|Haakon Roberts is a name that many Db2 for z/OS customers are familiar with. As a key member of the Db2 for z/OS technical leadership team, he devotes much of his time to interacting directly with the people who depend on Db2 for z/OS to run their businesses, whether that be at conferences, on-site visits, as a participant in support issues, or addressing questions and concerns on a one-on-one basis, and he relies on these interactions to help guide Db2 for z/OS in the directions that matter most to its users. This acute understanding of the Db2 for z/OS user community enables him to help ensure that their needs of today are met while simultaneously shaping a strategy to ensure that Db2 for z/OS remains the unrivaled mainframe relational database platform well into the future.
Formally, Haakon holds the role of CTO of IBM z Data and AI, and he has attained the prestigious rank of IBM Distinguished Engineer.
How did you end up at IBM?
I studied mathematics and computer science at Reading University in the UK, with no particular plan for what to do afterwards. In my final year I applied for a job at IBM, and I had two options to choose from: customer support engineer or software engineer. I was hired as a support engineer working with UK customers. I initially trained on IMS before being asked to work on Db2, which was relatively new (V1.2) when I joined.
Describe your tenure in Db2 for z/OS.
I stayed in the software support role up to 1997, with the odd contract to work at customer sites as a Db2 systems programmer. In 1997, I moved to the installation support centre at Hursley to support the ESP of Db2 V6 in Europe. Then in 1999 I accepted an offer to work at what was then the Santa Teresa Lab (STL) in San Jose in the Db2 change team, i.e., “level 3” work. I gradually picked up more development work, taking over as the chief architect of Db2 utilities, later adding Db2 for z/OS Tools, and eventually an architect role for Db2 as a whole. Most recently I was appointed CTO of z Data and AI with overall responsibility for the technical health and strategy of Db2 for z/OS and its extensive ecosystem of products.
What are main goals as the CTO for your portfolio?
My main goal is to ensure that Db2 for z/OS continues to meet the ever-increasing demands from our clients who have bet their business upon our ability to deliver the capabilities they need to run mission critical workloads on Db2 long into the future.
What gives you satisfaction in terms of your current role?
What gives me most satisfaction is working with a team of incredibly smart and dedicated people who pull together to solve critical problems and deliver features that we know change lives for the better – whether it’s a DBA, systems programmer, or even a member of the public who ultimately benefits from what we do even though they have probably never heard of Db2 for z/OS.
How do you see the role of Db2 for z/OS changing over the next 10 years?
I expect Db2 to remain the pre-eminent hybrid cloud data server that supports mission critical workloads that underpin much of the world’s commerce. That will mean meeting new and more stringent application and business demands whilst simplifying management of increasingly large and complex systems that can no longer rely upon micro-management by personnel who have accumulated decades of experience.