IBM Power Champions: Showing Passion For The Platform
February 7, 2018 Alex Woodie
Having a job working on the IBM i-Power Systems platform isn’t easy. Compared to the vast Intel X86 ecosystem, IBM i folks make up a tiny, oft-overlooked minority. That’s one reason why it’s so important to have strong and passionate leaders that the wider installed based can look up to. Along that vein, last week IBM unveiled its 2018 class of Power Systems Champions, which includes a good number of passionate IBM i types.
IBM named 60 Power Systems Champions for 2018. Out of those 60 Champions, 22 are new to the program, while 38 are returning. Twenty-six of the 2018 Power Systems Champions work primarily on the IBM i side of the Power house, while the rest work with AIX, Linux, storage, or IBM’s Power-based high performance computing (HPC) business. You can view the entire list – which includes hundreds of Champions across various categories – at this IBM developerWorks link.
If you’ve been following the Power Champions program for a while, you’ll notice a lot of familiar names on the IBM i side of the house for 2018, In fact, there were no newly named IBM Champions for Power Systems with an IBM i focus this year, according to a list of 2018 IBM Champions for Power Systems provided to IT Jungle by Brandon Pederson, who manages the IBM Champion program for Power Systems.
The full list of Power Systems Champions for IBM i, according to Pederson’s list, includes:
- Liam Allan of Profound Logic
- Torbjörn Appehl of Arcad Software
- Aaron Bartell of KrengelTech
- Jim Buck from imPower Technologies
- Lionel Clavien of InnoBoost
- Shrirang “Ranga” Deshpande from COMMON Europe
- Koen Decourte from CD Invest
- Roberto De Pedrini of Nextev
- Susan Gantner from Partner400
- Bart Grabowski of DHL
- Midori Hosomi of iGUAZU
- Tom Huntington from HelpSystems
- Scott Klement of Profound Logic
- Pete Massiello of iTech Solutions Group
- Christian Massé of VOLUBIS
- Richie Palma of Arbor Solutions
- Mike Pavlak of Fresche Solutions
- Jon Paris from Partner400
- Trevor Perry from Fresche Solutions
- Steve Pitcher of iTech Solutions Group
- Kody Robinson from Arkansas Electric Coop. Corp.
- Alan Seiden of Seiden Group
- Paul Tuohy from ComCon
- Laura Ubelhor of Consultech Services
- Jeroen Van Lommel of TransLine
- Carol Woodbury, HelpSystems
While their day jobs vary, the IBM Power Systems Champion are united in their commitment to the platform. Massiello, now in is in his eighth go-round as an IBM Champion, says the role of being Power Systems Champion hasn’t changed much over the years. That includes bringing passion for the platform to work every day.
“Being an IBM Champion is more a state of mind than a position,” Massiello tells IT Jungle. “It isn’t related to specific events or activities nor do we perform various acts. I believe it to be about the passion we have for the platform, not just within ourselves, but in our ability to evoke that response in others.”
If you’ve ever met Massiello, you’d realize that his dedication to the IBM i platform is as solid as his handshake. As the head of the IBM business partner iTech Solutions, Massiello has many opportunities over the course of his daily work to promote the platform, which he does.
“Of course, being an IBM Champion is a tremendous honor,” he says. “However, spreading the word about IBM i is integral to my normal everyday job and comes naturally. We don’t have official responsibilities or requirements from IBM other than to bring our commitment to the platform into the public eye and combine this advocacy with a willingness to help others.”
Trevor Perry, who’s an outspoken supporter of the idea of a unified Power Systems platform, says one of the reasons a Power professional is recognized as an IBM Champion is the platform awareness they can spread. “IBM encourages us and provides relevant information for us to be able to promote IBM i and Power,” Perry says. ”
“What I am doing is a ton! Arguing with people on LinkedIn, using the platform I have as a speaker to promote awareness, to encourage community members to also promote awareness, to provide links and materials, etc.,” he says. “I created a session called ‘Introduction to IBM i’ that was well received. People need to know the basics, and it is a great pitch for awareness of IBM i.”
Perry isn’t shy about sharing his feelings about the platform, which is one of the reasons he’s a Champion. He’s also not afraid to hold IBM’s feet to the fire about how it promotes the IBM i platform.
“IBM is promoting the platform, but their focus is Power,” he says. “Fortunately, IBM i is a strong part of Power, so we get some awareness of IBM i from IBM to the community. But, the executives at IBM continue to ignore IBM i, or discount it, or speak about IBM i like it is not the best business platform. Above the IBM i team in IBM, there is not enough awareness and promotion, IMHO, which means, the IBM i team inside IBM is fighting an uphill battle to promote the platform.
Perry pointed to the IBM i brain trust in Rochester, Minnesota — Alison Butterill, Steve Will, Scott Forstie, Jesse Gorzinski, Simon Porstendorfer, Dawn May, and Steve Finnes – as unspoken Champions of the platform. “They are definitely promoting platform awareness for IBM i.”
Jim Buck says he strives to showcase positive aspects of the IBM i server to folks who may not be aware of it. “I try to promote the system through with my company and LinkedIn connections, Twitter (@Jbuck_imPower),” he says. ” I try to be an ambassador by showing people the dependability and cool things the system can do… even traditional languages like RPG has a place.”
Steve Pitcher has a unique perspective on the IBM Champion program, since he was first a Champion for collaboration solutions before becoming a Power Champion. As a big backer of the IBM i platform, Pitcher works to get the message through, often with the assistance of IBM.
“I think awareness is very important,” says Pitcher, who works with Massiello at iTech Solutions and is also a director at COMMON and an editor at MCPressOnline. “The more IBM i is in the periphery of a customer the better and I think we’re a part of that. Getting information out there and cutting through all the information overload noise is a challenge because everyone is so busy. As long as we have a consistent stream in terms of messaging then it tends to get picked up.”
“IBM Champions have a great relationship with IBM and they’re a willing dance partner in terms of giving and receiving feedback and information. I’ve been an IBM Champion since 2011 and that’s always been the real value of the program.
Cynthia Fortlage has also been an IBM Champion since the program’s inception. As CIO of GHY International, Fortlage has been an advocate for the IBM i platform within her own shop, as well as the community at large.
“There are many opportunities now to connect with other champions and leverage what we all do for the betterment of our community,” she says. “An example is Champion day at COMMON that is a more recent addition to connect and leverage each other with the community.”
Fortlage enjoys sharing stories and insights about the platform that can help to support the brand, the platform, and the operating system. But being a Champion also affords her the opportunity to learn from others as well. “The world is changing quickly,” she says.
Massiello agrees that Champions are conduits for information, but says the information doesn’t always flow downhill from IBM into the ears of the masses. Sometimes, Champions help the information flow up from the installed base to where it needs to be in the IBM company.
“A Champion doesn’t just talk to the community to raise awareness,” Massiello says. “We equally listen to our community. We keep our fingers on the heartbeat of the industry. . . . We understand what people are doing to drive business, how employees are using technology, what the positives and the negatives are. . . . By being involved with our peers we are able to bring necessary information back to IBM.
“Being a Champion means we represent people in the community,” Massiello continues. “Together and individually we work tirelessly to ensure voices are heard loud and clear by IBM and the myriad businesses that depend on this technology to thrive. IBM is a good partner in this endeavor as they provide us with substantial amounts of information while also listening to the requirements and concerns of the community that we bring to their attention. We all want to work together in order to elevate the platform to the next levels of success.”
This article has been corrected. IBM named 60 IBM Champions for Power Systems for 2018, not 39. Jerry Petru and Midori Hosomi are still IBM Champions, as are several other people that we originally omitted. IT Jungle regrets the errors.