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May 24, 1997


'Net, the employment future'

Our Correspondent in Bangalore

A survey conducted by Business Line suggests that the Internet and associated tools will take control of computer operations in a few years. And employment too will move towards web-oriented work.

Nearly 80 of the 100 CEOs who figured on the survey about the future of the Indian software employment scenario, felt the industry would move away from proprietary and complex mainframes to the ubiquitous languages of the web - Javascript, ActiveX, CGI and PERL.

They felt the Internet would draw many away from work on the IBM mainframes except for those involved in maintenance.

I Chandrasekhar Rao, CEO of International Webcomerz India Ltd, pointed out that in the US alone about 400,000 engineers would be needed to work on on the Internet and intranets since most corporates there were moving to intranets in a big way. This called for expertise in TCP/IP and Internet protocols, Unix or Windows NT administration and setting up and maintenance of large databases, Java, hypertext, markup language, and its extensions - Javascript, CGI and ActiveX, and support languages like Perl.

Learning all this would take its toll since it wasn't as easy as picking up mainframe management or converting dates in a few lines of code, he said.

"You keep earning revenues as long as the Internet exists. And the Internet is going to be there; it's immortal," Rao said.

Venkat Rao, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs, VisualSoft (India) Ltd said many institutes, especially in Hyderabad, were training students about IBM mainframes since there was great demand for manpower to correct the problems that could result from computers going from the year 99 to 00 in the year 2000.

Venkat Rao pointed out that even after spending a lot of money, the students did not necessarily get jobs on mainframe platforms. He felt a move to Internet/intranets would be appropriate since that appeared to be the future.

But other CEOs pointed out that even after the year 2000 problem was dealt with, another problem, regarding the conversion of all European currency into one common unit, might be round the corner. This, they say, will keep those used to IBM mainframes in the business for longer - maybe five to ten years.

Vikram D Reddy, CEO of the California-based GlobeSoft Corp feels small, manageable Java applets are going to revolutionise the Web in the near future. He pointed out that there were a wide range of products coming out for the Net, many of them Java-based applications. Therefore, he felt, Java offered better opportunities for employment, especially since it was almost platform-independent.

"Java and the Net appear to be long-standing technologies... If all companies start converting their products to Java source code, it is going to be another revenue-earning opportunity for Indian companies, he said.

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