But I want to comment that as a young mainframer (I started 14 years ago at the age of 26, with a big IBM competitor), I really enjoyed working with older people.
They work quite hard (they have survived lots of changes in the organization, and that - in majority of cases - means that their contribution was appreciated somewhere), often are less crazy (they are set in life, don't have to "compete" anymore), don't panic or get overexcited too much (they have seen lot of stuff and that moderates their emotions), have good stories from life (they lived through one already), and you can learn from them a lot (they often have weird experience in areas that you would never expect).
And a youngster can complement them nicely - trying out new things, implementing new technology, experiment, bring new viewpoints; often they will appreciate your energy to do that.
A lot of mainframe users never needed a mainframe, they just didn't want to get fired for not buying IBM. Other users need some sort of mainframe reliability, but that's also achievable on a distributed system running on unreliable PCs.
There are some users whose use is genuinely deeply entwined with features mainframes provide, but those are dying out.
I don't buy this. Many of our critical systems are on PC architectures. Mainframes don't have some magic sauce, well designed distributed architectures should offer enough reliability.
Edit: reading comprehension fail, please ignore my comment :-)
Why waste your money on a single rack-mounted PC when you can buy 40 cheap cellphones running Android and network them together. That'll probably provide greater reliability.
The obvious answer is the same as why some use mainframes over PCs. You can't easily convert all workloads running on a rack-mounted PC to a network of cellphones. Similarly, you can't easily convert all programs running on mainframes to running on PCs.
Which is what I was alluding to with the last paragraph in my upthread comment. There are mainframe use-cases that are genuinely entwined with those hardware platforms. A mainframe isn't just a fridge-sized PC.
By the 1990s, "big iron" referred not only to mainframe (S360 descendants -- now S390 / zOS), but big Unix vendors: Sun (now Oracle), HP, Data General, SGI, etc.
Some of these still survive in some form:
In mainframe hardware, IBM doesn't have much direct competitors. In mainframe software, there are many but most of the are much smaller than IBM, so it is often more symbiotic than competitive relationship.
However, IBM has dominated this market for as long as I can remember and today I believe they are the only ones making mainframe computers.
Worst IT practices and work ethics you could imagine. Lost source code, no comments/documentation, no tests, no monitoring, no benchmarks ... most of the work was done by people without a degree in anything and stayed around for decades. It's not well thought engineering.
I enjoyed working on mainframes, I still think it's amazing technology. Some of my colleagues where the nicest people I ever met, where very skilled and taught me a lot.
But I am now a DevOps working with open source, cloud computing & containerization, everything is nicer and a lot more interesting. And I don't have to fight everyone anymore because I am the one who will have to maintain the crap of retired people (most of the time I would hit a brick wall trying to explain what is IT in the 21st century).
This is true in most large orgs. That statement was true in the military, tech companies, and the non-tech companies I've worked for. The amount of politics and the size of egos grows exponentially the larger you get.
You don't have to be "young" (however one defines that) to try out new things, implement new technology, experiment, bring new viewpoints and the like. Unless you simply define "young" as people who do those very things, which divorces the notion of "youth" from calendar age... which is probably the correct way to look at it. There's no particular reason, for example, to think that someone who's 60 is not interesting in "trying out new things", "experimenting", etc. OTOH, you could have someone who's 26 who is very stuck in their ways and not interested in doing anything new.
The more expertise you get the more nuanced view of things you get, and it really complicates the problem analysis and the decision of how should you proceed. Basically, as you learn, you become overfitted to the current solution - you see so many problems with other approaches that they seem unfeasible. But people with less experience do not have this "problem". They will happily proceed and experiment. This would by itself end in a disaster, but with the proper guidance of expert, worst ideas can be avoided and the result is often beneficial.
You just knew you were walking into a failing company defined solely by bureaucracy and politics with employees that don't really want to be there.
On top of this the total compensation was downright insulting even at the upper end of the range.
Nope'd out of there pretty quickly, even though I was rather desperate for a position at the time.
Edit: Did I mention how horrible the interview process was? You needed to install software with admin permissions on your computer alongside having your webcam active the whole time. Throughout the interview you needed to record 2-minute skits with random prompts given to you. Have you ever tried talking into a webcam with no one on the other end, unprepared? What nonsense. Not sure what anyone at IBM was thinking with this.
It's more likely that older workers are laid off because they are more expensive due to higher higher pay, have more paid time off, use more healthcare and are more politically calibrated to their organizations than younger workers.
Cisco's one off downsizing has been threefold.
This is just a list of rationalizations that you would prefer to believe. That doesn't make them true. If those reasons were actually correct then IBM wouldn't need to fire people. They could solve all of them in other, less (potentially) very expensive ways.
I would be hard pressed to find anything cool I did on my time there; quite the opposite, everything was 'uncool': uncool offices, uncool projects, uncool tech, uncool processes.
And to add to all that, they offer salaries and perks below market rate compared to their direct competitors. Remember when recently IBM rescinded all remote work arrangement for employees? Good luck attracting talent like that.
I don't think IBM is doomed just yet. Their sheer size and inertia will keep them moving for quite a while. But if they want to keep up with the competition they will need to pivot really really hard. Also they should we aware of their strengths and weaknesses and not compete with Google. Just don't.
I work at IBM in europe. We have open office spaces, I will work remotely for the entirety of next year. I guess the work I'm doing would be considered 'uncool' by most people my age (Internal Devops engineering).
I'm always surprised whenever I read just how bad it's supposed to be as it doesn't remotely match my experience.
But I'm young, yeah, and I want to distance myself from IBM products.
Why? I'v been setting IBM Tivoli/Spectrum protect to backup client computers and, ugh, is it ugly, unfriendly and complex piece of software. I'v also touched the server part. Maybe it's just me, the windows guy (but who loves scripting) and it is more appealing to linux-type guys. Then I got feedback from Linux team that they also don't love that product.
They should do something about their products or product managers to be more appealing.
After 1hr they will present IBM QRadar to us. Perhaps it will be a pretty presentation and so. I just wonder what's it under the hood, when sysadmins put their hands on it - any experiences someone can share?
QRadar is a glorified syslog server with a query interface (bought by IBM in 2011, formerly developed by Q1 Labs, est 2001), and ... again the fact that Splunk is available (started 2 years after Q1 Labs), that the ELK stack is even mentioned in SIEM circles, that OSSIM an open source alternative is seen as more usable all just point to the conclusion that QRadar too is just salesware :/
They are used by big sites, governments are the biggest sites you can get.
Having said that, TSM (what they called it before the rebranding) was the only commercial offering we found that would reliably back up and recover our systems...
I was fond of IBM... Until I had the change of being interviewed by one of their HR people in the local branch (nothern Italy).
That was the worst interview experience ever.
This woman called me as soon as I emailed her some details about me, including my phone number, without any kind of prior agreement or scheduling, and puth me through an enormous amount of questions, all while being extremely rude, until we reached the compensation topic, to which she replied that they were looking for someone with double my experience but for less money.
Every week there would be some sort of a "commotion" or "going away" party as people were let go. It mostly DBA's and Unix Support guys that were clearly over 40 years old.
My manager was straight up implying "if you don't get the work done, you won't get a good reference for me and you'll be on the next list". I'm in my 20s and that was the first time someone in a professional setting threatened me in such manner.
I needed a reference after I left, but from my team the manager was let go, 3 out 5 team members were let go and the others and the remaining 2 left. The manager of the manager was forced to a sabbatical and just like that poof, my old team was gone.
I will never go back to IBM, no matter how cool and hip they make it for my generation.
> “The company hires 50,000 employees each year.”
> The number of IBM employees has fallen to its lowest point in six years, with 350,600 global workers at the end of 2018 -- a 19% reduction since 2013.
The fact that a company can have such high turnover and still function says something about how much work each of those people were doing. While an impressive effort at potentially reinvesting the culture, I bet many of those jobs weren't necessary from the beginning.
They had their own decently sized building where I used to live, now there isn't a single employee in the entire state.
IBM is far past the point where they can appeal to younger folks. They have no headspace in anyone under 40, and certainly not with anyone with any talent.
> IBM produces and sells computer hardware, middleware and software, and provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. IBM is also a major research organization, holding the record for most U.S. patents generated by a business (as of 2019) for 26 consecutive years.
What on Earth are all of those patents for?
That being said, I was glad to get to work with some experienced people. All of the other college-aged people that I knew there were stuck mindlessly writing tests.
Millennials are all in their 30s and older now.
I don't think that works either, Gen Z are either really early in their career and only making up a tiny fraction of the industry or not in any career at all yet, it's hardly the demographic IBM needs to appeal to.
As an older millennial my hair is starting to take on a grayish tinge and ageism in the industry is becoming a direct concern, so this can only lower my opinion of IBM.
We all get old, after all. And
more importantly, even if we didn't all get old, it's still wrong to discriminate (we don't all become black over time, but it's still wrong to discriminate in the basis of race).
No need to copy and paste your canned generation label response just because millennial was mentioned, useful for linkedin clickbait but not really this article
This article just gets a mild chuckle about a company catering to a nearly middle aged experienced workforce because even they find IBM uncool
Have you ever seen a comment on HN to the effect of "yeah, if you are in the US and not already working for one of the big tech companies, at this point that just means you are not good enough to be working for them" (implying they should have been interviewing there as frequently as possible until they land in one of them, and also that every other software job falls well short in terms of compensation - implying some kind of additional stupidity on your part if you don't aspire to work for big tech).
Today it is IBM - tomorrow, it is going to be every other company whose coolness falls short of the big tech companies. I wonder what alternative IBM really had?
> [...] much more innovative and receptive to technology than baby boomers.
Not sure whose head has accumulated chalk, but I doubt they will find anyone creative that doesn't immediately recognize the downsides of these perspectives.
I don't think IBM is badly positioned in general, but their lacking competition to bigger tech corps are due to strategic failings, which should be attributed to management. If that cannot take responsibility, I don't know why I should want to work for them.
Why do they still have such huge numbers? Can't they make the company work with just 10% of those?