Jeff Carey – COMMON BoD Candidate 2011

Ed note: The following is a post by guest author Jeff Carey who is a candidate for the COMMON Board of Directors.

I’ve been a proud member of COMMON for almost 20 years now and a volunteer for about 6. Attending my first meeting in 1993 in New Orleans, I was struck with seeing a cross section of the (what was then) AS/400 world. Coming from a small shop at the time, I was thrilled to see that yes there were those with the same issues as I had. I was even more thrilled to find out some answers that helped me. I, for the first time in my professional life, felt part of a community.

Much has changed since then. Electronic communication has become the norm instead of the exception. The AS/400 went from a successful star of IBM to the “best kept secret” of IBM i.

But the need to connect with others and to succeed by leveraging the experience of each other has never been greater.

“Doing more with less” has become less of a mantra and more of the default method these days. That leaves people with precious little time to go outside of the routine tasks and explore new skills and ways of doing things, just when that ability is the most critical. We need to find ways to “work smarter, “ but who was the time?

COMMON is first a solution to that problem. The Annual Meeting and the conference allow members to gather and get top-notch education and most importantly to share their experiences. It has always seemed to me that a week at the COMMON Meeting was like months of pouring over online discussions and technical documents.

Chances are you, like me, had some interesting times the last couple of years (or at least thought you might!). COMMON was a constant through that time really helped me keep current and on track.

COMMON is also a way for people to help each other. COMMON events and offerings aren’t just things presented by a group, they are things created through the effort of fantastic volunteers.

When I mentioned to someone that I had been on the Board of Directors of COMMON and was running again, they asked me (quite seriously), “Why would you do that?”

Honestly, it was a question that took me aback a bit. From those first days, the excitement of this community really grabbed me as it did so many others. But really, why? It involved a lot of time and effort.

The answer, when I examined it, was the community. I, like probably most of you reading this, always took pride in my work. I know I became better at my job because of the people I’ve met and things I’ve learned through COMMON. I wanted that to continue. That seems even more important these days, when COMMON’s health and well being is not a foregone conclusion.

Then it struck me. COMMON is us. All of us. The person attending an event just to get some needed education. The volunteer giving their time and talent. The person reading this (and hopefully going on to cast their vote or reminding their COMMON representative to do so). The company having its employees attend virtual education.

COMMON is you. COMMON is me. COMMON is “i.”

7 replies on “Jeff Carey – COMMON BoD Candidate 2011”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Could you tell us if you have plans regarding getting “new blood” onto the platform? I am hoping we can find ways to expose the next generation of college grads to IBM i, but right now I don’t feel they have a way to do that and I am hoping COMMON can be a stop gap for that by somehow allowing people to have access to IBM i in the cloud.

    Thanks,
    AaronBartell.com

  2. Aaron,

    That is a great question. I do agree there is a “greying” of COMMON. I think this is indicative of an overall greying in IT. IT careers have become more of a commodity and thus are not commanding the talent they once did. Coming out of school, fewer and fewer want to be in a profession with so little security and seemingly decreasing earning potential.

    Few could argue that the IBM i is not an IT market leader, so this effect is even more magnified as even fewer of the candidates who choose IT choose IBM i.

    COMMON has been and I think can increasingly help this issue. One clear way is continued support of Young i Professionals ( http://www.youngiprofessionals.com/ ), an independant group that COMMON was instrumental in forming and nuturing. Additionally, the broad-based education COMMON provides is great for those learning the platform. COMMON has also partnered with Manta ( http://www.mantatech.com/ ) to provide discounts on even more education, including some of the very basic education not often seen at COMMON events.

    What COMMON needs to do is continue to get the word out on these opportunities. COMMON’s efforts through the COMMON Education Foundation have helped this, as I believe the COMMON certification program will as well. This program is being marketed to IT professionals in general, but can’t help but raise awareness of COMMON and what it offers for those choosing the IBM i platform.

    I think too that opportunities for IBM i professionals of all ages to meet and share experiences are invaluable to this effort. Sometimes meeting the right person can have much more of a profound effect on a career than hundreds of hours of education. There are opportunities and I believe COMMON is well suited to build upon the sucesses it has had achieve even greater sucess in the future.

    So the short answer is that COMMON needs to do more! COMMON needs to continue to work with efforts that target young IT professionals and with educational institiutions to educate on the platform and to encourage folks to see it as a platform that IBM is invested in and that can still provide a very satisfactory career.

  3. Thanks for the reply, Jeff.

    I am wondering if you can expound on this point:

    >IT careers have become more of a commodity and thus are not commanding the talent they once did. Coming out of school, fewer and fewer want to be in a profession with so little security and seemingly decreasing earning potential.

    Obviously everybody has had different experiences, but I am curious what yours has been regarding “little security”. The economy has had an effect on things, so security will be relative for nearly all professions, but outside of the economy, I still think IT is an excellent choice of profession.

    >One clear way is continued support of Young i Professionals ( http://www.youngiprofessionals.com/ ), an independant group that COMMON was instrumental in forming and nuturing.

    I should note that I am one of the primary three on the “YiPs board” along withy Justin Porter and Brian May. I would love to see how we could partner with COMMON even more to get additional exposure of IBM i to the general public. Right now there is just no way for somebody to easily experience IBM i that I have found, and it all seemingly comes back to IBM licensing.

    >COMMON needs to continue to work with efforts that target young IT professionals and with educational institiutions

    This area already has a solid start with the IBM Academic Initiative (Linda Grigoleit). But the issue is that a graduate will only have access to an IBMi machine if they are hired by an employer that owns an IBMi machine – they can’t go out an configure their own reasonably costed machine over the weekend to host their own web servers and code like they can do with Windows and Linux machines.

    That’s where we need to get IBM i in the cloud more prominent and reasonably priced. Can COMMON help with that?

    The candidate that has a real plan for the future of getting IBM i more available to the next generation is the one I will be voting for.

    AaronBartell.com

  4. Aaron – great points! Yes it is a problem with the platform that much of it can only be fully uderstood while working on it. For very little cost someone can being to work with Linux or Windows and learn much that can be extrpolated to related platforms.

    I think there is a great cloud intiative out there (http://www.idevcloud.com/) to deliver serious IBM i power at a very reasonable cost. Efforts like that are very important. I’d like to see if we can get IBM’s involvement in more efforts such as this. As most of us have come to know, the more one works with IBM i, the more one tends to love it!

    I’d love to explore ways we can get IBM out there more. The COMMON virtual labs are another step in this direction. The good thing is that communication and virtualization technology are making the possibility of giving everyone who wants it access to IBM i more possible.

    It’s a great point and one that I do think is key to moving the platform forward.

  5. Jeff – iDevCloud.com is a great initiative but can only be used for educational purposes (i.e. you can use it to host your own website if it isn’t for learning purposes – this is because of iDevCloud’s agreement with IBM). Sure there are a number of existing IBM i enthusiasts willing to pay $50/month (3 month minimum) for learning, but what of the person not yet connected with COMMON or with an IBM i business or with a user group? For those people they won’t even consider paying to be introduced to a platform they have never heard of.

    I should mention that I am not aiming this effort at existing RPG programmers because many of them aren’t interested, and I am therefore wanting to aim the effort at “new blood” that has a vibrant thirst for trying new things and will do so if somebody gives them some keys and easy, reasonably priced, access. $50/ month for a single library is NOT a reasonable price if you are comparing it to other offerings out there in the Linux/Windows virtual instance world. I can get an entire Linux virtual instance for $65/month from hosting.com

    I agree that the virtualization technologies IBM has put together is great. The unfortunate part is that “timeshare” type vendors can’t get their pricepoints down very far because of how IBM chooses to license (i.e. they want to make all their money up front).

    Hope to see you at COMMON!

    AaronBartell.com

  6. You make some excellent points, and I am not sure if there is an easy answer. It is a b it of chicken/egg problem – how to attract people to learn the platform that they perceive as having less demand and how to create demand for a platform many are not familiar with?

    It won’t happen overnight, but I do believe COMMON can be a help in the effort and I just ask if you agree for your support in my candidacy.

  7. >I just ask if you agree for your support in my candidacy.

    Being willing to talk things through, like you have here, gives you high marks in my book. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    AaronBartell.com

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