Although there's not much demand for people to run the hulking vacuum-tube, punch-
card-interfaced mainframes of yesteryear, legacy systems don't just disappear when an
upgrade is released. The VAX is a case in point. Since the release of the Alpha system
several years ago, the VAX has undergone a phasing-out. Compaq just announced that the
last model would be delivered at the end of 2000. But on January 1, 2001, IT
departments around the world will fire up their VAXes and continue to run their mission-
critical applications on them. Compaq plans to support its VAXes until 2010, and it's
quite likely that they'll be around for years after that.
As Zona Research notes: "For the same reasons that IT managers do not rip out their
mainframes and throw them away, they are also not likely to rip out their entire
installed bases of LAN/WAN terminals and replace them with Internet technology.
Instead, the deployments are more likely to be incremental, resulting in IT managers
looking at a combination of SNA and IP-based client access, and a combination of
Intranet-based and Internet-based clients accessing the IP side of the host access
Integrating legacy systems with e-commerce is an important part of business, and demand
is growing for people who can do it. (Surprisingly, no specific certification deals
with this issue.)
Mary Ellen Fortier, spokesperson for Compaq's OpenVMS Marketing Division, points to
two career paths for people with such skills: "There are career opportunities for
integrating [legacy systems] with other industry-standard environments, like
Windows NT or Unix. But there's one other piece, and that's taking existing
environments and modernizing them: Web-enabling existing environments."