The Next Generation – Part 3

Guest Blogger – Laura Ubelhor


Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.


Connecting with Colleges

Working with colleges to scout out upcoming talent is another great way to bring the next generation onboard. However, as there are so many schools that offer IT programs, it can be difficult to narrow down your search. IBM and the COMMON Education Foundation offer resources to help focus your search and enhance your results.

There are many colleges across the country that include IBM i curriculum, and IBM will help you discover them. To find universities offering this curriculum in your area, visit the IBM i Academic Initiative website. Choose the “Participating schools” link in the right-side toolbar, and a list of schools by state will be displayed. You can also visit its Facebook page or email powerskills@us.ibm.com for more information.

The COMMON Education Foundation (CEF) may also be able to assist you in connecting with colleges in your area. You can find more information by visiting the CEF website. Also, CEF will be at the upcoming COMMON spring conference, POWERUp 2019, May 19-22 in Anaheim, CA. Later in the year, CEF will also attend the COMMON Fall Conference & Expo. If you attend either of these events, visit the Foundation booth. Otherwise, email foundation@common.org.

Beyond IBM and COMMON, you may also find success by reaching out to colleges directly. Visit their websites. Watch their YouTube presentations. Be persistent. Each college has job boards, and IT instructors or career placement staff can help connect you to students.

These are some of the colleges in the Michigan area teaching IBM i curriculum.

Other colleges teaching IBM i Curriculum.

An opportunity colleges offer to students and companies are job fairs. Click here for an example of a job fair held at Baker, a local Michigan college that offers IBM i curriculum. Also work with colleges to post jobs on career boards and consider working with career placement staff. They are excited to help their students be successful.

Offering an internship is also a way to work with local colleges. Even if the colleges in your area don’t have a specific curriculum for IBM i, there may be some IT students with the desire and aptitude needed to be a great fit. An internship is a wonderful way to determine whether a student would work well within your organization. At some colleges, internships are a curriculum requirement. A student can be provided IBM i training by using in-house mentoring or through a COMMON Academic Membership. COMMON offers FREE membership to students enrolled in a college IT program. The membership continues for two years after they graduate and provides individuals getting ready to enter the workforce with amazing IBM i specific education.

Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.

The Next Generation – Part 2

Guest Blogger – Laura Ubelhor


Read Part 1 of this series in the December 2018 issue of COMMON.CONNECT.


Local User Groups

When looking for recruits, don’t overlook local user groups. There are many local IBM i user groups across the country, bringing together community members and students. They provide opportunities such as student activities, competitions, and local conferences. Events often feature students and a career information exchange.

Because user groups encourage student growth and introduce the foundations needed for a strong IT career, they are great to reach out to when looking for new IT talent. If you don’t have a group in your local area, it is still worth finding one nearby. Often meetings and activities are made available through WebEx, allowing members to join remotely.

If you are starting from ground zero, a great start is to take one or more of the actions on this list:

  • Reach out to board members
  • Sign up for notifications
  • Join as a user group member
  • Participate in and/or encourage group student activities
  • Engage with other user groups
  • Request to have a job posted on the group site and/or featured within group correspondence
  • Sponsor student attendance at meetings or conferences

Being involved allows you to not only foster the next generation but to also position yourself to scout out future talent.

A local user group can come into play when connecting with local colleges. User groups greatly appreciate suggestions, so don’t be afraid to reach out and suggest a meet-and-greet, networking event, or other student focused activity. Examples of student activities held by the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group (SEMIUG) include a competition where students coded a game using any tool that was found on IBM i. Another activity involved group members submitting real projects. Students then teamed up with community members to work on these projects, with the winning submission used in an organization’s production environment. We also awarded cash prizes to attract and excite students. An upcoming event planned to kick off in February 2019 includes Watson technology. It is a great way to connect and to provide a great learning experience for everyone while generating wonderful buzz within the community.

Even if you can’t actively become involved in a user group, don’t overlook local conference events. Many groups host events that invite students, and they need sponsors. For example, SEMIUG has an annual sponsored conference called MITEC. During this event, we provide an informal student meet-and-greet, providing organizations an opportunity to connect with students and local schools. The event has grown to be a great option for local organizations looking to hire. We have had significant results, finding that students are ready and seeking opportunities. Often local organizations walk away with new employees. One organization attending our event has found great success, hiring four new student team members to fill vacant positions and replace retiring employees.

Pictures speak a thousand words. The above images show students participating at the MITEC conference. This event is not one of a kind; many other events have similar offerings and goals.

Becoming active in user groups and attending their events with enthusiasm is a great way to start getting to know a potential employee due to the opportunity for networking with students. Often at the events, student attendance is sponsored. Taking the opportunity to sponsor a student is a great way to show support and pique the interest of students seeking jobs, possibly with your company. COMMON is the largest IBM i user group within the U.S. At COMMON’s Fall Conference, many students attend thanks to sponsors and the COMMON Education Foundation. So there is a great opportunity within our own organization to connect with potential recruits. Don’t close the door on national events to seek out student talent as many are ready and willing to relocate for the right opportunity.

Want to find a user group near you? It’s not hard! Check out these great directories from IBM and COMMON!


Read Part 3 of this series.


Guest Blogger

Laura Ubelhor owns and operates Consultech Services, Inc., a Rochester, Michigan-based technology consulting company. She is an author of HTML for the Business Developer (MC Press, 2008) and many technology articles. She also helped write the COMMON RPG and Business Computing Professional certification exams. Laura has been involved in the Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group since 1988, serving as group president and lead organizer for the group’s annual MITEC conference. She is also a longtime volunteer for COMMON and has spent much of her career advocating for IT professional education.

IBM Aims Watson AI at Countering Unconscious Bias in Hiring

The problem of bias in hiring remains acute. Few businesses today deliberately discriminate in their hiring practices. Yet a recent meta-study (a comprehensive review of multiple studies) reveals that hiring discrimination against blacks and Latinos has not significantly improved over the past 25 years. As the Financial Times notes in a recent article, “Bias in the hiring process is prevalent and hard to eradicate.”

Often the issue is not intentional discrimination, but the adverse impact of the unconscious biases we all have.

The term “adverse impact” relates to employment practices that may on the surface seem fair and objective, but that actually have a disproportionately negative effect on a particular set of applicants or workers. In the United States, a company employing policies that are determined to have an adverse impact on protected groups may find itself in legal jeopardy.

IBM Sets Watson to Combat Unconscious Bias in Hiring

Recognizing that unconscious bias in hiring is a serious issue for many organizations, IBM has introduced its Watson Recruitment’s Adverse Impact Analysis capability to help combat the problem. According to Bob Schultz, General Manager, IBM Watson Talent Solutions, the purpose of this new artificial intelligence (AI) product is to help users identify “instances of bias related to age, gender, race, education, or previous employer by assessing an organization’s historical hiring data and highlighting potential unconscious biases.”

The Necessity of Bias-Free Training Data

Schultz notes that IBM honed this new AI tool’s capabilities by working with psychologists to create an unbiased AI scoring system. A critical issue in that effort was ensuring that the AI was trained with data that did not itself contain hidden biases. Aware that some commercial AI products have themselves been shown to be discriminatory (in favor of white males, for example) due to faulty training data, IBM researchers specifically focused on developing training datasets that are free of their own inherent biases. As part of that process, IBM developed a rating system that ranks the relative fairness of an AI platform and explains how it makes its decisions.

The Watson Recruitment’s Adverse Impact Analysis capability was introduced as part of IBM’s largest ever AI toolset release. Customers that have already begun using the product include BuzzFeed and H&R Block.

Domino Diva’s Perspective on the Sale of IBM Domino to HCL

  By guest blogger Kim Greene

The announcement that HCL has purchased certain IBM products for $1.8 billion has spurred a lot of speculation and questions this week.  I have been asked “what is your take on this?” many times, so here goes.

My company has provided consulting services on the IBM Collaboration portfolio for the past 18.5 years, so IBM Domino/Notes/Sametime/Traveler/Verse have been near and dear to my heart for a number of years. When I heard the announcement, my reaction was, YES!!!!!!!

From my perspective that partnership has been a huge success on many fronts, with the biggest one being a new release of the Domino product, 10.0.  This is the first new release of the product since 2013. This isn’t just a new release, it’s an amazing release! The amount of new functionality provided in Domino 10 has the magnitude to encompass the quantity of combined new function provided in releases 7, 8, 8.5, and 9.x.  That is a staggering amount! The hand-cuffs came off in Domino 10, HCL allowed the developers to do things they have wanted to do the past 10 years.  And it really shows.

In July I was one of the few privileged partners, ISVs, and customers who were invited to HCL headquarters for their first “Factory Tour.”  This was an opportunity to meet and work directly with the product leads and developers of IBM Domino/Notes/Sametime/Traveler/Verse to get an “under the covers” glimpse of the new release while providing our input and feedback regarding what should be incorporated in follow-on releases.  During the Factory Tour, we also heard directly from the management team. The message was crystal clear: they understand the value of the product, how integral it is for solving a number of business problems, and their commitment to ensuring the success and longevity of the product.

I have also seen this reflected in the HCL development team.  These are the original Iris and Lotus developers.  When you talk to them about their experience in working for HCL, their eyes light up; their passion for the software they work on shines through so brightly.  They are like kids in a candy store, except rather than gorging themselves on sugary snacks, they are cranking out kick-ass functionality.

With all of this being the result of the HCL/IBM partnership, when I heard HCL was buying Domino and its associated collaboration products, I jumped for joy.  Now HCL has not only development and support of the collaboration stack, with the purchase, it now owns marketing and sales.  To me this is really huge as I do not believe it’s any secret that IBM can’t market its way out of wet paper bag.

With that being said, huge applause goes out to Andrew Manby and his team for the incredible work they have done with the Domino 10 launch events, they have been absolutely stellar. As with the developers and support personnel having transitioned from IBM to HCL with the partnership agreement, I am hopeful with this purchase agreement the same will hold true for the talented people that have gotten IBM Domino noticed again and started the much-needed public resuscitation of the product line to the world.

For those of you who are responsible for Domino in your companies and want to get a leg up on how you can ensure you are getting the most out of your environment while learning about features and functions that are most critical to implement along with tips and tricks from an “in the trenches” perspective, I have created a web education offering that is available at www.common.org/domino

This education offering has a bonus module on the key enhancements in Domino 10 including automatic cluster database symmetry and repair, replica synchronization tool and concurrency monitoring, along with hot view updating and note deletion logging.  This education offering came about based on concerns I was hearing from attendees and colleagues while speaking at conferences: “conferences only offer sessions on the very latest and greatest, but what about all of the other things I should be doing on a regular basis that are never talked about anymore”.  I took this input and put together a “boot camp” for Domino administrators to cover all of the crucial elements Domino administrators should be aware of while adding in expertise from years of boots on the ground experience that help to accelerate any administrator to the top of their ranks.

I would also like to bring your attention to another aspect of the HCL acquisition of IBM Domino and its affiliated products, the significance of HCL’s commitment to bringing back “the community.”  HCL has started a Client Advocacy program that is part of it’s Collaboration Community (https://www.cwpcollaboration.com/).  HCL is going out of their way to engage with their customers, partners, and ISVs to understand what their requirements are, using that input to shape future versions of the product.  I hope you take this opportunity to Join The Community.

As I wrap up this article, I want to address IBM Domino and the IBM i.  As many of you are aware, the past few years have a been a bit tenuous when it came to the commitment to IBM Domino on the IBM i. I am extremely happy to report this is no longer the case.  HCL is fully committed to IBM Domino support on the IBM i and has been actively hiring additional IBM i developers as they have made it extremely clear the IBM i is one of their strategic platforms!

You may be wondering why Domino 10.0 is not available on the IBM i at the time of my writing this article.  This is due to two main items: 1) not having enough IBM i developers on staff, therefore their active recruitment of additional developers and 2) the reality of all of the “legalese” involved in moving not only people but also the associated hardware the developers need in order to deploy and test the software to ensure customers have a rock-solid experience when they upgrade to Domino 10.  So while we may not have Domino 10.0 on the IBM i today, we will have it soon!

To keep up with all of the amazing things happening with Domino and its fellow products, check out and subscribe to Destination Domino: https://www.ibm.com/collaboration/ibm-domino

The future is Yellow. Long live domino!!  #dominoforever #WeAreDomino


Kim Greene is president of Kim Greene Consulting, Inc. specializing in providing consulting services for the IBM Collaboration Solutions portfolio for IBM i (formerly AS/400, iSeries, System i), Windows, and Linux. Kim has over 15 years of experience with IBM Domino and 20 years of experience with the AS/400, iSeries, and i5 platforms. Kim specializes in installing and configuring Domino, Sametime and Connections servers, providing performance analysis, system and application tuning, health checks and security reviews, upgrades and migrations, disaster recovery assessments, high availability solutions, and customized application development.

Kim is also expanding the business to include services related to the fastest growing NoSQL database, MongoDB. Areas of specialization include architecture, performance, and security in addition to skill transfer.


Want to learn more about utilizing Domino? Kim Greene has a COMMON Boot Camp – Domino Administration: The Essentials. Check it out today!

Integrating PowerVC in an IBM i Shop

By Dana Boehler

The speed of business has never been faster. Product release cycles have shrunk to timelines inconceivable in the past. Some fashion retailers are now releasing new product every two weeks, a cycle that historically only happened 4-8 times a year, and certain retailers even have product available immediately after it is displayed on the runway.

The demand for immediate insight into the state of sales numbers, ad campaigns, and other business functions has made the continuous aggregation of data commonplace. And if those factors weren’t pressure enough, the threat of ever-evolving security hazards is generating mountains of updates, code changes, and configuration adjustments — all of which need to be properly vetted before entering a production environment.

All of this activity needs to run on infrastructure that administrators like ourselves must manage, often with fewer coworkers to assist. Thankfully, for those of us running IBM i on IBM Power Systems, IBM has provided a robust cloud management tool that allows us to quickly spin up and spin down systems: PowerVC.

PowerVC allows users to manage existing IBM Power System partitions, create images from those partitions, and deploy new partitions based on those images. More recent versions of PowerVC support IBM i management and deployment (earlier versions did not).

Over the past year, I have been using PowerVC to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to bring a system into the environment. Typically, creating a new system would take several hours of hands-on keyboard work over the course of a few days of hurry-up-and-wait time. The first time I deployed a partition from PowerVC, however, I was able to reduce that to about an hour, and after more refinements in my deployment, images, and process, I am now down to under 25 minutes. That’s 25 minutes to have a fully deployed, PTF’d system up and running.

The full implications of this may not be readily apparent. Obviously, net new systems can be deployed much more quickly. But more importantly, new modes of development can be more easily be supported. PowerVC supports self-service system provisioning, which enables teams to create their own systems for development, test, and QA purposes, and then tear them down when no longer needed. Since the systems are focused on the task at hand, they do not need the resources a fully utilized environment would need.

There’s more: Templates can be created in PowerVC to give the self-service users different CPU and memory configurations, and additional disk volumes can be requested as well. Post-provisioning scripts are supported for making configuration changes after a deployed system is created. In our environment, we are taking this a step further by integrating PowerVC with Red Hat’s Ansible automation software, which has given us greater flexibility in pre- and post-provisioning task automation.

In practice, using PowerVC removes many of the barriers to efficient development inherent in traditional system deployment models and permits continuous deployment strategies. Using PowerVC, a developer tasked with fixing a piece of code can spin up a clean test partition with the application and datasets already installed, create the new code fix, spin up a QA environment that has all the scripted tests available for testing the code, and then promote the code to production and delete the partitions that were used for development and testing.

You do have to make some changes to the environment in order to support this model. Code needs to be stored in a repository, so it can be kept in sync between all systems involved. The use of VIOS is also required. Additionally, note that when using this type of environment, the administrator’s role becomes more centered around image/snapshot maintenance (used for deployment templates) and automation scripting rather than the provisioning and maintenance of systems.

For full information on the product and its installation, I recommend visiting IBM’s knowledge center.

Guest Blogger

Dana Boehler is a Systems Engineer and Security Analyst at Rocket Software, specializing in IBM i.

COMMON Memories

Recently Anne Lucas, former President of the COMMON Board of Directors, shared some photos from 1992-1994 with us. Now, we want to share them with you.

If you have any memories of this time period, feel free to share them in the Comments section found at the bottom of this post.

San Antonio

COMMON's Anne Lucas and IBM executive Buell Duncan pose with a four-legged friend in San Antonio.
IBM CEO Lou Gerstner and COMMON's Anne Lucas mingle with the crowd at Opening Session.

COMMON International Meeting

The pictured individuals include Bib Anderson, IBM Liaison, Amiram Shore, COMMON Israel, and Anne Lucas, COMMON.

5 Tips for Working Under Management Unfamiliar with IBM i

By Dana Boehler

Unless you’re working in a very large shop as an administrator on IBM i, you are likely reporting to management that did not come from an IBM i background. This dynamic can be challenging, but there are ways to approach the situation that can lead to a more rewarding experience. Here are a few tips for making this situation work better for you, taken from my own experience. I can’t say I’ve always followed these recommendations, but I can say that things tend to go better when I do.

1. Be Patient

As an IBM i administrator, you’ve spent countless hours learning how these systems work – their strengths, their quirks, and idiosyncrasies. You likely take many of these traits for granted, but it’s important to acknowledge that those who do not have your experience will not. Nor will they necessarily make logical conclusions that you may see as obvious. An example that comes to mind is the many times I’ve been asked by an auditor for the list of database users for our “AS/400”. It may be tempting to tell the requestor, “We haven’t had an AS/400 for over 15 years, and our IBM i doesn’t have a separate database logon for the users!” But that will only make you seem like a curmudgeon. Additionally, if that attitude surfaces frequently enough, management will actively try to avoid you and exclude you from important project discussions that may affect your systems.

2. Be a Teacher

Very little of the opposition you will experience to IBM i is the result of a maniacal plot against the platform. Much of the push back is derived from a lack of understanding of how the systems work and what their benefits are. Taking the time to explain how things work, or better yet, hosting a lunch-and-learn session on an aspect of the system, can go a long way to removing your manager’s and coworkers’ lack of familiarity with the system.

3. Where Possible, Reduce Your Reliance on Jargon

There are many terms that may be misunderstood by a non-IBM i person. iASPs, TCP/IP servers, PTFs, and logical files are all things that someone familiar with the platform would understand, but other administrators may not. Wherever possible use language appropriate to the audience. Your manager may not know what a logical file is, but if they have used SQL they will understand what a view is, for instance.

4. Recommend the Right Tool for the Job

The IBM i platform can perform a multitude of functions, including being an application server, a web server, or even an email server. But what you do with it in your organization should answer to what is right for your business. By recommending solutions involving IBM i only where they make sense, you will foster a reputation as someone who does what is right for your company.

5. Allow Yourself to Learn from the Administrators of Other Platforms

Some of the most interesting things I have done with my IBM i systems were derived by learning from Windows, Linux, and Unix administrators. For example, we migrate non-production partitions at the SAN level using scripts to capture and recreate the HMC profiles, which saves a lot of time. This is a direct result of what I have learned from our non-IBM i staff.

Guest Blogger

Dana Boehler is a Senior Systems Engineer at Rocket Software.

Introducing the POWER9 Server Family

POWER9 is here. As many in our community will be looking to upgrade, we want to provide information on what these new servers offer you and your business.

According to IBM, POWER9-based servers are built for data intensive workloads, are enabled for cloud, and offer industry leading performance.

As you have experienced, Power Systems have the reputation of being reliable, and the POWER9-based servers are no exception. POWER9 gives you the reliability you’ve come to trust from IBM Power Systems, the security you need in today’s high-risk environment, and the innovation to propel your business into the future. They truly provide an infrastructure you can bet your business on. From a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) standpoint, a savings of 50% can be realized in 3 to 5 years when moving to POWER9 per IBM calculations.

When compared to other systems, POWER9 outperforms the competition. IBM reports:

  • 2x performance per core on POWER9 vs. X86
  • Up to 4.6x better performance per core on POWER9 vs. previous generations

Learn more about POWER9 by visiting the new landing page. For more detailed data regarding POWER9 performance, be sure to click on the Meet the POWER9 Family link.

Attending the COMMON Fall Conference & Expo? Be sure to attend the POWER Panel session on POWER9. This will be your opportunity to learn more about the servers from experts.

Planning For IT Disaster Recovery with DRaaS

Of all the business areas, the IT infrastructure of an organization is more susceptible to the impact of disastrous events. What’s more, IT recovery can be exceedingly traumatic to a business.

IBM’s DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) – Offering Prompt Recovery from IT Outage

Analysts recommend different approaches to planning recovery from IT disasters, but IBM’s IT recovery service stands alone. IBM provides “rapid recovery”, followed by “continuous replication” of all the critical aspects of IT infrastructure. DRaaS eradicates redundancy of on-site recovery servers, and its optimized resiliency offers verifiable recovery with greater automation through end-to-end services. Besides, DRaaS facilitates business with dramatic minimization of RTO (Recovery Time Object) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective).

While it’s clear IBM’s recovery service can protect businesses from catastrophic disasters, it also offers protection from less dramatic but equally devastating disruptions. Results from this year’s IDG Enterprise Research Survey have shown ransomware attacks are climbing. While the threat to IT security is increasing, organizations can mitigate losses reducing RTO and RPO with DRaaS.

Here are some more DRaaS features that make it a powerhouse for IT recovery:

  • DRaaS can run disaster recovery tests without impeding the replication of data, while keeping costs low
  • DRaaS offers an “Alternate Work Area,” for businesses, so they don’t experience downtime due to disruptions to their locations

If you would like to learn more about IBM’s DRaaS, check out COMMON’s Webcast “DRaaS 101: Tips for Evaluating Cloud for Disaster Recovery as a Service.” Not a COMMON member? Join now.

Cloud Technologies – Containerizing Legacy Apps

Information technologies are continually in a state of transition and organizations often need tools to help them transition from one platform to another, especially with regard to legacy apps. Many companies either still find value in these apps or simply cannot make the transition to Cloud technologies fast enough due to budgetary concerns or other reasons. For these organizations, IBM is now offering the Cloud Private platform, which allows businesses to embrace the Cloud by not only containerizing their legacy apps but also containerizing the platform itself, along with other IBM tools and many of the notable open source databases.

Providing Bridges

Through their Cloud Private platform, IBM provides the bridge between current cloud services and an organization’s on-site data mechanism. In essence, it allows a company’s legacy apps to interact with cloud data. IBM understands the value of making a platform accessible to other technologies and they used this philosophy as well with their Cloud Private tools. Whether an organization uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform or Amazon Web Services, IBM’s Cloud Private is flexible enough to work with both.

A Comprehensive Package

IBM’s Cloud Private platform offers a comprehensive package of tools to help companies mix and mingle their legacy apps with other cloud services and data. The Cloud Private toolset includes components for:

  • Cloud management automation
  • Security and data encryption
  • The core cloud platform
  • Infrastructure options
  • Data and analytics
  • Support for applications
  • DevOps tools

Providing a comprehensive transitioning tool, such as the one IBM developed, should help companies make the most of their investment in their legacy apps. In addition, it will provide them with the time buffer they will need before eventually making a full transition to the Cloud.