Quuks: A Bridge to the Future of Cobol and Mainframe Technologies.

Quuks: A Bridge to the Future of Cobol and Mainframe Technologies.

Welcome, and it's great to meet you here!
My name is Kaia Lubbers, and I'm excited to take you on a journey into the world of Cobol and Mainframe. This world has recently become a part of my life due to my role as Operations Manager at Quuks. Over the past few months, I've been introduced, educated, and immersed in this ancient yet highly relevant sector, and I'm thrilled to bring you along with me.

In the months, I'll be sharing more about my experiences and the developments within this fascinating world. But before we delve into the details, I want to introduce you to Quuks and provide you with insight into why we do what we do, the challenges we face, and the people behind the company. To share this story effectively, I conducted an interview with the CEO himself, Matthijs Jansen, which you can read below.

Enjoy the read!

It's a pleasure to have you here, Matthijs Jansen, founder and CEO of Quuks. Today, we're sitting down together to introduce our readers to the story of you and Quuks. Let's get straight to the point: can you tell us how you got involved in the world of Cobol and mainframes, and what sparked your interest in this specific niche?

"The reason for me to focus on Cobol and Mainframe came from a request for help within my network. Anva company from Amersfoort approached me with the question if I had a solution for attracting new Cobol developers because they couldn't find anyone anymore. I then built a solution for them to retrain people into Cobol developers, and that's how the ball got rolling and Quuks started."

Fascinating! And how did Quuks come into existence exactly? What was the driving force behind establishing this company?

"The reason it came to me is that I have over 20 years of IT recruitment experience and have also been involved in founding several training companies. Before starting Quuks in 2022, I worked for the Municipality of Amsterdam where I was the point of contact for people wanting to retrain as IT professionals. There, I witnessed the abundance of talent among individuals who possessed all the aptitude and motivation but lacked the resources or opportunities. Hence, I incorporated this aspect into Quuks' mission by focusing on recognizing and nurturing talent rather than solely relying on diplomas and resumes."

That's inspiring. Let's delve into the challenges that companies face when working with Cobol and mainframes. What are some of the most common challenges?

"Continuity, stability, and security are crucial for a Cobol environment, whether or not it's on a mainframe. Currently, continuity is at risk, along with stability. The challenge lies not so much in the technology itself but in ensuring succession and retaining the necessary knowledge to maintain control over the core systems. Nearly all Cobol environments are facing an aging workforce with a high average age, and there is a lack of new junior talent entering the field. Most organizations have limited time to transfer knowledge from seniors to a new generation and must take swift action."

How does Quuks address these challenges and what unique approach does it use to provide solutions?

"In the realm of payment transactions, Cobol accounts for 80% of all transactions. Quuks bridges generations within Cobol/Mainframe environments, ensuring continuity and stability within teams. We nurture talent through tailor-made training programs for Cobol teams."

Can you give us an example of a situation where Quuks has helped solve a complex problem within the Cobol/mainframe world?

"The best example is our first client, Anva. They had a team of 7 developers and needed to expand to 20, but couldn't find anyone in the job market. Additionally, there wasn't much time left, as 5 of the 7 developers were retiring. We then devised a plan to recruit, train, and coach 12 people spread over 4 classes over 12 months, ultimately to join the company directly. We succeeded in that setup."

That sounds like an impressive achievement! What makes Quuks unique compared to other companies offering similar services?

"I find it difficult to comment on competitors because I prefer to focus on our own service. However, Quuks has ensured that the topic is back on everyone's agenda by organizing events like The Future of Cobol and Mainframe at the CWI on January 18, 2024. Quuks goes beyond current vacancies, emphasizing knowledge development and sharing in the sector, including through event organization. The need is there; now it's a matter of turning that need into concrete demand."

How is technology around Cobol and mainframes evolving, and how does Quuks adapt to these changes?

"Cobol continues to adapt to the latest developments and will always ensure it can connect with any innovation, so Cobol follows the developments. Mainframes, on the other hand, differ in this regard. Mainframes revolve around computing power and actually dictate market development. IBM is a global leader in quantum computing applications, and Mainframes are the first computers where this is being applied. So, Cobol and Mainframe have an antiquated image, but the reality is quite the opposite. Quuks will play a role in conveying this message to the job market: Mainframe is high-tech, future-proof, and proven technology, and Cobol will continue to play a crucial role in it!"

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about COBOL and mainframe technologies, and how does Quuks try to address these misconceptions?

"Elon Musk has described working as a Cobol developer as 'pure pain'. This doesn't contribute to a positive perception, but it does fit with the general perception; old, needs to be replaced, and a necessary evil. Meanwhile, Cobol has been fulfilling its function for 60 years by ensuring stable, robust, and secure messaging and payment transactions. As mentioned earlier, Mainframe technology is super high-tech. So, there are many misconceptions about Cobol and Mainframe that I'd like to dispel by letting people experience what it means in practice."

Can you give an example of the types of companies and/or industries relevant to Quuks' services, and why?

"The following sectors have traditionally been active with Cobol and Mainframe: the financial sector, particularly banks and insurers, and governments processing large numbers of transactions, such as the Tax Authorities, the UWV, and the Social Security Bank. Airlines and some large corporate environments, such as Tata Steel and DAF Trucks, also traditionally use Cobol and Mainframe systems. In fact, we discover new parties every week where these technologies are still in use but haven't posted vacancies for years."

How do you see the future of Cobol and mainframe technologies? Will they continue to exist and remain relevant in the coming years?

"The answer is simply yes, for the next 10 years, because that's the average time it takes to move away from Cobol and Mainframe. Many organizations don't have that ambition in the short term, so the use will continue. Additionally, Mainframe claims a place in the discussion about cloud computing and where organizations store their data. I predict that organizations that have previously transitioned away from Mainframe will return, but also that new players will emerge, creating a hybrid model where some work is done in the cloud and some locally on Mainframe. And for that, Cobol developers will be needed again, so the future looks very bright for Cobol developers."

What is the future vision of Quuks, and what steps are being taken to achieve it?

"Quuks has ambitious plans and aims to be the go-to place for the new generation of Cobol and Mainframe specialists. We started in the Netherlands, where there's already a lot of work to be done, but international interest is growing because the challenges we face here are global. Right now, we're mainly focused on promoting our services and need to gain the trust of clients. We're a startup, a newcomer, and we operate in a world of established players, so that's certainly a short-term challenge. We aim to be a reliable supplier, but we often encounter framework agreements. We need to find a way to deal with that. However, Quuks' principle remains the same: we ensure continuity and stability in Cobol/Mainframe environments by delivering new talents."

Thank you for sharing your insights, Matthijs. Before we close, do you have a message for beginners and professionals interested in this field?

"Cobol offers an excellent start to a career in IT. It's a relatively easy language to learn, and because it's a so-called linguistic programming language, it's also very suitable for beginners. If you enjoy solving puzzles and are looking for a career with future prospects, good rewards, and stability, then Quuks is the right place for you. You can already get started voluntarily via IBM's ZXplore on Quuks' website to see if it's something for you."

Thank you, Matthijs, for your time, and we look forward to all the exciting developments that both Quuks and you will experience in the coming time. If readers would like to contact you, how can they best reach you and Quuks?

By phone or email, we are very reachable and you can find a lot on our website.

Dear reader,

We are now concluding this section. I trust that my introduction to Quuks has provided you with a good understanding of the company and its history. While the past offers insight, it is the future that inspires us. I will continue to keep you informed about our developments. Please feel free to ask any questions; you can reach me via email or phone. My contact information can be found at www.quuks.nl / www.quuks.com.

We also encourage you to watch the video below for an even clearer picture of Quuks and the market in which it operates.