IBM Academic Initiative Boosts Mainframe Community, Helps Plug Projected Skills Gap

Program Expands to 150 Universities Around the Globe; IBM Connects Generation Y With Baby Boomers to Train the Mainframe Experts of the 21st Century

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ARMONK, NY - 14 Jul 2005: IBM today announced that 150 colleges and universities worldwide offer educational resources on the IBM eServer zSeries mainframe through its Academic Initiative. Launched in 2003, university membership has grown 650 percent in the last year.

The zSeries program of the Academic Initiative provides students and professors with hands-on access to the zSeries mainframe, curriculum, industry experts, and training for students and faculty. The goal is to assist students in developing practical mainframe skills that enable them to find good jobs quickly upon graduation and to help businesses replace retiring mainframe experts. IBM has pledged to work with schools to reach a target of 20,000 mainframe literate IT professionals in the market by 2010. To meet this goal, IBM hopes to double the number of schools involved by the end of 2005.

"Through this program, computer science programs around the world are training thousands of students on highly marketable mainframe skills based on the platform's unmatched features and support of open standards like Linux and Java," said Mike Bliss, Director of IBM eServer zSeries Technical Support and Marketing. "Students are often surprised to learn that many of the virtualization and security features that are now beginning to appear on UNIX and x86 systems have been running on mainframes for many years. These mainframe capabilities are in many cases more capable than the implementations on distributed systems and remain uniquely relevant to the demands of today's IT challenges."

Professor David Douglas of The University of Arkansas, Walton School of Business, teaches two courses around the mainframe as part of a B.S. in Information Systems. Walton Business School recently announced that this year it would receive access to a zSeries mainframe, IBM software, courseware, customized training and development, benefits valued at approximately $7 million.

"Even though mainframes hold most of the world's data, today's computer science students grew up with distributed systems and even consider older UNIX systems to be legacy platforms," said Professor Douglas. "By teaming with IBM to offer course materials and hands-on access to the mainframe, students are beginning to realize that although mainframes are a more complex technology, most of the features they've learned about in the distributed environment actually originated on the mainframe. It's an innovative platform with a great future."

The training is paying off for students. Twenty-four-year-old Joshua Smith credits an operating systems class within the zSeries program taken at Malone College with helping him land an IT programmer/analyst position at an Ohio-based manufacturer. Smith explains, "Before taking the operating systems class on zSeries, I thought the mainframe was on its way out. The more I learned, the more I realized the value of working on hardware that sets the standard in security, scalability and uptime."

The Academic Initiative zSeries Program reaches students globally:

"This program is part of IBM's wider commitment to the mainframe community," said Bliss. "We listened to our customers' concerns about the graying of mainframe skills. We want to help bridge the projected gap. The Academic Initiative is all about providing in demand skills for an on demand world."

The zSeries Program is a complementary effort to the IBM Academic Initiative, an innovative program offering a wide range of technology education benefits from free to fee that can scale to meet the goals of most colleges and universities. IBM will work with schools -- both directly and virtually via the Web -- that support open standards and seek to use open source and IBM technologies for teaching purposes. For more information on the IBM Academic Initiative, visit