A Youth Movement For IBM i Champions
March 1, 2017 Alex Woodie
Don’t look now, but there’s a veritable youth movement afoot in IBM i land. While the platform may not be turning heads on college campuses just yet, it received a vigorous shot in the arm when IBM named relative youngsters Liam Allan and Kody Robinson to the latest crop of Champions for Power.
The IBM i platform may appear to outsiders as a stodgy old platform maintained by graying men and women on the brink of retirement. But for those on the inside and in the know, there’s an understanding that sophisticated software never gets old and never goes out of style. And the IBM i OS and associated Power firmware that make the magic happen is nothing if not sophisticated.
Allan, who is just 19 years old, understands that. “I think the system is already cool. Amazing, even,” the UK native tells IT Jungle via email. “I do love promoting a system that I use every day though. It feels amazing and I couldn’t be happier really.”
Since splashing onto the IBM i scene at last year’s COMMON conference in New Orleans, where he won a Student Innovation Award, Allan hasn’t looked back. Now as an employee of Profound Logic, the programmer has big plans to use his newfound fame as a Champion for Power (really, an IBM i Champion) to evangelize for the platform, and specifically to push the use of open source technologies.
“2016 was so far, the best year of my life,” Allan writes on his blog, Works of Barry. “New job, lots of travelling and lots of new friends. I am so happy to continue contributing and helping others learn.”
Allan brings a certain element of youthful enthusiasm that is often lacking among those who have worked on the platform for 20, 30, or 40 years (reaching back into S/3x archives). Let’s hope some of that enthusiasm rubs off on those Allan interacts with. So far, that appears to be the plan.
“While I hope it [being named a Champion] will help me, the plan is to use it to reach others wanting to learn more about the platform,” Allan says. “I will learn more in the next year than ever before, I think.”
Credit IBM and Profound Logic for seeing past Allan’s age and recognizing his talents. While most 19-year-olds are working entry-level jobs or studying in college, Allan has embraced the life of a working programmer and dedicated himself to promoting an esoteric, obscure computer platform that nevertheless commands fierce loyalty by those who know it.
While the IBM i still has those proprietary bits, Allan has big plans to push the use of open source software, like Node.js, PHP, GitHub, and BitBucket. “I am embracing [the platform] by putting more time into some of my open-source stuff,” he says. “I want to give back to the community for being given this opportunity.”
At 24, Kody Robinson isn’t much older than Allan. But the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. programmer shares an affinity for using open source technology with IBM i, and for spreading the word about the platform.
“I was shocked” at being named an IBM Champion for Power, Robinson says via email. “I know that I could be a champion within a few more years, but never only being 24 years old.”
Don’t expect Robinson, who received a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from the University of Arkansas at Monticello in 2014, to let the newfound fame of being named an IBM Champion go to his head.
“My only plans as of now are to continue providing reliable, affordable, and responsible solutions to internal clients and our member coops around the great state of Arkansas,” he says.
However, you can expect to see and hear Robinson promoting the platform at more industry events and via social media and blogs. “A champion should always be advocating for the platform,” he says. “I plan to blog and speak more at conferences for sure, though.”
If Robinson has a cause to champion, it’s modernization. “Everyone needs to start modernizing and bringing in Web apps,” he says. “IBM has made it pretty easy to make Web apps off of the IBM i and it’s our job to leverage that technology to provide solutions to our customers.”
Robinson and Allan weren’t the only new IBM Champions for Power from the IBM i community for 2017. Richie Palma, a tech solutions consultant who works with IBM i and AIX technology with Arbor Solutions of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was also named an IBM Champion for Power for the first time.
In addition to Robinson, Allan, and Palma, the list of 2017 IBM i Champions (an unofficial title, to be sure) includes a number of returning champions:
- Aaron Bartell – KrengelTech, Minnesota
- Jim Buck – Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin
- Shrirang “Ranga” Deshpande – COMMON Belgium
- Cynthia Fortlage – GHY International, Canada
- Susan Gantner – System i Developer, Canada
- Tom Huntington – HelpSystems, Minnesota
- Christian Massé – Volubis, France
- Pete Massiello – iTech Solutions, Connecticut
- Jon Paris – System i Developer, Canada
- Michael Pavlak – Zend Technology, California
- Trevor Perry – Fresche, New York
- Steve Pitcher – Scotsburn Dairy, Canada
- Paul Tuohy – System i Developer, Canada
In total, IBM there are 41 Champions for Power, with 14 new and 27 returning Champions. You can see the full list at IBM’s DeveloperWorks website.