CHEER UP CHAPS: A Personal View
by Bruce Taylor
The overriding tone of the recent issues of ACP-TPF Today has been one of doom and gloom and the January 1993 issue was no exception. Apart from:
Are things in our esoteric world really that bad? I think not! We are suffering a shake-out and an enforced return to economic reality after having had it too good for too long (particularly: the second half of the eighties). Let's look at the facts:
In the early eighties there were, according to my count, 87 TPF/ALCS type installations in the world. At that time, only 2 of these were ALCS.
Today, there are 106 such installations!!! Of these 25 are now ALCS, alias TPF/MVS (which I am still adjusting to using), and 68 of them are travel industry related.
The penetration of TPF/MVS is good news for applications people: the same labour-intensive spaghetti is still all there: just as difficult to understand, just as difficult to maintain and just as difficult to change. Thus, job protection is ensured. However, it is not such good news for us systems software types. Although it is true that only a good TPF Systems Programmer can become a good TPF/MVS Systems Programmer with ease and in an acceptable time period, it is also unfortunately true that a lot less of them are required to run an installation.
The popular media would have us believe that the mainframe dinosaur is extinct. I am sure that I face extinction long before our mainframes do. What is of more concern to me are IBM's problems. Here again the popular press would have us believe that the once almighty giant is on the point of total collapse. Again, I doubt that, but the situation is definitely not good with big blue. In the convulsions of restructuring and slimming down, there are going to be casualties and the TPF community may find its relationship with its prime supplier changes radically. The up side of this is that the users are going to have more say in where the product will go, but to achieve that they are going to have to be more active, more outspoken and be prepared to make harder commitments on new product acceptance and usage. This means hard currency commitments by senior management, based on advice, guidance, responsibility and commitment by you senior technicians in the know. A position on a user group will not be the sinecure it was in the past.
Nevertheless, in my view the employment problems many are currently experiencing are primarily a result of the general economic malaise worldwide, and in particular, the abominable financial state of the travel industry, spearheaded by the airlines. They are also the result of exaggerated expectation based on a long period of excessively high incomes. The airlines themselves seem intent on committing collective mass suicide. The prime movers leading these "enterprises(?)" are household names, "gurus" who appear every day in the press or on TV, laying the blame for the industry's woes squarely on another's doorstep.
However, I am much more optimistic about the future and not at all displeased with the present. The economic cycle will turn upwards; it is all a question of psychology. Once we have collective optimism the money will start to flow, growth in real terms (i.e. corporate profit) will return, and we can all get back to the really serious business for which mankind was destined: ensuring an accelerated destruction of the environment.
HYPERION - AMSTERDAM (Netherlands, EEC)