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It’s All About “z” Community

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:41 PM

It has been almost a year since my last blog entry and a lot has happened since then, such as a rebranded mainframe (IBM z Systems) and new z13 mainframe, which appears to be a hit in the market so far (at least from a 1Q results perspective).

This blog however is not to tout how great the z Systems platform is, but how great the community is that work on or around the machine. In this writing I would like to briefly discuss two topics: the approaching VM Workshop and the need for you (the experienced reader) to think about helping today’s youth to prepare to fill your shoes when you are ready to retire.

VM Workshop

First, as I mentioned last year, the VM Workshop is an opportunity for IBM clients to get inexpensive education on z/VM, Linux on z Systems and, new this year, z/VSE! The event is three days of sessions June 25 to 27 at a per attendee cost of $100. Yes, for $100 you can get educated on one or all three of your favorite topics. But even better, for those of you who may no longer be in the business (retired or moved on) but still have a connection to the people you worked with, this is a way to not only get an infusion of the latest updates on a platform you love and connect or reconnect with colleagues from your mainframe past.

I have been to several SHARE and World Alliance of VSE VM Linux (WAVV) conferences where I have met attendees who were retired and traveled to the event to connect with community members, new and old. Well, the VM Workshop offers the same opportunity to connect (not at the scale of SHARE) with the community for that same $100. Did I mention some meals are included?

Unfortunately, last year I missed this event. However, this year I’ll be there, especially given the event will be at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. Since I worked at the Endicott VM lab for many years, I’m looking forward to seeing my old friends and colleagues who are both still working at the lab or enjoying retirement in that quiet, scenic town. For more details, visit the VM Workshop website.

IT Education

As for my second topic on youth and the mainframe, I speak from some experience when I tell you that unless you live in an IBM town, most high schoolers don’t know who IBM is, much less what they do, and extrapolating forward, what you do. Though I am retired from IBM, I participate in career days and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics conferences throughout the year (on IBM’s behalf) and talk to students about career opportunities not only at IBM, but with IBM’s z Systems customers and partners who will need to replace their aging workforce.

Most of the students (at least those interested in technology) are fascinated that they weren’t familiar with IBM, but even more so when we discuss the IBM mainframe and how they or their parents frequently interface with these machines on an almost daily basis (e.g., credit cards, stores, airlines, etc).

I have also been invited to both high schools and local colleges to do a presentation which is called “IT’s Best Kept Secret” which introduces the mainframe to students discussing why they are important to businesses as well as why they may be an important career opportunity for them should they want to pursue.

I’d like to leave you with one thought… participate! Think about going to your child’s middle or high school to talk about what you do and why the mainframe is important tool for you, your company and of course your company’s clients or customers.

I’d be happy to share “IT’s Best Kept Secret” with anyone who would like to use it, and as a bonus I will make time to walk you through the pitch too. Find the slides for the presentation here and feel free to email me at for more information.

Hope to see you at the VM Workshop, or some z community event in the future!

Marc Smith spent 28 of 33 years at IBM as a member of the mainframe z Systems community. He began his mainframe career working with VM/HPO and VM/ESA development before moving on to planning and managing VM Early Support Programs (ESPs), marketing z/VSE and z/VM until moving into marketing and channel enablement positions within the System z (now z Systems) hardware family. He is one of the team members who brought Destination z into existence and managed the online community until his retirement from IBM in 2012.

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