Being recognized as a Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM) at IBM represents an important milestone in the career of a technical leader. It is awarded to the those who have demonstrated a sustained ability to solve complex technical challenges, to innovate at a level that enables IBM to meet its technology and business goals, and to provide technical leadership for both their development community and for the clients who rely on our technology. The entire Db2 for z/OS organization is proud to celebrate our two newest STSMs, Frances Villafuerte and Sowmya Kameswaran.
|Frances is a key member of our senior technical leadership team. She has spent the entirety of her time at IBM working on various aspects of Db2 core engine development and currently leads development for the Data Manager component. Prior to joining IBM in 2000, she spent 13 years outside of IBM as a dedicated Db2 for z/OS and IMS application developer.
Upon graduating from college, Frances set her sights on a career at IBM, but due to a hiring freeze that was in place at the time, she instead accepted a position developing Db2 for z/OS and IMS applications for a Human Resources organization. In 2000, Frances learned about an opening at IBM’s Santa Teresa Lab, applied, and was offered a position on the Db2 for z/OS development team, finally realizing her goal of joining Big Blue. This new chapter gave her the unique opportunity to approach Db2 for z/OS development with an intimate understanding of what Db2 does well and how it could be improved based on her own experiences as a long-time Db2 user.
Her first project was on real-time statistics, a brand-new feature that gave her an opportunity to sink her teeth into Db2. That assignment was followed by a major role in what’s referred to internally as the “schema revolution,” which began in Db2 V8 and introduced a variety of significant schema-related improvements that enabled clients to make object schema changes without the inconvenience and expense of updating their applications. This was Frances’ pivotal assignment because it required her to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Data Manager component and set her on the path where she would make some of her most significant technical contributions, including:
- Serving as the lead architect for universal table spaces (UTSs) and business insights for Db2 9
- Continuing her work on UTSs in Db2 10 and playing a key role in the development of LOB streaming
- Leading the work for XML support and data versioning enhancements to enable data availability when copying data between systems in Db2 11
- Leading the work for LOB compression support
- Continuing to refine the performance of the Db2 insert algorithm for enterprise clients, which is critical for high-volume concurrent transactional workloads, a project that’s been a continuous focus of hers since joining Db2
Frances is also a critical resource to our support team and clients, often being the person who is called on to troubleshoot and solve the most difficult technical issues whenever her phone rings, 24/7. Her commitment to keeping the Db2 community up and running earned this praise from Db2 for z/OS Director Haakon Roberts:
“This well-deserved promotion is a recognition of Frances's technical ability and dedication to improving Db2 resiliency and the resolution of complex client issues.”
When Frances joined IBM, she remembers her manager suggesting that attaining STSM status would be an ambitious and impressive goal to shoot for. Now that she has realized this milestone, she plans to continue doing exactly what she’s been doing her entire Db2 career: growing her technical knowledge, keeping pace with and influencing the evolution of the Db2 architecture, building upon her understanding our clients’ use cases and environments to deliver the solutions they need, and helping others achieve their goals as a way to honor the many mentors who helped Frances on every step of her journey.
In her current role, Sowmya is the overall technical lead responsible for modernizing the user experience for the Db2 for z/OS ecosystem, which includes the Db2 engine, IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator, Db2 Administration Foundation, and Db2 for z/OS Developer Extension. She is also the chief architect for the IBM Db2 for z/OS Tools portfolio of products.
Sowmya joined IBM in July of 2013 with a freshly earned master’s degree in computer science program from San Jose State University. Her first assignment was as a developer on the IMS Tools team with a focus on modernizing the large and primarily ISPF-based portfolio of products. As part of her onboarding process, she had her very first and somewhat intimidating introduction to the IBM mainframe: she was placed in a classroom with a group of other new hires (most of whom already had mainframe exposure as part of recently completed internships), given a PCOMM ID and password, and told to connect to a system – a daunting initiation for anybody who has never interacted with a TSO/ISPF screen before. However, this experience proved to be invaluable to her modernization education because it enabled her to put herself in the shoes of the upcoming generation of mainframe users and developers whose expectations were shaped by growing up with robust graphical user interfaces.
Approximately a year into her IBM career, Sowmya moved to the Db2 Tools team to continue her modernization efforts on this even larger portfolio of ISPF-based products. At about this time, a new generation of application development frameworks began to emerge that enabled Sowmya to expand her definition of “modernization” from merely streamlining ISPF screens to designing solution-centric user experiences based on how users of varying skill levels might interact with a mainframe application. Sowmya’s career has evolved in tandem with these technical advances, and she’s applied her knowledge to all of her major projects over the past 10 years, including:
- Cloud Pak for Data, where her contributions helped application developers to provision sandbox development environments with little to no administrative overhead. This project involved brand new technology and a high level of collaboration with the infrastructure team.
- The integration of IBM Db2 Analytics Accelerator for z/OS functionality into IBM strategic user interfaces: IBM Data Studio, Data Server Manager, and IBM Db2 Administration Foundation.
- The massive progress made so far in transforming the user experience for Db2 for z/OS application developers and database administrators and for defining the Db2 Tools integration roadmap based on validated use cases.
Over the past 10 years, Sowmya has developed a great understanding for the critical role that the mainframe plays in business, government, and many other aspects of modern society and is passionate about contributing to its evolution.
Going forward and in addition to her current responsibilities, Sowmya intends to promote the standardization of infrastructure provisioning across her development teams, to work more closely with the larger Z systems team to ensure that Db2 for z/OS is in perfect alignment with the overall Z ecosystem, and to ensure that future releases of our Db2 Tools portfolio products deliver the features and capabilities that are most valuable to Db2 for z/OS clients.