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Spotlight on Our Community

Destination z members discuss what the mainframe community means to them

7/13/2016 12:30:56 AM | Five years, 6,000-plus members, 293 forum posts, and 206 articles is a lot to celebrate. At Destination z we’ve decided to commemorate our fifth anniversary by turning to the community that makes up our core to see what the site and the mainframe community as a whole brings to its members.

To this end, we asked members a few questions about Destination z and the community and what importance it has to them. You can read the answers below and an interview between Reg Harbeck, host of the new IBM Systems Magazine monthly podcast, zTalk, and Norman Hollander about what community means to him. Hear Hollander’s response by clicking the orange play button. Visit the zTalk page for more conversations with members of the mainframe community.



MARC SMITH

Position in relation to z Systems: I am a retired mainframe bigot. OK, maybe just retired, still a mainframe bigot. I spent 29 of my 33 years with IBM working on mainframe products in roles including project management on VM/HPO and VM/ESA, running Early Support Programs for VM, S/390, IBM z Systems, VM and VSE marketing and channel enablement for z business partners.. I also worked as a university ambassador for the z Systems Academic Initiative recruiting colleges to teach mainframe topics. Finally, I was on the team that created Destination z 1.0, which rolled out in 2007, and became the project manager, promoter and recruiter for the organization.

With the realization that the Dz community could not grow unless the website was moved off of IBM.com, I negotiated on behalf of IBM with MSP Tech Media to pick up responsibility for the community and its website (Destination z 2.0). I managed the organization with the MSP team until my retirement in August of 2012. It has been 5 years since I handed the reins to the MSP team, who have expanded the organization beyond just business partner members, to a worldwide community open to anyone who works on and/or are learning about the mainframe, including those who have reluctantly moved on from the platform, but love it just the same.

Mainframe community activity: Though retired from IBM and working to build a startup company, I continue to volunteer at local middle school, high school and colleges to discuss IBM mainframe technologies and presence in industry at guest lectures (using “IT’s Best Kept Secret” presentation) and at career fairs or STEM events. Last year I attended the VM Workshop in Binghamton, New York, to present an update on the IBM Academic Initiative for z System with a discussion on the role Destination z plays as a learning resource and a scholarship program I started before my retirement.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: Destination z was built out of the need to demonstrate to customer executives that the pundits, competitors and magazines that continued to tout the demise of the mainframe were in error. Our goal was to show that there is in fact a community—almost a culture—around the mainframe that represents deep skills in regards to the businesses the platform is used in and the people who work around them. Destination z’s growth is indicative of the breadth of the community, providing a common online place for members to be reassured that they are far from alone in their jobs, learning, and love for the platform.

What is your favorite aspect of the site:
As a charter member and creator of the community website, my favorite characteristics include the home page, quick access to Partner Members, and the annual scholarship program. I’d like to see the scholarship program grow beyond IBM and Business Partner contributions to include mainframe client contributions. Imagine how many students we can help to love the mainframe and take those ever increasing number of jobs that the aging workforce is beginning to leave.

BRYANT PANYARACHUN

Position in relation to z Systems: I serve as an IMS Connectivity Software Engineer.

Mainframe community activity: I am a member of the IBM Generation z North America Focal.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: The community aspect mentality is especially important because it helps to create an environment where thoughts and ideas can be shared and a feeling that one is supported and has a community to turn to for anything around IBM z. Community support and collaboration is a key contributor to the progression and lifespan of any type of project or idea and the community aspect mentality is needed to achieve that.

What is the value of Destination z: For me, Destination z gives me a broader view of IBM z and keeps me up to date on new activities and ideas around z. I especially enjoy reading the blog posts and seeing others’ views and ideas around z.

REG HARBECK

Position in relation to z Systems: I have worked as a systems programmer, mainframe security specialist, manager of Canadian Mainframe Presales and Services for CA, solution owner for all of CA’s Global Mainframe Services, product manager for CA’s Mainframe Strategy, and currently chief strategist (and co-founder) for Mainframe Analytics Ltd.

Mainframe community activity: I’ve been a member on the SHARE Board, I am active in SHARE security and zNextGen projects, I’ve written numerous articles and blogs for mainframe publications and websites, I’ve presented to mainframe audiences around the world (traveling to every continent but Antarctica—so far), and I’ve participated in many local mainframe and computing security user groups, especially in Canada.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: The mainframe emerged from the community and culture that still sustains it. It is more than a mere computing technology—it is the people that have made it, and continue to make it, the historically best business computing platform ever. While the IBM z platform runs the world economy, it does it with only about 10,000 mainframes and fewer than 4,000 organizations, each with a handful of expert mainframers. These few thousand people are a critically important community to the health of the entire world economy, even though invisible to nearly everyone in it, and need to stay in touch with each other to support, encourage, affirm and grow our capacity to operate this most important platform.

What is the value of Destination z: It is a great place for people to stay connected with the people, culture, historical context and technology of the mainframe and to stay current with the latest news and views relevant to this great ecosystem.

CAMERON SEAY

Position in relation to z Systems: I’m a professor at North Caroline A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. I teach an introduction to mainframe course (grad/undergrad), a z/VM course, and intermediate and advanced mainframe course.

Mainframe community activity: I regularly attend SHARE, the Enterprise Computing Community (ECC) conference at Marist College, the VM Workshop (though not this year), and zCouncil meetings in New Jersey and North Carolina. I’m active in the general mainframe academic community, a founding member of the ECC, a founder of the Enterprise Computing Consortium and a founding member of the Open Mainframe Project. I also teach mainframe courses at Alcorn State University and Tennessee State University, and currently I’m working on designing a curriculum for St. Augustine's University.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: As an evangelist for inclusion of System in university and high school curricula, I aggressively promote the use of Linux on z Systems, which I feel is the future of the platform.
What is your favorite aspect of the site: Destination z's focus on newcomers to the platform is extremely valuable. They provide a forum for newbies and give them a substantive introduction to the platform.

PACKY LAVERTY

Position in relation to z Systems: I work both as the professor of Computer Information Systems and the z Systems coordinator at Robert Morris University. My role at the university includes designing undergraduate and graduate z Systems on-ground and online curriculum and working as a instructional design specialist in topics such as z/OS, Linux on z Systems, COBOL, VSAM, DB2, CICS and enterprise security. I’m also a Academic Initiative Consultant and a researcher and presenter at IACIS (International Association for Computer Information Systems), EDSIG (Information Systems and Computing Education), ECC (Marist College Enterprise Computing Conference), EEC (Enterprise Educator Conference (IBM AI)), and GSE (Guide Share Europe.) Relevant research interests of mine include: z Systems curriculum design, z Systems, cyber security and forensic entry-level recruitment, cloud computing architecture and economic analysis, OpenStack, SDN and secure application design

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: The organizational, academic, recruiting and marketing structure of IBM embraces many technologies. Within z Systems there are also many types of stakeholders such as customers, z professionals, faculty, trainers, students and trainees. Even though all z Systems stakeholders share a common technology discipline, each type of stakeholder, industry or academic institution will have its individual objectives, priorities, opportunities or constraints. Therefore, Destination z provides a community forum that will focus on z Systems technologies and will also provide a network and collaborative opportunities for all stakeholders.

What is your favorite aspect of the site: Destination z provides videos of professional and partner insights and visions of individuals whom I’ve met at SHARE, GSE, ECC and other conferences. As a z Systems undergraduate and graduate faculty member, I am able to share their personal experiences and visions with students. With increased awareness, Destination z provides a platform that can be organized and improved to attract all levels of students and faculty engaged in other complimentary and related disciplines. This Destination z opportunity will provided increased entry-level opportunities for students as well as improving the quality of z Systems career candidates beyond current academic programs.

WARREN HARPER

Position in relation to z Systems: I work as a product developer.

Mainframe community activity: I attend SHARE conferences and volunteer for the zNextGen project to help and give back to the community.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: Among myriad other reasons, since failure on this platform is essentially not an option, it's extremely important for the entire ecosystem to learn from it when it does happen. "Only a fool learns from his own mistakes."

What is your favorite aspect of the site: The Member Spotlight is my favorite part. It's always fascinating to learn more about the people who help build up— and continue to run—the mainframe platform.

TROY CRUTCHER

Position in relation to z Systems:
I serve as a member of the IBM z Systems Academic Initiative.

Mainframe community activity: My key role in the community is as the IBM Master the Mainframe contest project manager.

Importance of a community aspect mentality around IBM z: It’s very important to have a site where we can all connect as a community—which is what we are. Having a place to collaborate and share new ideas is vital to the mainframe community. All aspects of the community get a voice including new hires, educators, Academic Initiative members, clients, business partners, etc. Destination z gives us a place to meet and get to know new members in the industry.

What is the value of Destination z:
I love having a place where all of us in the z Systems community can connect. We get the latest news, the best updates, and get to see the newest members of our community by featuring the members.

Share Your Story

Meet other members of the community in our Member Spotlight. We are always adding and looking for new people to feature and share their story with the community. Share your story here and attach a digital image of yourself if you would like to be featured in our Member Spotlight.

Cory Witt is an intern at Destination z.

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