Have you recently been wondering if the IBM Champion program is something you'd find both exciting and valuable? Theresa Hans had the chance to sit down virtually with first time IBM Champion for Z, Subhashish Sarkar, or as many people call him, SS! Subhashish hails from Pune City, India, and is a Senior SQA Engineer for BMC Software. He's active in the mainframe community and loving the IBM Champion life so far. Read on below to hear more from Subhasish himself.
What does it mean to you to be an IBM Champion?
I am enthralled and excited, to say the least. What better reward than being recognized to be an IBM Z Champion? I feel really humbled. And, it is an utmost sense of pride for me when I call myself an IBM Z Champion for 2020. As an IBM Champion, the visibility, recognition and networking opportunities I enjoy have been the most valuable assets, I believe. My skill enhancement and the promotion of my work through different IBM channels are undoubtedly what I am cherishing the most.
How would you describe the IBM Champion community?
The IBM Champion community is a community of extraordinary experts (non-IBM’ers) across the length and breadth of IBM technologies. They nurture and support technical communities by running user groups and conferences, writing blogs and articles, contributing code and content to forums, and speaking at conferences. They are the best of the best and you should strive hard to be a part of that community and be extremely proud of yourself when you are able to achieve that.
What advice would you have to someone who wants to become an IBM Champion?
Go above and beyond your routine daily job responsibilities. Display your passion for technology – share your knowledge and expertise and help nurture and grow IBM communities. Advocate IBM solutions. If you can do these, you can consider yourself making some extraordinary contributions to the technical communities. These can help you become a future (proud!) IBM Champion.
Let's get into the technology. What kind of things are you working on currently?
Right now, in BMC, I am with the ‘AMI for Security (AfS)’ team, where I handle the QA responsibilities for the ‘BMC AMI for Security
’ Product suite. BMC AMI for Security solutions help clients detect and stop security threats in real time by securing their most valuable IT assets through real-time alerting, privileged user activity monitoring and automatic escalation enablement. BMC AMI for Security solutions help clients deliver on their growing compliance requirements by helping maintain regulatory compliance with a single audit trail. So, as you can understand, I am right now working on the Mainframe Security side of things. Besides fulfilling my day-to-day project specific tasks and responsibilities, I like to keep myself busy doing several ‘skunkworks project’ Proof-of-Concept (POC) prototypes. One recent one that I had worked on was to use the IBM zOS Connect Enterprise Edition
(zCEE) product to expose existing IMS transactions as RESTful APIs to enable one to be able to talk to IMS from the comfort of his/her mobile device. Right now, I am also working on some POC prototypes that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.
What advice do you have to someone looking to start a career on the mainframe?
In fact, three pieces of advice – Threesome Wholesome, I call them.
Lesson 1: Career Stability
First of all, if you are serious about a fruitful career in Enterprise IT, working on the mainframe platform is what will give you one. Take my word – while working on the mainframe platform, besides your technical capabilities, you will have to develop one very important skill set, to be able to constantly and mindfully neglect people filling your ears with an absolute rubbish that mainframe is an old technology and is on the verge of death. I have been working on the platform for over 12 years now and never ever in my career, even for a moment, did I face any sense of ‘career insecurity’. You should be proud of the fact that you are getting a chance to work on a platform that runs the world’s most mission-critical businesses. Your work has a huge and direct impact on the society and the world – not everybody in this world is as lucky as you are.
Lesson 2: Change is constant.
Secondly, always keep in mind that “CHANGE is the only constant”. And, the only way to cope up with the change is to constantly upskill yourself so that your skills do not get outdated and you remain relevant in the modern digital era. I had started working on the IBM Z platform back in 2008 – that was when I started my career in IT. Back then, it was considered nice if you had some non-mainframe skill sets (JAVA, for example); however, nowadays, it has become more of a requirement and necessity that people working on the IBM Z platform do possess non-mainframe skill sets as well – ‘the more, the better’ seems to be the mantra. It is quite natural that you need to constantly upgrade your skill sets to stay relevant in today’s digital age where technology keeps on changing in the blink of an eye. Therefore, I keep on saying this to the newer people coming on to work on the platform – if you do not update yourself, be ready to get outdated.
Lesson 3: Evangelize!
And finally, you should be a strong brand ambassador of the platform – a great evangelist! Spread the words about why Mainframe still matters today and put up a strong fight against people spreading lies about the platform.
Why should someone be interested in a role on the mainframe?
Because mainframe supports and runs the world’s most mission-critical workloads and businesses, people working on the platform should know that their work has a huge impact that directly helps run the society and the world day in and day out. People should not feel restricted in terms of their career progression and growth while working on the mainframe. They have a huge variety and type of roles that they can choose to excel in – application programming/development, system programming, database administrator, to name a few.
Mainframe is evolving.
IBM Z has evolved so much over the past few years - the platform now supports development in any of the popular programming languages of your choice, Containerization technology (zCX), RESTful APIs, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what not – you mention anything from the so-called ‘latest and greatest’ breed of technologies/technology trends and the platform supports everything. There is no reason whatsoever that people will feel that they are working on old technology. In fact, to the contrary, while working on the platform, people will get every possible chance to work with the so-called ‘bleeding edge’ technologies/ technology trends.
What is your next act as an IBM Champion going to be?
As an IBM Champion, I mainly focus on sharing knowledge and expertise through the publication of technical articles and blog posts. So, keep an eye out for my next technical article – that’s coming out very shortly, for sure! Besides that, I am thinking of conducting a few FREE-to-attend technical webinars, very soon – keep an eye out for my webinar notifications as well. Hoping that everybody stays safe and healthy, it’s a sign-off from me for the moment. Hoping to be in touch with everybody soon!!! . . .
Thank you to Subhasish!
If you'd like to read more of Subhasish's work, check out his profile on IBM Community here for additional links (reading articles requires registration). All of our Champions are very open and love to connect with other technologists, so feel free to drop SS a line. If you'd like to get more involved with the IBM Z community, make sure you are registered on the community and receiving regular updates. You can also stay in touch with the IBM Champions for Z by subscribing to their twitter list. Thank you all for reading and stay tuned to meet our next Champion in Action!