Managed Services

Delivering skills and expertise for the next generation of mainframe users

The computer sciences department of a leading engineering-oriented university in the South is fully committed to preparing its students for exciting careers in 21st century computing. To ensure a complete and compelling curriculum, the leadership of the department recognized the value of educating the next generation of engineers to develop knowledge and expertise in mainframes.

These skills are particularly important – and valuable – when you consider that 70% to 80% of business data already resides on IBM System z mainframes, and that mainframes provide the most secure, reliable, robust and scalable platform for many of today’s most exciting IT initiatives – including cloud computing, Big Data analytics, mobility and virtualization.

So the university decided to participate in the IBM Academic Initiative. As part of the program, IBM provided the university with a free System z system, along with the software to utilize the system for academic purposes.

There was only one problem: Nobody at the university had the skills to get the system up and running.

Enter Vicom Infinity.

When Vicom Infinity learned of the university’s challenges, we made a proposal: We could provide the remote IT managed services to get the system up and running, while university personnel and students could “look over our shoulder” to develop their own knowledge and skills in working in a System z environment. Vicom Infinity designed, architected and implemented the university’s system using z/VM Linux, running z/OS on z/VM. We also implemented the CSL-WAVE management tool to simplify virtualization and consolidation using z/VM and Linux on System z.

The results: Computer sciences students at the university are now getting the skills they will need in the workforce to drive the next generation of System z and Linux deployments. The faculty is now capable of providing students with their own virtual servers so they can do their own assignments.

The installation has been so successful, in fact, that the university is exploring new ways in which the mainframe can benefit the entire university and the community at large, and not just the computer sciences department. They are looking at deploying a System z solution so they can consolidate their server infrastructure for a variety of potential purposes – to create a cloud and analytics center for other universities and high schools in the region, for example, or to offer a research and development facility that could be used by public and private-sector organizations to develop new applications and business services.

At Vicom Infinity we are particularly proud of our work with this university. As the old proverb goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” We provided the fishing lessons, and a new generation of computer scientists, engineers and users will benefit for many years to come.

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