I recently started blogging for Destination z, and I thought I’d share how I, at less than 30 years old, ended up on System z and have been thriving with the technology. I find the system to be incredible in its strengths and a staple for any modern organization dealing with the increasing technology requirements tasked toward enterprise computing. You might be surprised, but I’m not alone. In fact, many companies and educational institutions are now teaching System z skills to a younger generation that can couple technology of the past with technology of tomorrow. Here’s how I ended up on z and how many new graduates are doing the same.
Not that long ago, about seven years to be exact, I was graduating from the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s of business administration and a concentration in information systems. My education had taught me nothing but the client server world and had brought through classes such as Java, .NET development, networking and database administration. Not once had I seen a green screen.
Throughout my time in college, while learning about these distributed-oriented technologies, I had been working my way up through a company and directly applied these skills. My last position prior to graduation was in Technical Support. This was great, and although I had started to see some green screens during my time supporting the devices, I still didn’t exactly know what a mainframe was or how it was different from what I was learning. All that was about to change.
With graduation quickly approaching, I began to really think about what I was going to do. Should I stay in Tech Support? Should I venture out into the real world and see if I could find an entry-level programming job in Java or .NET? It was during these thoughts that a program with my current employer came up, which was an opportunity to work on the mainframe.
At first, I didn’t know what to think. A mainframe? I wasn’t so sure about it and even went to Google to see what a mainframe was and how it worked. After a little reading, I was impressed. I took the promotion and became a System z performance analyst and the rest was history. Today, at exactly 30, I’m still working on System z and am a huge advocate. It’s been seven awesome years, and I’m not looking back.
This path to the mainframe, along with the reintroduction of System z skills at universities is becoming common. The growth of a younger generation of System z developers, architects and systems programmers is quickly popping up both in private organizations and public education forums. Companies, like the one I worked for, have realized there’s great talent within their walls that could help to enhance, modernize and leverage the new technology that the zEnterprise System has introduced in the past couple of years. Likewise, educational institutions are teaching skills such as COBOL and DB2 with great success through programs like the IBM Academic Initiative and Destination z.
Established in 2003, the Academic Initiative (AI) was created to respond to the industry’s demand for IT skills. AI offerings include course materials, tutorials, certifications, articles and Redbooks, as well as access to IBM middleware, hardware and tools, all at no charge. It also provides educational opportunities for faculty and IT staff.
Destination z is a community open to System z users, business partners, IBMers, educators and qualifying academic institutions. The collaborative community was put together to bring together System z news and information to the industry.
Learn more about the Academic Initiative and Destination z at the following links:
• Academic Initiative Community
• Academic Initiative Origin Video
• Academic Initiative/Destination z Schools
• Destination z
• System z Jobs Board
Dustin Shammo is a System z client architect with IBM Sales and Distribution.