2019 IBM Champions for Power Systems Showcase Modern Applications
Selected yearly, IBM Champions are nominated by their peers and selected by an IBM panel. In this article, meet the 2019 IBM Champions for Power Systems class.
By Valerie Dennis Craven05/01/2019
IBM Power Systems* clients and business partners are dedicated to the platform and the technologies and innovations it supports. To recognize those who move the platform forward, the IBM Champions for Power Systems program was created to showcase “extraordinary expertise and contributions to the technical community.”
Selected yearly, IBM Champions are nominated by their peers and selected by an IBM panel based on their contributions to the community during the previous 12 months. In 2019, 63 Power Systems experts were identified by IBM as going above and beyond for the platform—spanning the IBM i, AIX* and Linux* OSes. Many IBM Champions are active in promoting the platform beyond business hours through being active in user groups and social media, delivering presentations outside their organizations and more.
IBM Systems magazine, Power Systems, had the opportunity to discuss the platform and community with some of the 2019 IBM Champions. Modern applications and uses like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, high-performance computing and blockchain are among the ways the group is using the platform to provide value in the work they do.
Software developer // Works of Barry
Liam Allan’s focus is raising awareness of Power Systems hardware and software, and what can be done with it. The self-employed software developer offers support for new and existing Node.js applications and maintains code written in Integrated Language Environment* languages.
Allan also focuses on DevOps and open-source applications, consulting with clients running on POWER* hardware, showing how open source can help organizations grow on IBM i. Allan says that IBM i, and specifically the integrated database IBM Db2* for i, helps make the Power Systems platform what it is. To help raise the public profile of IBM i, Allan attends meetups and conferences, contributing as much code as he can to the open-source community.
IT specialist // Leading South American insurer
As an IT specialist, Felipe Bessa has experience in research, planning, implementation and administration of IT infrastructure solutions. Bessa uses IBM POWER8*, IBM PowerVM* virtualization, AIX and IBM PowerHA* high availability, along with various SAP solutions. “IBM Power Systems servers are the most powerful and reliable systems on the market,” he says.
Bessa enjoys talking about how the platform helps him achieve his goals. He appreciates that the IBM POWER architecture can share resources between different virtual systems as that demand rises and falls. “As a result, we can consolidate our environment on a significantly smaller number of physical servers than would be possible with a comparable x86-based platform, helping us to contain our operational costs,” Bessa explains of his organization’s uses of Power Systems servers.
IBM i expert // GAIA
Nathanaël Bonnet is an IBM i trainer and consultant with a focus on modern development. He trains people in administration, tools and development to offer complete solutions, and consults to assist clients in an operational way on their projects. “An important phase is the technical coaching of the teams to evolve toward more modern possibilities,” he says of consulting. His expertise includes modern tools like RPG, Integrated Language Environment and SQL with IBM Rational* Developer for i (RDi).
The most pressing issue Bonnet sees regarding the platform is producing modern code. “We have a machine that has proven its robustness and ability to evolve,” he says, noting that “it’s important to use the platform for all the technologies it offers.” Bonnet is president of COMMON France, which relaunched in 2017, and discusses current IBM i topics on forums and his blog.
Bastien Boudot de la Motte
Business unit manager, Hybrid-IT Solutions // SCC France
Bastien Boudot de la Motte is a member of COMMON France and manages the IBM sales and pre-sales team at SCC France, an IBM Business Partner working with the Power Systems platform, IBM Storage and IBM Software. While he’s worked on the platform since 2007, in the past year, Bastien has focused on showing clients the benefits of external storage on IBM i, and how to maintain the performance they had with internal disks. Recently, his team has been evangelizing private cloud for Power Systems servers, helping clients implement tools like IBM PowerVC* cloud manager.
Bastien appreciates being recognized as an IBM Champion. “The program means that IBM is aware of the great work done by non-IBM employees on a daily basis, working for IBM technologies and accompanying clients toward transformation, modernization and a journey to the cloud,” he says.
President // imPower Technologies
Jim Buck’s company, imPower Technologies, offers online classes to train developers to be IBM i RPG developers, and on-site seminars that teach the latest RDi, RPG and SQL programming techniques. Buck believes that training is important because, “it’s difficult to modernize a company’s software using skills learned in the ’80s.” He’s also active in the COMMON community and the WMCPA user group, serving as past president and sponsor director for the user group’s spring conference.
Buck enjoys speaking to IBM i user groups and expanding the reach of the, “greatest OS in the world” to veterans and new users alike. “Once young developers are introduced to the system, they are amazed by the power, flexibility and dependability of it,” he says. “Most of them have been exposed to only front-end applications and they don’t realize what a real workhorse can accomplish.”
Roberto De Pedrini
IBM i trainer // FAQ400
Roberto De Pedrini stays busy as co-founder and chief of two companies: consulting service Nextev and training and education company FAQ400. Alongside his partners, De Pedrini has worked in the past two years to help revive the local IBM i community through training courses, webcasts, conferences and other services. He’s worked on the platform since the early ’90s with one of the first IBM AS/400 systems and is impressed by the reliability, security and power of the platform.
“I believe in this platform, so I always try to learn new tools and tricks, and I try to modernize my applications with those things.” He also encourages other IBM i developers to help keep the platform modern through learning new languages, tools and methodologies (e.g., web services, open source, SQL tables and procedures).
Shrirang ‘Ranga’ Deshpande
President // COMMON Europe
Ranga Deshpande, an IBM Champion since 2012, is a longtime advocate for IBM i and Linux systems. Beyond his role as COMMON Europe president, he’s vice president of COMMON Belgium; a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award and senior advisor with the IT Executive Circle, a private think tank; and the former IT director of Jules Bordet Institute, the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Brussels. His passion is to renovate the COMMON Europe, COMMON Belgium and Benelux Power communities. He plans to do this through education and networking activities, restarting dormant user groups and bringing graduate students into the fold.
For business executives looking to boost business, “the strengths of IBM i on Power Systems is their best guarantee, today and in the future,” says Deshpande.
“Assuring management that IBM i is their best tool for business continuity in the next decade is my current mission.”
Engineer // Fiserv
As an advisory engineer for IBM client Fiserv, Alan Fulton designs and engineers solutions for projects and consults with co-workers on their technological designs. This requires legacy knowledge of existing solutions to transform using the latest hardware, software and tooling. While Fulton’s worked with the IBM Power Systems platform for over 25 years, he currently works on AIX, IBM i and Linux.
“Throughout my career, I have used IBM Power Systems as the simply elegant solution in performance, resilience and reliability, availability, and serviceability features to provide some of the best solutions available on this world-class hardware,” he says. Fulton speaks about the platform within his organization and at technical conferences like IBM TechU, as well as being active on Twitter (@The_Iron_Monger). IBM continues to make its commitment to Power Systems well known, Fulton notes. “That commitment allows others to see the long-term value in partnering with IBM for their solutions.”
Bartlomiej ‘Bart’ Grabowski
IBM Power principal support specialist // DHL
Bart Grabowski works for DHL in a hands-on architecture position that includes designing new configurations, implementing new solutions and improving performance issues. “I have a unique opportunity to actively work with scale-out and enterprise machines,” Grabowski notes. “I usually design hardware configurations, install and configure the virtualization engine, and run performance and resilience tests.”
He’s been involved with more than 10 IBM Redbooks* publications–he’s considered a platinum IBM Redbooks author—developing certification tests and managing a personal blog (theibmi.org) that focuses on IBM i, PowerVM virtualization and Power Systems hardware. In addition, Grabowski plans to release software that will allow IBM i administrators to build and manage LPARs later this year. He does all this because “The Power Systems platform provides extreme resilience and stability,” something he strives to let others know about in an approachable language anyone can understand.
President // Kim Greene Consulting Inc.
Kim Greene’s company provides consulting services for IBM Notes*, Domino*, Sametime* and Traveler products. An extension of her customers’ IT departments, Greene handles a range of requests for these products spanning architecture design, administration and application development. In addition, her firm provides architecture, security and performance services for MongoDB.
While her company supports other hardware environments, too, Greene notes that, “Power Systems servers are incredibly innovative, flexible and powerful, and allow my customers to run their businesses in an extremely efficient manner.” She advocates for IBM i so everyone understands the system’s offerings and business benefits. She does this by speaking at conferences, working with IBM management to ensure Power Systems clients are represented and volunteering with COMMON as the strategic education team manager.
President // Central Park Data Systems
Charles Guarino runs an IBM i consulting company whose services include technical and management resources. He speaks about IBM i application development, advocating modernization usage and tooling, to user groups and at conferences in the U.S. and Europe. Guarino also provides on-site technical workshops, teaching developers how to integrate IBM RDi into their shops. He even creates videos highlighting RDi features.
Having started his career 35 years ago on the midrange platform, Guarino’s passion for IBM i is well-founded, he says. “Because of the proven track record of IBM i, I have confidence in recommending it to my customers,” he explains. “I have based my entire career on this platform and have never been disappointed.”
Jesper Hemmet Omer
IT manager // HT Bendix
The IBM Power Systems platform and IBM i are important to Jesper Hemmet Omer. He enjoys spending time on the platform so much, he calls it a hobby. “I spend a lot of time advocating for the platform, and am always first to use new releases and tell people in the community about them,” he says.
Hemmet Omer works as an IT manager for a wholesale furniture fittings company, which uses the platform as a business ERP system, website, supplier portal, web catalog and project management system. In addition, Hemmet Omer is the chairman of the board for COMMON Denmark, for which he organizes events.
IBM i supervisor // Carhartt
As the IT supervisor of the POWER* and large systems infrastructure at IBM client Carhartt, Michael Karasienski works to ensure that the IT department is improving reliability, system performance and application performance for its internal and external customers while reducing the cost of computing. The growing business is transitioning to SAP on IBM i and SAP HANA on the POWER.
“The Power Systems platform is a highly available and high-performance platform that handles all the I/O and CPU workload we can throw at it,” he explains. “It’s very easy to see when and how to grow, scale or activate. It’s very simple to do with regards to memory, processing, storage, etc.” Beyond Karasienski’s work with the Power Systems platform, he shares information in LinkedIn communities and through articles and videos. “I’m passionate about providing value at the highest level,” he notes.
CEO // Everledger
Leanne Kemp is CEO of Everledger, an independent global emerging technology enterprise. Its focus is on creating and maintaining ecosystems of trust to address real-world challenges. It identifies and tracks assets in a variety of industries including diamonds, gemstones, jewelry, fine wine and art. Three years ago, Everledger needed to adopt modern practices for some of its applications, so Kemp turned to IBM Power Systems technologies. The IBM Power* Development Cloud empowers Everledger’s developers with remote access to IBM systems, and it uses IBM POWER9* processor-based servers. The organization’s blockchain frameworks are supported through high-performance computing, high performance data analytics, machine learning and other adjacent modern database workloads.
“Everledger application was transformed with containerization with a modern microservices-based architecture, which was important for DevOps integration,” Kemp says. “Power Systems qualified with the right value proposition alongside proof points for modern cloud-native workloads.”
Jaqueline 'Jaqui' Lynch
Power Systems consultant and architect
Jaqui Lynch is a Power Systems consultant and architect. In that capacity, she provides services including enterprise architecture, performance tuning and system implementation primarily focused on Power Systems virtualization with AIX and Linux. She helps design and implement complex solutions for clients. Beyond work, she’s active presenting at IBM and other conferences around the world, writes for ibmsystemsmag.com, and belongs to the AIX Virtual User Group and the U.K. Virtual User Group.
Lynch chooses to work on the Power Systems platform because it provides clients with maximum flexibility, performance and choice. “They can run IBM i, AIX and Linux all on the same box, taking advantage of the performance, security and reliability of the Power environment,” she says.
Solutions architect // Meridian IT
Rob McNelly is a solutions architect with Meridian IT. He helps clients, “run their business on rock-solid hardware with great performance and minimal downtime.” While he’s worked primarily with AIX and Linux on POWER, he has experience with IBM i. “I work with the Power Systems platform because I love it,” he notes. He discusses all things POWER via Twitter and weekly AIXchange blog posts.
Senior IT consultant // ANZ Bank
Kristian Milos is the subject matter expert for IBM Power Systems and AIX for the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Bank, responsible for the hardware end-to-end design, implementation and operation; and anything that runs on it. In his 15 years working with the platform, he’s, “worn many hats,” from operational support to design, engineering and automation. Milos recommends that anyone looking for both performance and stability consider the AIX OS. “The decades of engineering that’s been poured into both the hardware and software make it a great choice for your workloads,” he says. Outside of work, Milos gathers with other advocates in the small Australian Power Systems community every few months for informal meetups.
IT expert // Raiffeisenbank
As a head of the Power Systems Administration Group, vice president for Raiffeisenbank in Russia, Dmitry Mironov and his team are in charge of supporting IT infrastructure for AIX, Linux and IBM i. He knows how to get the best results from Power Systems servers. “There are a lot of innovations inside the platform, and a lot of useful features to optimize the IT infrastructure and achieve high performance and security,” he says. “I like when the proper technology is properly used.”
Realizing a need for help learning about AIX, he and his friends started AIXPortal (aixportal.ru), a Russian-speaking Power Systems community. The group focuses also include Linux, IBM i and storage. The group is part of the COMMON Europe user group. Beyond the community, Mironov writes articles and speaks at events in support of the platform.
Data scientist // Mark III Systems
Data scientist John Pace works on projects related to AI and machine learning. Currently, he uses IBM POWER9 AC922 servers to work on computer vision, predicting hospital re-admissions, helping a sports team improve its performance and predicting which cancer drugs are most effective. Within the IBM Power Systems community, Pace is working with the IBM PowerAI and PowerAI Vision teams to streamline installation and updates.
“Power Systems technology is important to me because I believe their performance for AI and machine learning is superb,” he notes of the platform’s capabilities. “With the NVIDIA NVLink technology that only Power Systems possess, processing is incredibly fast and uses the latest technology available.” Pace shows others what can be done on the platform by performing customer demonstrations of the projects he’s worked on with the various technology, as well as creating customer proofs of concept.
Developer // Arkansas Electrical Cooperative Corporation
As a business and financial system analyst, Kody Robinson develops and maintains warehousing and inventory systems for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Inc. He was introduced to the IBM Power Systems platform while working at a bank in college, and has worked with IBM i for five years, creating and hosting sustainable applications to help clients run their businesses.
Robinson is passionate about the platform and is active in local user groups and COMMON’s Young i Professionals group. “The POWER processor is as modern as it gets; I want to get the word out,” he explains. “There isn’t anything you can’t do on it.” Any time he can talk about the platform with someone new, he does. “I started my professional career on Power Systems and I don’t ever see myself changing from it,” he says. “The platform spoils all of us developers and I couldn’t see myself enjoying anything else more.”
John E. Stone
Senior research programmer // University of Illinois
At the University of Illinois, John Stone leads the development of visual molecular dynamics (VMD), a molecular modeling tool for preparing, analyzing and visualizing large biomolecular complexes and simulations of their dynamics. The VMD software his team develops addresses the computational challenges posed by these simulations through the development of new parallel algorithms, and by exploiting the capabilities of state-of-the-art CPUs and GPU accelerators.
By using the IBM Power Systems platform, Stone supports software tools on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where his team’s VMD and Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics programs are used to perform large-scale atomic detail biomolecular simulations. Stone’s contributions on the platform focus on parallel data analysis, high-fidelity parallel rendering, remote visualization and video streaming, and state-of-the-art techniques for molecular visualization using both rasterization and ray tracing methods on large biomolecular systems containing up to billions of atoms.
Stone believes that sharing information will help strengthen the platform: “By disseminating the technical information and experiences I’ve accumulated, I can help others make effective use of the unique capabilities of Power Systems, like ORNL Summit.” Stone also participates in and shares information at meetings hosted by IBM, NVIDIA, the University of Illinois, the OpenPOWER Foundation and ORNL.
Assistant director for biocomputing, Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing // Oregon State University
As assistant director for biocomputing in the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State, Christopher Sullivan works with 26 departments of research faculty. The center has taken advantage of IBM POWER8 and IBM POWER9, when the IBM Power Systems platform began supporting little endian. “This change was fundamental to science taking advantage of the hardware,” Sullivan says. “We were able to compile almost all of our code without having to rewrite things, and really started to increase throughput.”
All of the center’s deep learning and machine learning is being conducted on IBM Power Systems. Without the help of the platform, Sullivan says the researchers wouldn’t be able to keep up with the amount of data and work they are producing. One group in particular has moved from processing its data in 37 days to five days, and is looking at how to process it in real time. “Without the throughput, we would never get the work done,” Sullivan explains.
Research computing infrastructure architect // University of Birmingham
Simon Thompson leads the infrastructure team within Advanced Research Computing at the University of Birmingham. He’s responsible for the delivery of technology and systems that directly support researchers across the university. There, they have deployed IBM Power Systems AC922 servers, moving from an x86-based system. The AC922 systems support the growing demand for accelerated and AI workloads within the research community. The system at the university is the largest IBM AI cluster in the U.K., and helps support the researchers to deliver new science and make discoveries more quickly. Although new to the Power Systems community, Thompson has already spoken at events, is chairman of the Spectrum Scale user group, where he organizes an annual event and works with groups in other countries, and supports a colleague in developing a new PowerAI user group.
CEO // ComCon
Paul Tuohy is an IT consultant, educator, speaker, author and interviewer specializing in application modernization on IBM i. “IBM i is the most dependable and reliable business platform in existence, and the best bang for your buck,” Tuohy says. He talks about this in his monthly podcast, iTalk With Tuohy, and when speaking at conferences.
Valerie Dennis Craven is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.