The 2019 IBM Z Champions on the Value of the Platform
We caught up with 17 of the IBM Z Champions to learn how they're funneling their passion to strengthen the platform.
By Holly Eamon07/12/2019
Innovation requires a community effort, and when leaders emerge, IBM takes note. This year, several developers, educators and IT professionals were named IBM Z* Champions for their support of and advocacy for the platform. The designation recognizes their past contributions and creates new opportunities for achievement by increasing their visibility and sphere of influence.
The champions were nominated by their peers not only for their inventive use of Z but also for how they share their knowledge and enthusiasm with others to help sustain its longevity. We talked with 17 of the IBM Z Champions to learn more about how they’re funneling their passion to strengthen the platform.
z/VM specialist and software developer // Velocity Software
Throughout his 40-year mainframe career, two-time IBM Z Champion Rick Barlow has worked almost exclusively with IBM Z. Before becoming responsible for z/VM software and IBM Z hardware at Velocity, he spent the majority of his time using the platform to enable application development and operating system installation, testing, and disaster recovery at a financial institution.
“The dynamic capabilities of the machine—both in dynamic capacity changes and the ability to maintain the physical components without interruption to running workload—are invaluable in providing near 100% availability to businesses,” he says.
Barlow enjoys helping those new to IBM Z understand its unique capabilities. He has volunteered with SHARE for more than 20 years, currently serving as the program manager for its Linux* and VM programs, and actively participates in the IBMVM and LINUX-390 online communities.
Software engineer // Rocket Software
Second-time honoree Kyle Beausoleil began his IBM Z journey across several storage solutions with Rocket Software right out of college in 2013. He recently transitioned to a role using Zowe to build new applications. “One of the things I'm most excited about is creating more ways for IBM Z users to access and analyze their data,” he says. “The next generation of mainframers expects the flexibility of modern APIs, and that’s something Zowe aims to give them.”
Beausoleil also volunteers in the SHARE zNextGen group and attempts to attend every SHARE event he can as well as local Z Customer Council meetings to better understand how the IBM Z community gets their work done.
“One of the things I'm most excited about is creating more ways for IBM Z users to access and analyze their data.”—Kyle Beausoleil, software engineer, Rocket Software
Dr. Philipp Brune
Professor // Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences
Philipp Brune is a business information systems engineering professor at Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences and mainframe computing adjunct professor at Goethe University Frankfurt. He serves as a board member of the Academic Mainframe Consortium e.V., an association dedicated to supporting research and teaching on mainframe-related topics. He helps to administrate Goethe University’s IBM zBC12 for students and research efforts as well as beta testing IBM’s new Hyper Protect Services.
“Most concepts of computer science are linked to or could be explained by studying the mainframe. It’s fascinatingly different from other architectures today,” he says. “Educating students as well as the public about its unique features, history and evolution helps them make better decisions about architecture and platforms.”
Monitoring system engineer // Dutch Tax Office, Netherlands
At the Dutch Tax Office, 25-year mainframe veteran Boudewijn Dekkema applies his IBM Z experience to monitoring the mainframe using OMEGAMON* and SPLUNK, and helping the tooling department administrate ITM and maintain the dashboard for end users within the TEP and the E3270 environment.
In 2018, he formed and—currently serves as chair of—a user group for monitoring within the Guide Share Europe group in Netherlands. “Members and suppliers learn from each other by sharing their experiences, documentation and knowledge,” he says. “The success of our first two sessions proved the need for this group and we have a large backlog of topics to discuss.”
As a first-time champion, Dekkema is looking forward to more networking. “I love talking with people about how we currently work with the mainframe but also about future possibilities and what’s necessary to attract the next generation of mainframers.”
“Members and suppliers learn from each other by sharing their experiences, documentation and knowledge.”—Boudewijn Dekkema, monitoring system engineer, Dutch Tax Office
CEO // iTech-Ed Ltd.
Aside from running iTech-Ed, a mainframe consultancy, analysis and technical authoring organization, Trevor Eddolls chairs the Virtual IMS* and CICS* user groups, and blogs on his personal site as well as for the Destination z and Planet Mainframe sites. He’s also editorial director of the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook.
A former science, math and computing teacher, Eddolls jumped at the chance to join a local computing bureau that hired him as an MVS* operator in 1979. “I have been working on mainframes, training people to use them, or writing and presenting about them ever since,” he says. “I want others to know how versatile, powerful and secure the Z platform is, and for everyone to know how often they use a mainframe in their daily life without realizing it.” This is his 10th year being named an IBM Champion.
“I want others to know how versatile, powerful and secure the Z platform is, and for everyone to know how often they use a mainframe in their daily life without realizing it.”—Trevor Eddolls, CEO, iTech-Ed Ltd.
Frank Fillmore Jr.
Founder and president // The Fillmore Group
Frank Fillmore founded his company as an IBM analytics software consultancy in 1987—nine years after his first job working on the IBM Z platform, maintaining a custom COBOL application for the city of Baltimore. Now, his subject matter experts have worked as enterprise architects, database administrators and project leads for Db2* for z/OS*, Db2 for LUW (including Linux on IBM Z), Db2 for IBM i, and Db2 for VSE and VM, as well as for replication, federation, and governance.
An IBM Champion for Analytics since 2009, Fillmore participates in the International Db2 Users Group and the Db2 for z/OS Customer Advisory Council. As a Db2 gold consultant, he works directly with Silicon Valley Lab technical leadership to help drive customer-focused enhancements. He also engages regularly with the IBM Z community through blogging, social media and delivering IBM-authorized training courses.
Principal solutions advisor // Rocket Software
Ezriel Gross is a three-time IBM Champion who has worked on the IBM Z platform for over three decades. At Rocket, he consults with companies that use CICS and helps IBM market, sell and deploy CICS Performance Analyzer and CICS Configuration Manager.
Gross shares his consulting skills with the broader IBM Z community by serving as the deputy project manager for the CICS group at SHARE, helping to produce the schedule of presentations at each conference and lead several as well. “This platform is important to me because it is the fastest, most reliable and secure one available today. I hope to continue to share my knowledge by training the next generation of mainframers.”
MQ technical education specialist // MQGem Software Limited
Known as “the z/OS person” at MQGem, Morag Hughson ensures the company’s tools and training cover z/OS as fully and completely as any other platform. She started her work with the platform in 1996 as a developer for IBM’s MQ for z/OS product.
Named an IBM Champion for Middleware in 2016 and for Cloud in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Hughson plans to use her IBM Z Champion title to engage deeper with the z/OS community, as she did in the past as a regular speaker at SHARE and GSE (U.K. and Nordic). “I am keen to see the IBM z/OS ecosystem expand to provide easier access to the platform for students, hobbyists and small software vendors,” she says. “We can help enhance the platform by getting more people using it from all walks of life.”
“We can help enhance the platform by getting more people using it from all walks of life.”—Morag Hughson, technical education specialist, MQGem Software Limited
CEO // Everledger
Leanne Kemp founded Everledger in 2015 using IBM Z systems and the IBM Blockchain platform to use the best of emerging technologies for real-world applications in industries where transparency, trust and provenance matter most.
“Blockchain on IBM Z offers exceptional security, speed and integration with the transactional data already on the mainframe,” she says, noting that the platform helps her get 8.5x more effective security and better encryption, speed, scale and deployment. “We can release new apps nearly 3x faster.”
This is Kemp’s second year as an IBM Champion. “The program recognizes my innovative thoughts as a technical community leader and rewards these contributions by amplifying my voice,” she says.
“Blockchain on IBM Z offers exceptional security, speed and integration with the transactional data already on the mainframe.”—Leanne Kemp, CEO, Everledger
Henri H.B. Kuiper
COO // zdevops
First-time IBM Champion Henri Kuiper got his start on the Z platform over 20 years ago as a PL/1 programmer for an insurance company. “I immediately fell in love with the platform, its intangible intrinsics and the sheer amount of power this machine had,” he says. Kuiper is now the founder of a company that assists organizations with their internal clouds that run on the mainframe. He is also a technical coordinator for the Dutch region of GSE and co-founded a society focused on mainframe security.
“This platform is so important because it basically runs the world. I keep telling people this at any occasion I get, from my clients to students at high schools and universities. It’s one of the things I love doing,” Kuiper says.
“I immediately fell in love with the platform, its intangible intrinsics and the sheer amount of power this machine had.”—Henri H.B. Kuiper, COO, zdevops
Co-director // Column 72
July marks the anniversary of Paul Matthews’ 50th year of working with the IBM Z platform. He started as a trainee computer operator for an IBM System/360 Model 20 with the Australian Federal Government Department of Repatriation. “I have been intimately and passionately involved with IBM Z mainframes every day since then,” he says.
Column 72 was founded in 2017 to help solve mainframe clients’ succession planning challenges by training the mainframers of the future. The company recently partnered with the University of Canberra to form the Mainframe Trainee Program, a three-year Bachelor of Information and Mainframe Technology course that helps trainees learn both the technical and programming aspects of IBM Z. It’s also a member of the IBM Z Champion program, 451 Alliance and IBM PartnerWorld.
Senior IBM Z developer // BMC Software Inc.
Hemanth Rama decided to pursue a mainframe career as a grad student 13 years ago when he saw the depth and breadth of the IBM Z platform firsthand—and he hasn’t looked back since.
Rama displays his commitment to moving the platform forward by writing about it for IT websites, magazines and his personal blog; speaking at conferences, symposiums and user groups; helping to manage SHARE’s zNextGen and MVS Performance Project; participating in mainframe podcasts; and serving on the technical content editorial review committee for the SHARE conference newsletter.
“The Z platform is going through tremendous modernization that should attract the next generation,” he says. “Being named a Champion with like-minded subject matter experts is a wonderful feeling. I hope to continue to contribute to this great platform and make a difference.”
“The Z platform is going through tremendous modernization that should attract the next generation.”—Hemanth Rama, senior IBM Z developer, BMC Software Inc.
Director of IBM Z systems // GT Software
With 10 Champion designations and 42 years of IBM Z platform experience, Dusty Rivers is not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of his work at GT Software helping global companies API-enable their mainframe systems, he manages the SHARE Information Management Program, which covers IMS*, database and SAN/disk/tape projects.
Rivers also speaks to global user groups and at various SHARE events, and participates in IBM-sponsored panels and virtual user groups. “I explain how others are being successful creating and using IBM Z systems in their businesses,” he says. “Since I started on Z, it has been my sweet spot. That being said, it is the most robust, secure, scalable and powerful platform on the planet. Being named an IBM Champion is an incredible honor, and it’s wonderful to be recognized for making a difference in the Z community.”
Mainframe security engineer // M&T Bank
Byron Smith began his journey to becoming an IBM Z enthusiast almost a decade ago as a college student. Today, he encourages others to follow suit by mentoring students and professional engineers through both his membership with the National Society of Black Engineers and his social media channels.
“In order for our industry to attract and retain talent, we must work together as a community to advocate for the importance and value of the platform, which is clearly paramount to the way our world works today,” he says. “I’m utilizing my IBM Champion role to iterate to students, universities and companies why my work on the platform is meaningful and empowering, and why the mainframe discipline is a spectacular space to be in.”
“In order for our industry to attract and retain talent, we must work together as a community to advocate for the importance and value of the platform.”—Byron Smith, mainframe security engineer, M&T Bank
Marc I. Smith
Mainframe training consultant // ProTech Training
Marc Smith has been hooked on the mainframe since 1983, when he joined the IBM VM/XA development team. He eventually moved into IBM Z marketing and channel enablement reporting through the hardware team, and helped to create the IBM Destination z online community (destinationz.org).
Now, he’s a part-time ProTech consultant and volunteers on the planning committee for the VM Workshop. As a guest lecturer at high schools and universities, he presents “IT’s Best-Kept Secret,” explaining what a mainframe is, who uses them and the growing opportunity to work with them. “I enjoy nurturing and building relationships with other mainframers and providing guidance to young folks who ultimately will need a place to work and thrive; I don’t want them to miss out on this opportunity to build a career and join an important community,” he says.
COO // Interskill Learning, Americas
Darren Surch and his Interskill team have trained over 1 million mainframe computing personnel globally. Contributing to the ongoing vitality of the mainframe community is a core Interskill value; working closely with the IBM Academic Initiative, it donates mainframe e-learning to SHARE’s zNextGen program, TechNation and faculty at a number of academic institutions.
Surch also shares his passion by presenting often at conferences such as SHARE, IBM TechU, AFCOM and the Enterprise Computing Community conference. “The Z platform is important to me because I realize its central role in the past, present and future running of the world. I feel proud of the impact I have had in moving it forward,” he says. “Being named an IBM Champion, among other industry luminaries, is the highest honor I have received in 29 years in the industry.”
Harry van Irsel
Lead architect, IBM Z // Rabobank
Over the last few years, Harry van Irsel put his 35 years of industry experience to work, turning the Rabobank teams working on the IBM Z platform into “self-servicing” teams, migrating the Z platform to a fully self-tuning, self-managing environment and making it easily accessible through APIs. “In this context I’m working very closely with IBM, and I enjoy challenging them to come up with innovative solutions,” he says.
Van Irsel is also a member of the IBM Z Design Council and GSE, and he speaks at international technical forums and user groups. “The mainframe will play an important role in the future,” he says. “It has evolved at an incredible speed and is opening up and integrating a hybrid cloud environment in a way that makes it transparent. In order to make this a success, companies and people using the mainframe need to become more open and transparent.”
“The mainframe will play an important role in the future. ... It has evolved at an incredible speed and is opening up and integrating a hybrid cloud environment in a way that makes it transparent.”—Harry van Irsel, lead architect, IBM Z, Rabobank
Sponsored Content: 4 Essentials of Managing IBM Z
Performance management capabilities have always been one of the strengths of IBM Z* technology, ensuring that IT isn’t the weak link in business processes.
Managing IT includes performance management. There are four parts of performance management and each is critical to your business. The four parts are:
- Performance analysis: the ability to diagnose performance problems quickly when users are being impacted. This is always platform-specific and includes the capability for full subsystem performance diagnostics (e.g., processor, real storage, disk storage, paging and network).
- Capacity planning: ensuring there’s enough resource to meet your business commitments. As workload grows or new functions are implemented, insufficient resources result in poor performance and potentially lost business.
- Operational alerts: Automated detection and reporting of performance or operational issues is a requirement in any large system.
- Chargeback: Understanding who is consuming your resources allows input to capacity planning and ensures IT is run as a business based on solid processes. Resources are a cost and need to be allocated to the business function needing that resource.
CTO of Velocity Software
Barton founded Velocity Software in 1988. He is one of the leading performance experts for IBM Z. Email Barton at email@example.com
Sponsored Content: Meet Dusty Rivers, IBM Champion
As a 10-time Champion, Dusty Rivers has an unmatched understanding of how to incorporate mainframes into leading-edge systems. Through his 40-year career, Dusty has helped build and modernize countless global mainframe API systems and now enjoys sharing his experience and war stories from the front lines. He is frequently invited to speak at SHARE user groups, IBM events and other symposiums dedicated to mainframe APIs and modernization.
As director of Z systems at GT Software, Dusty’s expertise in API design, implementation, and the use of IBM Z* is invaluable to the company’s product and client success efforts. “GT Software provides technology that enables Z mainframe applications and transactions to be easily exposed as REST or SOAP APIs without coding,” Dusty says.
“Unique and powerful orchestration capabilities allow multiple transactions to be included into an intelligent API workflow that makes it easier for all technologies, current and future, to consume,” he adds. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at GT Software and the role I’ve been able to play.”
Director of Z systems, GT Software
Dusty has been in mainframe computing and integrating mainframe IMS*, Db2* and CICS* systems for over 40 years.