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Introducing the 2018 IBM i Fresh Faces Class

June 6, 2018

Almost a year ago, I wrote about our first “class” of IBM i Fresh Faces—people who’ve joined the IBM i community in the past few years, typically just out of school. That first group of people have great stories to tell, and now they’re joined by another batch of young professionals who are bringing their enthusiasm and skills to our community.
The brochure produced by IBM Systems Magazine has a fun, intriguing “hook.”

Cool! Machine Learning, Migration and Modernization as the “3Ms” which are part of the stories of the new Fresh Faces. I’ve only met one of the 2018 class so far, but their stories intrigue me.  Let’s look at a few of them.
Frank Sarnelli and Machine Learning

Frank’s story shows that young people can come onto IBM i and quickly get involved in new technology. In Frank’s case, he did what a lot of young technologists do—they learn about cool technology on their own. As Frank says in his story: 
“I realized that machine learning churns massive amounts of data, which is where the IBM i platform excels.”
I’ve talked to many people in the IBM i community about their own enthusiasm for cognitive computing, which includes machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and more. Frank’s experience is similar to others in the sense that he sees a part of these new workloads which fit well on IBM i, and he’s excited by it. What’s even better in Frank’s case is that his employer, LANSA, encouraged it. “My employers got wind that I was learning machine learning on my own and decided it might be innovative to incorporate it into the LANSA product,” he says.
Sameera Wijayasiri and Migration

Wijayasiri.jpgSameera works for a business partner, South Asian Technologies, which serves IBM Power Systems clients. Sameera is involved in helping clients migrate forward from older machines and releases to newer ones. But his company also helps gain clients for IBM i. Here’s part of his story:
“We’ve also been able to win new IBM clients in Sri Lanka by migrating/porting their non-IBM applications to IBM i or AIX without changing their application. That’s the beauty of IBM i—it integrates the latest development technologies such as XML, JSON, Node.js and PHP in every OS release and technology refresh.”
Fresh Faces, and the companies which hire them, are generally more willing to say “i can do it!”  As in “IBM i can do it.” And that is a winning attitude that helps the whole IBM i and Power Systems market.

Leila Soufi and What Modernization Means
Soufi-(1).jpgModernization in one form or another is a common theme for almost all of this class of Fresh Faces. For Leila, modernization is critical because she works in a bank, and the technological requirements in banking constantly change. Modernization has many facets in Svenska Handelsbanken, including examining the possibilities of having IBM i and IBM Watson work together.
But one of the most important messages in Leila’s story is the lesson she’s learned while interacting with other IBM i users.
“Many companies aren’t modernizing or using IBM i because they’re unwilling to change. Even those who love to learn and grow can fall into this mindset. Customers who use IBM i and a modern environment realize how much easier, helpful and effective their work becomes.”  
The infusion of Fresh Faces into the IBM i workforce brings a positive, energetic attitude that helps more experienced people focus on finding new ways to bring value to their customers.
Josh Hall—Building Community

Hall.jpgI met Josh and his team at Seiden Group at a couple of events. As with all of these Fresh Faces, there are many aspects to his story, but the one I want to focus on in this blog is Josh’s initiative in building community. Josh’s boss, Alan Seiden, is a great role model for building and supporting community, as anyone who is involved in the IBM i Open Source Software (#ibmioss) community knows. But Josh also saw a need in his community and addressed it.
“I started an IBM i user group. We’re new, with three core members, sponsored by Seiden Group. ... To help the IBM i community become more accustomed to open source, I educate people about open source principles, benefits and the surprising amount of security that’s available. I also remind customers to contribute back to the community.”

I encourage all of you to take a few minutes to read all the Fresh Faces stories. Each of them gives us even more reason to be sure of the success of our platform.  Together with the amazing skills in our customer base, in the IBM Champions, in our ISVs and Business Partners, and in the IBMers who are working hard on the next steps for IBM i, these Fresh Faces are a reason our IBM i 30th Anniversary slogan says “30 years of innovation, and we’re just getting started.”

Posted June 6, 2018| Permalink