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Member Spotlight

Service Owner - Mainframe

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Years in IT—

My first mainframe job—

Mainframe Computer Operator at I.P. Sharp Associates, 1985

My favorite mainframe attribute or memory—
I took the job as a nightshift computer operator in a shop running IBM 3090s in October 1985. I was in my early 20s and I had just seen the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman" with Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton—the story of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, who sold US security secrets to the Soviet Union in the mid-70s. It was the mid-80s, and this is what I wanted to do (not the selling secrets part though). I was in my early 20s, I needed something that provided more of a future than bartending and managing restaurants.

So I got a job at I.P. Sharp Associates, a Canadian computer timesharing and consulting firm that was particularly well known for its work with the APL programming language, an early packet switching network called IPSANET and a powerful mainframe-based email system called 666 BOX (to my knowledge the only email system where you could ‘recall’ an email at any time). I.P. Sharp had a division called PROMIS systems that designed the specification for semi-conductors for some of the major American defense contractors.

My mainframe experience started with a diverse group of retired philosophy scholars, Actuaries, single moms, ex-highway workers and musicians, releasing batch jobs, printer room work and running backups on 3420 and 3480 IBM tapes. I.P. Sharp had a very liberal and unconventional hiring practice: They wanted people without any computer experience that thought ‘outside the box.’ I.P. Sharp was bought by Reuters in 1987; I was there for 20 years. The final decade I ran an international infrastructure and data change management process.

Fast forward to 2015, I had spent a decade getting into the Service Management aspect of IT, working for various government agencies and contracting for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

I’m now the Service Owner for Mainframe Shared Services at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto. Our zSeries mainframes are outsourced to HP—and have been so for over 20 years. One of my roles here at our bank is "evangelizing" the mainframe capabilities and role in the future of outsourced cloud-based IT strategies. I’m hoping this user community will be a resource for Service Management related principles, artifacts and best practices.

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