Since that thread took for granted that the layoffs were happening, I see no SNI here. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...
Banks, hospitals, aerospace industry, retail operations, states and governments mostly run on IBM main frames.
These entities refuse to upgrade because “it just works”. IBM charges an arm and a leg to these companies because they know they can’t migrate off.
I happened to come across an invoice from IBM to our company and each server/appliance cost $250K or more. I believe the total cost for the order was a few million dollars. This doesn’t even include the support contracts.
If you have a mainframe it is very likely to be supported by a small army of people who are not at all very happy to be replaced but at the same time are the only ones who knows how the stuff works and the stuff is very opaque to general developer population.
Even building your own fault tolerant Linux cloud seems cheaper. Granted, an insurance company does not have the expertise to build massive computer operating systems.
Or because of money, and other vendor lock-in’s? Then, with all the proprietary stuff, I can see how a migration can easily fail.
But that's boring, awful work. It takes zillions of meetings trying to pry information out of unwilling participants who just want to do their jobs. And Reports! Acres of impenetrable reports trying to document what you found.
Nah, it's more fun for consultancies to roll in and rewrite everything, and then send every department through crazy change management. Suddenly there's a showstopper that nobody noticed until now, the project is already millions of dollars over budget and years late, so it craters.
A few years later another CIO does it all over again.
The way many do this type of migration is to bring in another set of people (or outsource the system.) These new people have no attachment to the old system, but you lose the knowledge of the people you are replacing. This ends up being worse a lot of the time, but if it's too late then the organization won't rollback, and just spend a lot of time fixing their mistakes.
It's rare to get partnerships on the level that is required to change these big systems. In smaller projects, I've had the pleasure of working with some old-timers to update their technology, but it needs to be a collaborative effort.
Another fascinating explanation I heard about was the way floats and numbers are represented in the different architectures. Due to minor differences, a non mainframe/non COBOL implementation produces incorrect results.
I read a great article about it a year or so ago, I'll see if I can find it and link to it.
Keep in mind that the applications running on these mainframes were written in COBOL 30+ years ago, often with poor documentation and specification. It is a tremendous task to port something like that and have the new system behave 100% like the old system.
I think this is why its one of Buffet's fav stocks of all time.
Also, consulting is not going to die so easily - IBM will perform its usual round of layoffs and continue existing.
So no , they are not going off a cliff.
And then, selling out your soul to IBM, and just dying a slow death.
There will be something left of big blue if those two pillars alone hold the decrepit house up.
So of course they're doing layoffs: at least SOME of the orgs that operate under the brand name have to be struggling. It gets a lot less impactful when the news just bubbles down to: "someone made a bad bet somewhere."
It was always coming at a company like this. Now is just the time when these things happen.
The theory is by cutting the bottom and always hiring you constantly improve your workforce.
The reality is then you will always fill reqs, sometimes as quickly as possible, to make sure there is a sacrifice for the gods. Perversely, a team of high-performers is actually punished, as everyone is also ranked against each other, so even if you have the top 10 performers in the company, one or more of them may be fired and will often have their compensation effected (less/no RSUs etc.).
Certainly that was how it felt about 5 years ago, not sure about today.
1. The "periodically cull the bottom" way of doing things invariably leads to a toxic culture with people looking over their shoulder.
2. Conversely, I've been in tech companies where it was EXTREMELY difficult to fire anyone who wasn't outright awful. Over time that can really erode your culture because people who are on the poor side of mediocre hang around and weigh everything down.
The best solution is to always have high standards, but evaluate people against those actual standards, and don't be afraid to take action if necessary, but don't have arbitrary X% cutoffs.
That said, management is notoriously bad at spotting these people. Chances are they lay off the only person who knows how some crucial piece of SW works...
So what's the criteria for who can't be "re-educated"? Too old?