AFCOM's Data Center Institute is calling for action to prevent a looming information technology skills crisis that can potentially cripple the organizations who continue to rely on mainframe-class enterprise servers as part of their infrastructure. The DCI, a think tank launched by the leading association for data center professionals, issued the warning following an April 16 teleconference on recent studies that show more than half of legacy systems specialists are nearing retirement with nobody to replace them.

"Mainframes are not going away anytime soon, unlike the people who service them," says AFCOM President Len Eckhaus. "It is increasingly difficult to replace the old guard: legacy systems gurus might be willing to join the workforce but know little about e-business; young Web-savvy professionals know exactly that but are confounded by the decades-old IS environment.”

He adds, “AFCOM and the DCI believe that this issue has the potential to be as disruptive as Y2K issues, if left unaddressed, and we will be assisting our members in developing the most viable preventive strategies." The DCI believes that such plans should include improved training provisions, sets of measures to retain and retrain existing mainframe staff and incentives for younger IT professionals to move into the enterprise server environment.

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