Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori está en el extremo derecho)

English version

Unos días antes de Navidad…

Me llegó un mail de IBM anunciando los resultados del concurso Master the Mainframe Sudamérica 2012. Con mucha ansiedad abrí el mail, y recibí la grata sorpresa de que había terminado en el primer puesto. Realmente no lo esperaba, ya que fue un concurso con muchas tareas desafiantes, y una gran cantidad de participantes de toda latinoamérica.
El día de la entrega de premios en el edificio de IBM, también me sorprendí al encontrarme con algunos conocidos: el segundo lugar en fue para un compañero de la facultad de Ingeniería de la UBA, al cual había invitado al concurso y charlamos al inscribirnos. También me encontré con otro conocido, un ex-compañero de trabajo, quien estudia en la UTN. El mundo de sistemas es muy chico, y más todavía el de Mainframe: uno siempre se vuelve a encontrar con viejos compañeros.

El tratamiento “VIP”

El premio por obtener el primer lugar, consistía en un viaje a la planta de IBM en Poughkeepsie, el cual estuvo estupendo. La planta es enorme, como una mini ciudad, que posee instalaciones donde se fabrican integralmente todos los equipos: desde la confección de los circuitos y ensamble, hasta el testeo, puesta a punto y envío a los clientes. Lo que más me asombró de toda la instalación, es el aprovechamiento que realizan del agua fría del río Hudson: a través de tuberías se ingresa el agua fría a las instalaciones, la cual se utiliza para refrigerar todo tipo de equipos e instalaciones: funcionamiento de los mainframes, servidores y un Green Data Center. Pude apreciar que todos los edificios contaban con cañerías con agua fría a disposición, y debajo de todos los pisos flotantes había conexiones de agua para conectar directamente a los equipos. Es de resaltar que esta utilización del agua es totalmente ecológica, ya que es devuelta al río sin ninguna alteración ni modificación, apenas unos grados de diferencia de temperatura. Y además permite ahorrar mucha electricidad en equipos de refrigeración.

Los otros ganadores

En Poughkeepsie me encontré con los ganadores del concurso de otros países: los tres primeros puestos de EEUU y Canadá, y el ganador de España. Quiero destacar también la gran hospitalidad y amabilidad de todos los empleados de IBM con que nos recibieron a los ganadores, quienes dedicaron dos días a enseñarnos y contarnos sus tareas en la planta, y charlar con nosotros sobre la tecnología actual y todas las dudas que tuviésemos sobre lo que hacen.
Creo que fue una experiencia muy enriquecedora tanto para mi carrera profesional como para mi vida, ya que pude conocer a muchas personas importantes e interesantes de la industria y sus profesiones, a la vez que compartir su cultura y ofrecer un poco de la propia.


Muchas gracias por la oportunidad, y hasta el próximo encuentro!


Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori, Argentina far right)

Versión española

A few days before Christmas…

I got an email announcing the results IBM Master the Mainframe Contest South America 2012.  With much anxiety I opened the mail , and I received the pleasant surprise that I was in the first place .  I really did not expect it , as it was a competition with many challenging tasks , and a large number of participants from throughout Latin America .

The day of the awards ceremony in the IBM building, I was also surprised to meet some acquaintances : the second place went to a fellow of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires , whom he had invited to the contest and talked to enroll.  I also met by another acquaintance , a former co-worker, who studies at NTU.  The world is very small, and even more so the Mainframe : you always reconnects with old friends .

VIP Treatment

The prize for getting first place , was on a trip to the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie , which was great.  The plant is huge, like a mini city, with facilities that manufacture integrally all the teams: from the manufacture of circuits and assembly; testing; commissioning; and delivery to customers.

What amazed me about the entire system is using cold water from the Hudson River.  Cold water enters through pipes throughout the facility cooling all kinds of equipment and facilities : operation mainframes, servers and Green Data Center.  I could see that all buildings had cold water pipes on hand, and under all floating floors had water connections to connect directly to computers.  It is noteworthy that this water is completely organic, as it is returned to the river without any alteration or modification, only a few degrees difference in temperature.  And it saves a lot of electricity on refrigeration equipment.

The Other Winners

In Poughkeepsie I found the winners from other countries : the top three U.S. and Canada , and the winner of Spain.  I noted also the great hospitality and friendliness of all IBM employees that greeted the winners, who devoted two days to teach us and tell us your tasks on the ground, and chat with us about current technology and all the doubts that we had about what they do .

I think it was a very enriching experience both for my career and for my life, since I was able to meet many interesting and important people in the industry and the professions, while sharing their culture and offer some of their own.

Thank you very much for the opportunity , and until we meet again !

In discussions on efforts to combat the impending mainframe skills shortage, programs such as the IBM Academic Initiative and the Master the Mainframe Contest typically play center stage.  The Millennial Mainframer team has already written about the positives and negatives in the design and execution of these programs, but as with most articles on these topics, we have largely hitherto neglected discussing one of the most critical determinants of the success of training and hiring new Millennial Mainframers: corporate partnerships.

Some quarters seem to have a “Field of Dreams” attitude towards mainframe education.  The thought is that if IBM creates new and fresh (and preferably free) mainframe training materials presented in a millennial-friendly way, then bright young minds will become Millennial Mainframers to take the place of retiring mainframers.  In other words, “if you build it, [they] will come.”

However, based on my experience designing an IBM Academic Initiative course, I’ve learned that this is a fallacious line of reasoning because universities are very sensitive to the utility of new courses they introduce, particularly those that are tied to specialized proprietary technologies, like the IBM mainframe. For a new course to be approved by a department chair, a certain number of students must sign up to generate enough tuition revenue to cover the expense of offering the course.  If insufficient students sign up, then the course is cancelled.  Because universities exist off student tuition, they are incented to offer the sorts of courses that students want to take.  The central thought problem with solving the mainframe skills shortage via the IBM Academic Initiative is therefore the following question:

Why would an eighteen to twenty-one year old student want to pursue coursework in mainframe technologies rather than courses in web design, mobile app development, etc.?

Based on the experiences of successful IBM Academic Initiative universities, the resounding answer to this question is that a certain type of college student chooses to study mainframe technologies when they perceive that graduates that have taken mainframe courses have achieved higher job placement rates and satisfaction than students that have pursued other specializations.  This means that the success of any mainframe training program is  100% tied to its ability to train and place students in high-paid technical positions at a rate that exceeds the career prospects of other technical specializations.  Absent external support, this is a tall order for an educator of any kind, particularly given the general ignorance about mainframe computing among millennials and Computer Science academics.

I therefore propose that the only way to ensure this sort of success is through deep partnership between training programs and the Fortune 1000 corporations that will ultimately need to hire Millennial Mainframers to keep their critical IT infrastructure running.  By demonstrating a high-level commitment to the mainframe for the foreseeable future and directly supporting mainframe courses and training programs through joint marketing, internships  / co-ops, and a commitment to hire graduates that complete these courses, leaders of the Fortune 1000 companies that depend on mainframes can shape the thinking of millennials and encourage them to consider becoming a Millennial Mainframer.

I recently learned that MetLife has done precisely that through their collaboration with the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest.  Much of this work has been spearheaded by a forward-thinking MetLife Vice President named David Ditillo.  Recognizing MetLife’s decision to build a technology center in Raleigh and the need to begin to build a pipeline of technology talent, David reached out to the IBM Academic Initiative to learn how MetLife could partner with IBM’s efforts to help ensure a consistent pipeline of Millennial Mainframers.

One of the results of this collaboration is the following video:

There are a number of remarkable aspects to this video which I think clearly demonstrate the fantastic job opportunities for new Millennial Mainframers at MetLife.  If you listened closely to this video, you learned the following:

  • The “Mainframe will continue to be the bedrock of technology at MetLife; the foundation on which innovation, technology, and business grows.”
  • “The Mainframe is a Powerhouse,” which suggests that “if you’re into power computing and IT, then the mainframe is the place that you need to be!”
  • MetLife envisions that technological excellence will be driven by “bringing together Mainframe and Emerging Technology and taking those solutions to places never though possible.”
  • “The mainframe is a dynamic platform… [that] IBM is evolving to be mainstream, for instance… [through] Java.”

Most importantly, David Ditillo expressed the thought that as “the future of technology,” the training and recruitment of Millennial Mainframers is critical to driving the next generation of innovators capable of synthesizing mainframe and emerging technologies into solutions to allow them to leapfrog over their competitors.  For this reason, David and the rest of the MetLife team “would love the opportunity to have you part of our MetLife family.”  Indeed, MetLife has already begun hiring Millennial Mainframers.  One of these was Natalie Chalco, a recent hire that explained her decision to join MetLife as follows:

“Right now MetLife Technology is undergoing a huge change.  They are… becom[ing] leading edge.  I have the opportunity to get my hands in.  Being new the field, it was a great opportunity to me.”

If you are interested in learning more about mainframe opportunities at MetLife, I would highly suggest checking out their synapse web site.  The design for the site is fantastic, and I highly approve of the way that they portray their mainframer:

metlife mainframer