Stories by Robert L. Mitchell

Brain drain: Where Cobol systems go from here

David Brown is worried. As managing director of the IT transformation group at Bank of New York Mellon, he is responsible for the health and welfare of 112,500 Cobol programs -- 343 million lines of code -- that run core banking and other operations. But many of the people who built that code base, some of which dates back to Cobol's early days in the 1960s, will be retiring over the next several years.

The Grill: TASC CIO Barbie Bigelow

After spinning off from Northrop Grumman in 2009, TASC had one year to establish itself as an independent company. That meant the 6,000-employee systems engineering operation needed to deploy a new IT infrastructure. In overseeing that effort, TASC CIO Barbie Bigelow built an IT organization and infrastructure from scratch. Her team spent about eight months working with 64 vendors and partners to design and build an operation that included a new ERP system, more than 4,000 computers, 800 mobile devices, 400 network devices and 134 data circuits across 60 facilities -- and they did it in six weeks. Here, Bigelow discusses the failures and successes that the team experienced as they pursued the aggressive schedule, and she reflects on how TASC's IT unit has evolved.

The Grill: Arthur Langer turns the IT education model on its head

Arthur M. Langer is chairman and founder of Workforce Opportunity Services, a nonprofit that uses an outsourcing model to train economically disadvantaged youth and match them with hard-to-fill IT positions. Langer's "skills first" approach stresses getting vocational training and a job upfront, and then gradually fulfilling general education requirements part time to finish a degree in five to six years -- leaving students with no debt. And since many families today can't afford the cost of college tuition, Langer's model is one that could have much broader appeal.

Essential browser tools for Web developers

Out of the thousands of cool add-ons out there for Firefox, Chrome and other popular Web browsers, only a select few make it onto the desktops of professional Web developers and designers. Which are the most useful for the day-to-day work of designing and developing websites?

Brain drain: Where Cobol systems go from here

David Brown is worried. As managing director of the IT transformation group at Bank of New York Mellon, he is responsible for the health and welfare of 112,500 Cobol programs -- 343 million lines of code -- that run core banking and other operations. But many of the people who built that code base, some of which goes back to the early days of Cobol in the 1960s, will be retiring over the next several years.

Integration in the Cloud

Just two weeks after Mohawk Fine Papers made the decision to sell its products on Amazon.com, things were looking good for the company: Integration work was complete, connections to its ERP system had lit up and sales were rolling in. "Amazon generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue immediately," says Paul Stamas, vice president of IT at the $300 million, 725-employee manufacturer of premium papers.

Best practices for scaling up SaaS

Guardian Life Insurance isn't about to take big risks when making IT investments, and CIO Frank Wander will be the first to tell you that he doesn't have a cloud computing strategy, per se.

The Grill: Catherine P. Bessant

Two years ago, Catherine P. Bessant was tapped to lead Bank of America's Global Technology and Operations (GT&O) group, which has more than 100,000 staffers and contractors in 40 countries. Here Bessant talks about leading a tech group that includes five CIOs as direct reports, the importance of employee diversity, and how relying too much on third parties for IT services can backfire.

Mohawk Fine Papers builds integration-in-the-cloud

Just two weeks after Mohawk Fine Papers made the decision to sell its products on Amazon.com, integration work was complete, connections to its ERP system lit up and sales started rolling in. "Amazon generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue immediately," says <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/344513/Paul_Stamas_vice_president_of_IT_Mohawk_Fine_Papers">Paul Stamas</a>, vice president of IT at the $83 million, 725-employee manufacturer of premium papers.

The grill: Greg Schwartz

As CIO at USAA, Greg Schwartz oversees technologies that help the company deliver financial services to its core customers: members of the military and their families. Here Schwartz talks about how mobile is redefining the business, how increased regulation has refocused IT resources, and how USAA is engaging customers through social media.

NBC Universal: Retired or recycled 47 tons of hardware

NBC Universal had no room to expand its West Coast data center, located on the Universal City lot in Los Angeles. So Dan Johnson, senior vice president of platform technology, and his team recycled it. The data center refurbishing project, which CIO Christopher Furst refers to as "converting a brownfield," virtualized 60% of the physical servers and shut down 2,000 physical machines.