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Rock Stars in our Midst

This year, IBM named 41 Champions for Power. Each has a distinct background and offers a unique perspective that supports the overall community.

IBM employees comprise a small portion of the Power Systems* team. The community extends beyond corporate offices into all corners of the globe. Leading up that community are IT professionals, business leaders and educators who devote much of their professional lives to spreading the word about the platform.

To give credit where credit is due, IBM created its Champions program in 2011. Typically nominated by their peers, IBM Power Systems Champions receive the title for one year and are eligible to renew their status the following year.

“Our Power Systems Champions are rock stars in the industry. They are channel partners, developers, ISVs and OpenPOWER partners. They are advocates and evangelists for our brand,” says Kimberly Storin, vice president, marketing, Power Systems. “These are the people who embody the meaning of the word Champion.”

This year, IBM named 41 Champions for Power. Each has a distinct background and offers a unique perspective that supports the overall community. IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems edition caught up with a few of them to learn why and how they are living up to their Champion titles.

Babatunde Akanni
Managing Director; Head Technical Sales, ROE Limited,
Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria

A new Power Champion this year, Babatunde Akanni uses AIX* in his work at ROE Limited, an IT systems integrator with a presence in more than 10 countries spanning Africa, Asia and Europe. Akanni is a champion in the areas of environmental infrastructure audits and translation to the Power platform using rPerf (relative performance). “I really want to save customers several cost points,” he says.

Liam Allan
Product Developer, Profound Logic,
Dayton, Ohio

Working remotely from his home in the U.K., 2017 Power Champion Liam Allan writes new Node.js code to help modernize RPG code. Allan enjoys porting applications to IBM i and AIX, as well as writing new code to demonstrate how powerful the database, system and hardware can be.

Allan has been using PASE and AIX. Currently, he’s writing new development tools on Windows* for IBM i and working on a DB2* module for Lua (running in ILE). He does a lot of open-source development to show that IBM i can be like any other OS. “I want to show people what they’re missing out on for going to less reliable hardware. These operating systems are just as capable as any other, but with lots of benefits,” he explains.

Aaron Bartell
Director of IBM i Innovation, Krengeltech,
Mankato, Minnesota

An IBM Power Systems Champion since 2012, Aaron Bartell creates new products and services for Krengeltech on the IBM i platform. Litmis Spaces ( ) is one such effort that brought browser-based development of IBM i open source to the masses with the click of a button.

“PASE on IBM i is basically AIX, and the majority of my time is spent in PASE, so you could say I spend time in AIX,” he explains. “I also work on Linux projects for some customers when they prefer that over PASE.”

Bartell likes to spread the word about Power Systems by teaching others. This includes writing articles and aggregating news on Twitter (@aaronbartell). “Technology not known about can’t be adopted,” he says.

Shawn Bodily
Senior IT Consultant, Clear Technologies,

Now in his second year as a Power Systems Champion, Shawn Bodily provides presales-solution design assistance and post-sales implementation services. His focus is on AIX and Linux. His favorite channels to spread the word about Power are Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Bodily has also authored or co-authored numerous technical documents, including IBM Redbooks* publications. He manages the PowerHA wiki. “It’s important to remind people that not only are there alternatives to Intel systems—there are superior ones,” Bodily explains.


Shrirang “Ranga” Deshpande
President, COMMON Europe,
Bettembourg, Luxembourg

Now in his fifth year as a Champion, Ranga Deshpande does volunteer work to advance the IBM Power Systems and IBM i community.

A user and advocate of IBM i and Linux, his goal is to continue building the COMMON Europe user group with passion and an eye toward the future. He’s achieving this goal by organizing education and networking activities in international Power and IBM i communities, reinvigorating dormant user groups and involving graduate students in these activities to let them discover the strength of Power Systems for themselves. He also participates in advisory councils for the platform’s continuous improvement, as well as enhancing the community through social media, particularly Twitter (@RangaDesh).

“Business executives and personnel wish to focus on boosting their business. The strengths of IBM i on Power is their best guarantee, today and in future,” says Deshpande. “It’s essential that Gen Z to Baby Boomers know and embrace it.”

Anthony English
Director, IT Down Under,

Anthony English was an inaugural IBM Champions in 2011. He started working in AIX in 1991, and has been offering independent consulting for big enterprises since moving away from full-time work in 2007. Today, he helps finance institutions protect their data and infrastructure.

“Installations and upgrades can involve teams spread across several countries,” says English. “You really need to be confident that no single component will hold back a project.”

While he continues working on IBM PowerVM systems, most of his focus is translating technobabble for executives into terms they understand—business outcomes. His business articles on, along with his activity on Twitter and LinkedIn, have positioned him as someone who can effectively translate between IT teams and the C-suite. This past February, he gave the keynote address at the annual ProcureTECH conference on how to manage business risk and the importance of assessing business goals when planning IT projects.

Cynthia Fortlage
Vice President IT (CIO) & Social Business, GHY International,
Winnipeg, Canada

One of the original six inductees into the Power Champions program, Cynthia Fortlage provides customs brokerage and trade consulting services to Canadian and U.S. importers and exporters. Her company uses IBM i, AIX and Linux OSs.

Fortlage has given talks on IBM Power systems in more than 14 countries at more than 60 in-person events. She has also given hundreds of press and analyst interviews and client reference calls. She tweets, posts, comments and continues to raise awareness.

“Beyond giving back to our IT community with one of the best-kept secrets, there is also celebration for those noteworthy aspects that my team and I accomplish,” she says. “Being an IBM Champion has also provided wonderful relationships that we continue to cherish.”

Alan Fulton
Senior Engineer, Platform Engineering, Fiserv Inc.,
Alpharetta, Georgia

A first-time Champion who works remotely from Budd Lake, New Jersey, Alan Fulton uses IBM i, AIX and Linux. He started by using AIX for several decades, with “a near unhealthy passion for virtualization.” Today, he’s a strong advocate on spreading the word on IBM solutions via Twitter (@The_Iron_Monger), as well as at conferences on virtualization and design.

“Data will continue to grow and processing power will continue to advance at a furious pace,” notes Fulton. “The two things that will continue to drive that is the expectation that the systems will always be available, and that we can do new and ever-expanding things with the data.”


Cosimo Gianfreda
Co-founder and CTO, E4 Computer Engineering S.p.A, Scandiano,
Reggio Emilia, Italy

Cosimo Gianfreda works for a leading Italian company that specializes in computing and storage solutions. Along with focusing on the technical coordination of his company, his job entails traveling around the world, researching technologies and outsourcing the best available components. “It’s basically like being a sort of human radar,” he says, “scouting new opportunities and recipes to keep E4 as innovative as ever.”

Gianfreda advocates for the OpenPOWER architecture on scientific workloads, as well as advises users and application developers on the benefits of optimizing their applications to keep up with the POWER* capabilities.

“I always highlight the critical need to match between the POWER CPU processors/system platforms and the ever-increasing requirement of leading-edge scientific research,” he says. “Better productivity means better science.”

Ron Gordon
Director of Power Systems, Mainline Information Systems,
Tallahassee, Florida

Now in his sixth year as a Power Systems Champion, Ron Gordon serves as a technical resource for his company in all things related to Power Systems. He’s based out of his home in Montana, but his work covers the entire U.S., supporting IBM i, AIX and Linux. He also interacts directly with Mainline customers in Power Systems discussions and architectural design, in addition to participating in social media, contributing to developer blogs and presenting at user groups and other conferences.

“IBM is rapidly improving the technology and support of Power Systems,” Gordon explains. “Communications and understanding of this evolution is an absolute requirement so that customers know what is available to solve their business problem and why, in many cases, the Power Systems platform is the ultimate platform to support their business needs.”

Tom Huntington
Executive Vice President, Technical Solutions, HelpSystems LLC,
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Tom Huntington provides industry insights and thought leadership around IBM i, AIX and Linux software products for security, automation and monitoring of these OSs. He leads the organization to make sure its solutions align with ever-changing customer needs.

This is Huntington’s second year as a Power Systems Champion, and his third year authoring the IBM i Markplace Study, which is used by software vendors to help steer their direction in technology and marketing. His company also recently launched a new AIX Community Survey to better understand customer needs and trends in the AIX space.

“HelpSystems believes that the Power technology is excellent for running a world-class data center today,” says Huntington, who also believes that Power technology is perfect for private or public cloud technologies.

“IBM i users still refer to the server as AS/400 and, in turn, management teams think of it as legacy technology. Our webinars and social marketing help change the perception around this technology.”

Andy Lin
Vice President, Strategy, Mark III Systems,
Austin, Texas

As a five-year IBM Power Systems Champion, Andy Lin spreads awareness in the Power Systems ecosystem. He speaks at conferences like InterConnect, OpenPOWER Summit and World of Watson, gives feedback to IBM partners at various meetings, and contributes to blogs and social media. He also continually works with clients to keep them updated on the latest Power Systems announcements and optimizations, serving as his company’s lead member in the OpenPOWER Foundation.

“The Power Systems platform and those based on OpenPOWER technologies are the very best architectures at workloads that will define the next 10 years in technology, specifically high-bandwidth analytics and cognitive/AI workloads,” says Lin. “It’s vital that I play my role in ensuring that the ecosystem and the industry stay informed on how Power can contribute to solving some of society’s biggest problems.”

Jaqui Lynch
Solutions Architect Self-Employed,
Greensboro, North Carolina

Jaqui Lynch specializes in AIX performance tuning and security. She also does overall planning and implementation for Power Systems, including installation of virtualization, AIX and Linux.

Lynch works on market studies for software and hardware, while also spending time as an evangelist for Power solutions through webinars, direct interactions with customers, writing articles and participating in conferences on technical topics such as NIM, AIX performance, virtualization planning and cloud. In addition, she creates and runs custom training classes for clients.

“I think it’s important to educate clients on how to get the most out of the systems they are buying,” she says. “I also feel it’s important to ensure clients know all the capabilities and that Power has a robust future, so they are reassured that it’s a great decision.”

Pete Massiello
President, iTech Solutions,
Danbury, Connecticut

One of the original Power Champions, Pete Massiello helps customers get the most from their Power Systems and IBM i. He’s also involved in his local user group and COMMON.

Massiello believes that it’s more enjoyment than effort to spread the word about Power, whether he’s speaking at user groups or tweeting, blogging and writing. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and seeing others flourish and grow in their professional careers.

“It’s a great satisfaction when people tell me that they were in a session and received a tip that helped them or they read my monthly newsletter and it helped them solve a problem. We all need to help one another grow and that in turn lifts the entire community,” he adds.


Richie Palma
Technical Solutions Consultant Arbor Solutions Inc.,
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Richie Palma, a first-year IBM Champion, helps businesses match technology to their core business needs and target objectives. His portfolio of solutions, combined with his network of technical resources, helps him address a variety of unique customer challenges.

Palma is the founder of the Midrange Meetup in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s also on the steering committee for Young i Professionals (YiPs), and serves on the board for Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group (SEMIUG). In addition, he attends industry conferences and shares opinions, ideas, and lessons learned via blogs and social media.

“I believe it’s my duty to share my knowledge and experiences with companies, so they can make an educated decision prior to purchasing that next x86 data center brick,” says Palma. “IBM Power Systems, and especially IBM i, is the most efficient compute platform for business.”

Brian Kody Robinson
Business and Financial System Developer II, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation,
Little Rock, Arkansas

An avid user of IBM i, this is Kody Robinson’s first year as a Champion. To spread the word, he presents sessions at Power Systems events, as well as by tweeting and blogging. He’s currently in the process of creating training videos with COMMON to help further education for free-form RPG.

“It’s always important to advocate for what you love to do,” says Robinson. “It not only shows companies like IBM that we love the platform, but also the companies that employ people who work on the system that this platform will be around for a long time. It’s still very modern and as innovative as ever.”

Paul Tuohy
CEO, ComCon,

Paul Tuohy is an author, consultant and trainer/educator for application modernization and development technologies on the IBM midrange. In addition to serving as CEO of his Dublin-based consultancy firm, he’s also founding partner of System i Developer, a consortium of educators who produce the RPG & IB2 Summit conference.

Tuohy speaks at COMMON, COMMON Europe Congress and other conferences throughout the world. He also hosts the popular iTalk with Tuohy podcast on His articles appear in iProDeveloper, The Four Hundred Guru, RPG Developer, IBM and other publications.

“Power, and especially IBM i, is such a phenomenal platform, but there is so much going on that it’s difficult for people in the industry to sort out what is relevant to them,” says Tuohy. “As a software developer, I try to help other developers develop the best solutions using the phenomenal resources available to them.”

Shawn Stephens
Director, Power Systems Practice, SIS,
Lexington, Kentucky

Shawn Stephens has been involved in the Power Systems Champions community since the POWER4 processor, even before the formal program began. He’s happy to be back in the Champions group for POWER8* and the eventual launch of POWER9*. “It’s a great time to be selling Power.”

For Stephens, evangelizing Power Systems has become a way of life. “Today’s Power world reminds me of the old RS/6000 days. We had the best technology, but it took a strong grasp of the technology to position it effectively.”

Therefore, he says, it’s important to realize that customers often need to understand the business benefits of the technology just as much as they need to understand the technology itself.

John E. Stone
Senior Research Programmer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Urbana, Illinois

John Stone is the lead developer of Visual Molecular Dynamics (VMD), a tool for preparing, analyzing and visualizing biomolecular simulations that is used by researchers worldwide.

He’s currently preparing software for the U.S. Department of Energy’s upcoming Summit and Sierra supercomputers, which will be housed at the Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. Stone has started to publish the details about adaptations of the software algorithms to maximize performance on Power Systems. He also presents his work at technical conferences and webinars.

“One of the principal ways that the high-performance computing community will overcome the complexity of state-of-the-art hardware is by sharing optimization techniques, programming abstractions and software libraries,” explains Stone. “By disseminating the technical information and experiences I’ve had on Power Systems, I can help others make effective use of their unique capabilities.”

Dave Waddell
Brand Manager, IBM Servers, Arrow ECS,
Alpharetta, Georgia

Now in his second year as an IBM Power Systems Champion, Dave Waddell is responsible for the enablement and growth of cognitive systems for Arrow Business Partners in North America. Specifically, he communicates Power Systems announcements to the partner community via traditional marketing and social media.

Waddell works with partners that sell and implement solutions with clients of all sizes across all markets. He says they have unique offerings that the Power platform can help deliver, either through on-premise infrastructure or hybrid solutions extended from the partner.

“As IBM expands in the commercial space, the partner community is often already there with other solutions. By promoting Power as an alternative to other architectures, we have a great way to start a new conversation with clients,” Waddell explains.


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