COVID-19 Response: Manta Cuts Training Prices, Offers Freebies
April 20, 2020 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Everybody is doing their part to try to cushion the blow of the coronavirus outbreak and also to stay in business themselves. It’s a delicate balance, and one that we are all trying to manage.
Manta Technologies, which has been providing IBM i training for nearly the past three decades and online training for other platforms for more than four decades now, is doing its part. For nearly 20 years now, Manta’s library of more than 130 IBM i courses has been available online, and people all over the world use it to brush up on existing skills and to learn new ones. But that is not sufficient given the nature of the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
So Bill Hansen, the founder and owner of Manta, is doing a few things. For the past 26 years, as readers of The Four Hundred well know, the company has had a summer sale in the month of August – not exactly a busy time in the IBM midrange historically – on individual courses, course series, and various combination packs and the complete IBM i training library – giving customers a 25 percent discount. (The library already has various volume discounts built in, so as you use more courses and train more people, the per unit per person costs go down. This 25 percent discount is in addition to those volume discounts.) With the economies stalling around the world, Manta kicked off its summer discounts on April 17, three and a half months early. And Hansen is committing to keep those discounts in effect until August 31, just like always.
Second, and this affects mainframe shops more than IBM i shops, but Manta has seen an uptick in licensing of its COBOL Programming series, and the exact cause is not known but it probably has to do with the shortages in COBOL programmers in financial services, insurance, and healthcare companies. Hansen is not sure if this demand is being directly driven by the pandemic and the software updates that are being required or just the increasing shortages of skilled COBOL programmers that everyone has been expecting, but Manta is giving away its COBOL Programming series to hospitals and government agencies (regional, state, and national) at their request. There is some verification that needs to be done, of course.
And finally, for those in the IBM i community who have been furloughed or unemployed due to the pandemic, or just want to learn new skills as they are working from home, Manta is offering free training on all IBM i topics until this crisis is over. Manta warns that depending on how much demand there is, Manta may have to ration the number of courses available at any given time to each student. (We suspect there will be a lot more demand than anyone might expect. Like the Payroll Protection Program that is part of the CARES Act, which ran out of $349 billion in less than a week. And like many of your companies if you have 500 employees or less, we are waiting in line, too.)
One last thing. The sister company of Manta, called Hansen Training Systems, created a system simulator that is embedded in its courseware called EasyTutor. Now that there is no more competition in self-study training in the IBM i market, and given the immediate need for Web-based training, Hansen is opening up EasyTutor so anyone can create more online courses and increase the amount of content in the world, IBM i or otherwise.
“As a get acquainted special, HTS is announcing a deal for instructors and conference speakers who would like to make their presentations available online,” says Hansen. “Give us a copy of your PowerPoint file and an audio recording of your presentation, and we will make it available online within days, typically for less than $1,000 per hour of content. During this special, all hosting fees will be waived for six months.”