Welcome!

Open Source Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Derek Weeks, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, Dynatrace Blog

Related Topics: Open Source Cloud

Open Source Cloud: Blog Feed Post

Information Technology: Are You Out of Business If You're Over Fifty?

My own selling point is the ability to learn and understand quickly any new Technology, Architecture, Paradigm or Methodology

Many IT professionals aged 40+ or 50+ are without a job and the task of finding a new one in IT is very difficult. There are a variety of opinions as to why this should be.

Recently I participated in a popular discussion in the Linkedin Group "Israel High Tech" about high-tech veterans and work. Here is a quick summery of the arguments for and against.



The arguments for hiring veterans
The arguments for hiring veterans are that they have experience, Business Knowledge and Technical skills (or at least many of them have these skills). They will not quit their job for another job and they are willing to do any assignment, even if some years ago they were Managers.

If this is the case, then the sole reason for not hiring them must be Ageism e.g. Age Discrimination.

The arguments for not hiring veterans
The arguments for not hiring workers aged 40+ or 50+ are that they're simply not qualified: their knowledge is not up to date.

For example, a Manager who would like to hire Linux Kernel experts, said that he would hire 50+ people properly skilled for this task. However, he found no one. He added that if those who are talking about Ageism could send him a 50+ Linux Kernel expert's resume he would hire him on the spot.

The conclusion of those supporting this view is Ageism is not the reason for not hiring 50+ High Tech experts. It is simply a matter of the better skills, abilities or lower salary requirements of younger people.

My Take
I am 62 years old having about 40 years' experience. As an IT expert, I worked both for companies and, for many years, as a freelancer.

Many young and especially elderly IT professionals have expertise in a certain IT field e.g. Java development, ITIL, C# etc. Good professionals excel in their field and learn and update continuously.

My approach is different. I excelled in one field, namely IBM Mainframe MVS and z/OS Operating Systems; but after many years in that field, I studied many other fields. I was able to generalize the principles and methods to many other IT fields.

My selling point is the ability to learn quickly and understand quickly any new Technology, Architecture, Paradigm or Methodology.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is a good example. I was exposed to this concept prior to most of the IT professionals in Israel, while working together with a team of experts from another country. They shared their opinions and Service-based Framework.

After listening to them, I learned all there was to learn about SOA. When the SOA evolution crossed the Hype stages, I was better prepared than others because I had already begun to learn and experience SOA a year or two prior to most other IT professionals in Israel.

In the next section, I depict a special technical assignment I completed successfully as a 50+worker. I have highlighted in blue the factors and behavioral aspects which are age-related.

The assignment
A client asked me to help him in fixing Assembler code problems in a tailored extension to his z/OS Operating System (Jes2 Exits). I was lucky many 50+ IT professionals do not even get the chance to work.

According to his description, after any OS upgrade, they had to perform minor code changes. It always worked properly. But this time, none of the exits were performing their tasks properly after those minor changes.

Before accepting the challenge I had to consider whether take the assignment or not. I had to take into account two major factors:

1. For about 25 years I had neither read nor written even one single Assembler Line of Code. No doubt, I could do it easily 25 years or 30 years before. I coded a lot more complicated Assembler supplements to the OS. I was no loner with Hands On as far as Bits and Bytes are concerned.

A failure in completing the assignment properly was one possible scenario.

Some of the 50+ IT workers were not able to preserve their Hands On skills, because their current jobs are less technical or due to Paradigm Shift or Technology Change their technical expertise is less relevant or obsolete.

2. It was a Fixed Price assignment. Even if I will not fail, I properly work a large number of hours to complete the task.

Young People usually complete assignments more quickly, unless Experience is an important factor.

I decided to take the Challenge.

Solving the Technical Problems
I did not begun my work by looking at the code: I read IBM Manual. It did not take long to discover the reason nothing was working as expected.


It was simple: Unlike other upgrades in this version IBM made significant design change to the JES2 and to its Exits structure and mode of operation. MY approach is a typical grey-haired person's approach. A young expert would probably try to fix the code first. After few days of failures he may check the manuals.

My assignment was changed from minor code changes to designing a solution based on the new mode of operation and Exits structure. After designing, I had to code a lot more than minor changes.

Coding and Debugging
I coded slowly, because I had to verify that I was reducing the number of bugs to a minimum. Whenever something went wrong, I assumed that I had made a mistake and tried to identify and solve the bug.

I faced two difficult debugging issues that I spent a lot of time solving:

Problem 1: who is to be blamed for the Bug?
You already know my answer: I am to be blamed.

However, after reading the manuals again and again and verifying that I am 100% compatible with the explanations and the syntax described in the manuals and after testing any possible scenario and after analyzing the code again and again, I finally concluded that I did nothing wrong.

It should be a bug in IBM's OS. The local technical support group insisted that it is my fault. They could not find what was wrong.

I gave them all the tests scenarios and results. In one scenario my code was perfect, but in a slightly different scenario it failed. It looks like someone in IBM missed the less frequent scenario or at least made a coding mistake in this scenario.

When the data was send to the Development Group they confirmed my claim. It was IBM's bug. I was also given a workaround which solved the problem until they fixed it.

A young IT expert would have concluded a week or two earlier that it is IBM's bug. He would save a week or two. Bear in mind that in most cases it is a customer's bug and not a vendor's bug, therefore in many other cases a young expert would waste a lot of time: he would conclude that it is a vendor's bug and apply to the vendor. The vendor will check it for a week or two or a month or two months and the answer will be: "No Bug found".

Problem 2: Young IT professionals would have loved that Bug
This bug was in a very complex routine. As it was working properly for about 20 years, I assumed that the Data Exception was my bug and that it was outside that routine code. I found nothing. I asked someone with a lot of experience to help me. He found no bug. After two weeks I looked for an out-of-the-box solution: I considered the possibility that although, no code was change

Like most of other problems, after solving the solution is simple: It was a combined effect of an old times bug (Which was always in the code) and the design Changes made by IBM.

The bug was in an instruction for moving data from one location in the computer memory to another. The instruction is fixed length instruction, which moves always 8 bytes. However, someone forgot this and code the length. Assembler is a low level Programming Language. The 8 coded in the instruction was interpreted as adding Register8 content to the address defining the data location.

No harm was caused because Register8 always contained zero. Adding zero to an address will result in the same address. After the design change Register8 contains a non-zero value, which was added to the memory address, causing the Data Exception.

Grey-haired IT professionals have no advantage over young experts in solving such problems, unless they faced a similar problem in the past.

The Bottom Line
Young people have some advantages over 50+ people, but 50+ people have their advantages as well.

It comes down to an individual question interacting with the specific assignment: One 50+ man or woman could be an excellent choice. Another could be a waste of time and money. It it also true for 25 year-old professionals: one could perform a task perfectly, while another might fail to provide any value.

There are tasks that are more adequate for experienced Grey Haired. Young people will generally, be a better fit for other tasks.

Would someone hire me for Linux Kernel assignments? Probably not. I have no knowledge and no experience.

Would I be able to perform properly Linux Kernel assignments? I think I would be able to do this, yes. I would need to spend a long time learning it (and no one will be willing to pay for this time). But after I completed learning it, my experience in MVS Nucleus changes in those old days when MVS was immature, could count in my favor.

Fortunately, I do not need (financially) and I do not want to code Linux Kernel!

More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...