What Does a Mainframe Consultant Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2018
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A mainframe consultant develops, installs, and maintains mainframe computer systems used for advanced databasing and other complex computing tasks. Such systems are large and powerful, capable of processing high volumes of data, performing complicated calculations, and engaging in other resource-heavy activity. Consultants make sure firms have the systems they need, and provide ongoing support to keep a system running well. Their work can include night and evening call shifts to respond to emergencies, as well as regular office hours for routine tasks and support.

Government agencies and large companies tend to be the primary customers for a mainframe consultant. When a client approaches a consultant or an agency, a series of meetings determine the needs of the system. These include what kind of data is being handled, the level of security, and what the client wants to be able to do with it. A government agency, for instance, might use a mainframe to generate reports based on census data, while an investment bank might use a mainframe for managing information kept internally.


The consultant develops a plan for a system, including the necessary programming so it will meet the needs of the client. Once the client approves, a mainframe consultant can order the components, build the system, and install it. This may require working with a team of information technology professionals who handle different components and work on the programming to make the system run smoothly. They troubleshoot before taking the mainframe on line to make sure it is working well.

Ongoing maintenance needs for a mainframe system can be considerable. The mainframe consultant needs to keep the computer running well with routine scheduled maintenance as well as troubleshooting to identify and resolve problems. As users file reports on issues they experience, consultants evaluate to determine the root of the problem and fix it as quickly as possible. Minimizing downtime can be especially important, as a company or agency’s functionality may be limited while a system isn’t accessible.

In addition to being available to handle routine matters, the mainframe consultant may need to be on call as an emergency responder. If something catastrophic occurs, the system can issue a direct alert, and the company can also call for assistance. Part of the job can include disaster planning and the creation of systems to back up data and functionality. If a problem develops, like a flood that makes it impossible to get into the building, the mainframe consultant can work with the client on getting the emergency plan operational to reduce the disruption.



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