, CA. R&H Associates helps people worldwide in implementing and supporting client/server infrastructures based on their proven methodologies. © 1997 Harris Kern and Randy Johnson. All rights reserved.

[Amazon.com Books]Harris Kern and Randy Johnson are authors of Rightsizing The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype and coauthors of Managing The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype, and Networking The New Enterprise: The Proof, Not the Hype. You can buy these at Amazon.com Books. Select the hyperlinks to learn more about each and Amazon.com.

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