A Guide To This Week’s Virtual POWERUp 2020
September 14, 2020 Alex Woodie
Sidelined by the COVID-19 epidemic, POWERUp 2020 takes flight today as a virtual conference. COMMON, which is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, has put together hundreds of sessions over the next four days to help its IBM i user base get the latest out of IBM technology. And with many sessions taking place live, there will be lots of chances to go one-on-one.
In a typical year, POWERUp would be the biggest event on the IBM i schedule, a place to meet a thousand of your closest IBM i friends and get up-to-speed with the latest tech from IBM and the wider IBM i ecosystem.
But, of course, 2020 is no regular year. COMMON already has been forced to cancel two of its in-person conferences. That includes the original POWERUp 2020 conference scheduled for April in Atlanta, Georgia, which it canceled in late March, as well as the rescheduled POWERUp 2020 event that it had scheduled to take place August 31 through September 4 in Tampa, Florida, which it canceled in early August.
Rather than try to plan around a tyrannical virus, COMMON decided that enough was enough, and that the show must go on – but this time as a fully virtual event. The good news is that by putting it online, COMMON can potentially reach a much larger audience of IBM i (and some AIX and Power Linux) users than if they had to venture to the southern United States to partake of the training, education, and networking opportunities.
A considerable amount of planning went into this week’s virtual conference, says COMMON president Larry Bolhuis. “Planning for a virtual event is a lot more detail-oriented than for a physical event, especially one at this scale,” he tells IT Jungle via email. “We wanted to make sure it had the similar footprint as what attendees would expect of an in-person POWERUp event.”
Just getting all of the sessions submitted on time and adhering to the constraints of a virtual delivery mechanism was quite a bit of work, Bolhuis says. “Then you add in the complexity and time to upload the sessions to conference software platform, and it gets pretty deep and time-intensive,” he says. “But, we’re really happy about the quality and level of POWERUp that we’re delivering to our attendees and vendor partners. We have really built an immersive conference experience that ensures delivery of the best that our in-person POWERUp events offer.”
Judging from this week’s POWERUp schedule (which you can view at www.common.org), IBM i professionals can expect the same sort of high-quality education and training that they have come to expect from COMMON conferences. Among the sessions that attendees can choose from are:
- 21 sessions on high availability
- 24 sessions on open source
- 25 sessions on security
- 34 sessions on the database
- 41 sessions on application development
- 46 sessions on systems management
Just like the in-person event, COMMON will start up the show with an opening session at 7 a.m. PST on Monday. After that, the sessions kick into high gear, and continue until 3 p.m. PST, when users can take advantage of a pair of networking events.
Bob Tipton, who is always entertaining, leads things off Tuesday morning with a 7 a.m. PST keynote titled “Healthier Teams Are Higher Performing Teams – Always.” At 10:30 a.m. PST, attendees have a series of lunch and learn (L and L) sessions to pick from. These sessions are offered by vendors, including CNX, Fresche Solutions, RVI, New Generation Software, LANSA, Rocket Software, Midrange Dynamics, and iTech Solutions. COMMON will also be hosting a virtual expo throughout the event.
Wednesday morning brings another 7 a.m. PST keynote, titled “IBM i Wears a Red Hat” by Joe Cropper, a senior technical staff member (or STSM for short) with IBM Cognitive System Hybrid MultiCloud Management. Cropper also holds the title “IBM Master inventor,” so it will be interesting to see what he invents for POWERUp.
There will be a bunch of live Q&A and panel discussions Wednesday. At 10 a.m. PST, attendees will have the choice of peppering IBM software architect Tim Rowe with questions about Java and WebSphere on IBM i, or asking IBM’s RPG guru Barbara Morris and Profound Logic’s Scott Klement about enhancements to RPG.
Wednesday concludes with the 60th birthday celebration of COMMON. There won’t be cake served, unfortunately (unless you supply it yourself, of course). COMMON Director Manzoor Siddiqui leads the celebration and recognition of COMMON volunteers.
There will be another live Q&A panel discussion at 10:30 a.m. PST on Thursday. In the “Git on IBM i” session, several ARCAD Software representatives, including Ray Bernardi, Jeff Ticker, and Scott Heinlein, will be available to answer questions about Git and your favorite operating system.
There are several other panels taking place at that time, including:
- DevOps on the IBM i, featuring several members of the Rocket Software squad.
- Key Steps in Your Digital Transformation Journey, featuring the Fresche Solutions crew.
- Lift and Shift: Real IT Professionals Talk About Building a Foundation for the Future – featuring Donna Westmoreland of Midrange Dynamics North America.
- Power9 Hardware, featuring Pete Massiello and Richie Palma of iTech Solutions.
- Security Discussion with Precisely, featuring several folks from Precisely (formerly Syncsort), as well as two former IBM i security architects, Carol Woodbury (now of DXR Security) and Jeff Uehling (now retired from Precisely), and two current IBM engineers.
- Your IBM i Security Action Plan, featuring folks from HelpSystems.
Having that live element was crucial to delivering the type of event that COMMON envisioned, according to Bolhuis.
“We’ve built in so many face-to-face live sessions throughout the conference, that attendees would be missing out if they didn’t attend those,” he says. “Nowadays it’s far too easy to say ‘I’ll just watch the recording later when I get to it.’ We wanted the opposite experience, which is why with every education module and Lunch-and-Learn session, there is a live, Zoom component. And even for the exhibitors, we wanted to make sure they had more robust resources to allow them to interact with the attendees and create those contacts.”
Thursday morning will kick off with a meeting of the members at 7 a.m. PST. The YIPS (Young IBM i Professionals) will convene at 11:40 a.m. PST. The fun mostly concludes Thursday evening, although there are a few training sessions scheduled for Friday morning.
Even though it starts today, you can still register for COMMON POWERUp 2020. In fact, you can register all week, and watch the pre-recorded sessions (as well as the recorded live sessions) at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. The cost is $995 for COMMON members ($795 with a group registration) and $1,095 for non-COMMON members (the group registration is available only to members).
For more info, see www.common.org.