The Buzz


Jul 20, 2010

IBM Systems Magazine Vested in Social Media

By Evelyn Hoover

In the spring and summer of 2009, MSP Communications, my employer and the publisher of IBM Systems Magazine, began a social media training program for its editors. At that time Twitter was new to me and most of my colleagues. Facebook was viewed as a personal endeavor and blogs, well, we already had several blogs on

My how times have changed for IBM Systems Magazine since that training was offered.

About a year ago, we launched Twitter accounts for the three areas of the website: ibmimag, aixmag and mainframemag. All three accounts are active with the editors tweeting five to six times per day using a mix of staff-written tweets and retweets of relevant information from IBM and other reputable sources.

More recently--last month in fact--we launched Facebook pages for the two magazines. At the Power Systems and Mainframe Facebook pages, you'll find Twitter feed content and a glimpse "behind the curtain" at what the editors are working on or planning. We also envision the pages becoming a strong venue for interaction with readers.

In the past two years, we have launched a total of six blogs on and plan to launch another customer-authored blog shortly. We are also hoping to add additional AIX and Mainframe blogs before the end of the year.

The digital versions of the magazines will also be socialized very soon. Our digital magazine technology platform, Nxtbook, now offers the capability for readers to comment on articles within the digital magazine. We are looking into this capability and plan to add it later this year. Nxtbook has also added a button that enables readers to "like" a magazine on Facebook. This feature should be rolled out with our magazines
very soon.

Much has changed and continues to evolve at the magazines with regard to social media. Please read and share our blogs, like the magazines on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter. We are trying very hard to reach the largest number of IBM Power and Mainframe customers possible with our message. If you have any suggestions for how to improve the magazines (print, digital, online), we are always open to suggestion. Also what social media avenue do you think we should explore next? Please comment below.

Jun 22, 2010

Satisfying Internal Customers Still Top Concern in COMMON Europe Survey

By Evelyn Hoover

Satisfying internal customers remains at the top of COMMON Europe's Top Concerns survey. Conducted online in May and June and in person at COMMON Europe last week, the survey included responses from 572 customers, business partners/ISVs and IBMers from Europe, Americas, Africa and Australasia.

The second most cited concern was keeping skills current for existing staff. Last year this concern was fifth on the list. Rounding out the top 10 was (information in parenthesis indicates last year's rank):

3. Attract the younger generation to IBM i (10)
4. Do fast application development to fulfill business needs (7)
5. Ensure complete high availability (not listed)
6. Receive consistent high-quality service and support from vendors (4)
7. Treat data security and confidentiality as a business risk (2)
8. Implement web-oriented architectures (not listed)
9. Attract senior executives to IBM i (not listed)
10. Improve data quality (not listed)

Of the 389 customers who responded, 8 percent reported increased operating budgets. Another 51 percent said their budgets were stable; 25 percent had decreased budgets. Capital expenditure budgets were showing an increase for 16 percent of respondents. Forty-two percent had stable cap ex budgets and another 27 percent said those budgets had decreased.

When asked about migrations planned or completed in 2010, of the 343 customers who responded, no one had migrated to IBM i 7.1, although 10.5 percent said they planned to do so and another 37.1 percent said they may do so. Migrating to IBM i 6.1 is much further along with 28 percent saying they had already done so. Another 30.9 percent planned to do so.

Only 2 percent of customers who responded had already migrated to POWER7 hardware with 5.8 percent planning to do so and 28 percent considering the move. BladeCenter migration has been done by 4.7 percent with a few more planning to do so (3.8 percent).

Survey demographics show most respondents were from Europe (373) with 137 from Americas, 41 from Africa and 10 from Australasia. The remaining 11 did not provide that information. Sixty-three respondents were below the age of 35. The bulk of survey takers were between 36 and 50 (281). Another 218 people were above age 50. The remaining 10 did not provide that information.

Totals surveyed: customers, 389; business partners/ISVs, 159; IBMers, 16; no information, 8.

Apr 13, 2010

Power Community Rallies to Bring Books to Impoverished South African Students

By Evelyn Hoover

Many of the readers of this blog rely on books and other media to keep their skills fresh. But if you had to make a choice, how many of you would buy books instead of food? I'm willing to bet not many. But that's just what a dedicated group of learners in South Africa was willing to do.

In response to the need for IBM i and RPG skills of some key clients in South Africa, IBM sent an instructor to the area to work with the clients to develop the needed skills. That project led to the IBM Academic Initiative partnering with South Africa's Vaal University of Technology (VUT) to provide an instructor, equipment and facilities for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who were interested in working on IBM i and AIX systems. Many of the students used their small travel allowance to buy the required books and went without food in some cases.

When Marinus Van Sandwyk, founder and CTO of Tembo Technology Lab and COMMON Africa volunteer, discovered that some students were willing to forgo food to spend their money on textbooks, he knew he had to help. Rather than go it alone, he sought help from the generous Power community.

Van Sandwyk appealed to 29th Street Press and MCPress to provide a set of textbooks and establish a lending library so the students can check the books out as they take their classes. Both publishers provided deep discounts and the authors of the textbooks donated their royalties to further decrease the cost. Finally, the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association user group donated some funds to help defray shipping costs.

"This is a great example of the entire Power community coming together to help increase skills," says Linda Grigoleit, worldwide program manager, Power systems Academic Initiative, IBM.

Mar 15, 2010

Employing the Net Generation

By Natalie Boike

At the SHARE Technology Conference in Seattle, Don Tapscott, author of “Grown Up Digital”  spoke of the impact of the “Net” Generation on the future. By his own definition, the Net Generation is composed of people, younger than 30 years old, who are “bathed in bits.” “They aren’t afraid of technology, just like you aren’t afraid of the refrigeration,” he explained to the audience.

Tapscott says this generation learns, plays and communicates differently than previous generations. Additionally, he believes the way members of this generation work is changing talent, collaboration and management for the better. He says the Net Generation doesn’t distinguish between networking, collaborating, working and having fun.

“The current employment-management style is to recruit employees, put them in a cube, treat them like Dilbert and take away their tools [e.g. Facebook, wikipedia and other online resources,” Tapscott says. The Net Generation, however, thrives on collaboration and constant performance feedback and has the ability to multitask more than older generations. He suggests, instead of banning social media from the workplace, companies can leverage those tools to achieve new business insight and improve customer satisfaction, citing Best Buy’s BSN (Blue Shirt Nation) as an example. Concerns with social media and other Net Generation tools can be easily mitigated with technology, Tapscott says.

As a member of the Net Generation, Taspcott’s message is exciting to think about. Many business processes continue simply because that’s the way things have always been done. What if, as Tapscott suggests, work could be fun? Does your company employ anyone who could be classified as a Net Generation member? How do they fit within your existing work structure? Are they shaking things up for the better?

Jan 19, 2010

The Work-Life Intersect

By Natalie Boike

When I started working on IBM Systems Magazine last fall, I never imagined that one day IBM servers would constantly be on my mind. While many people may take their work home with them, this may verge on neurotic.

For example, when I am out shopping, I look at the computer systems retail companies are using. Often there’s a classic IBM logo on the cash register or credit-card tablet. I’ll make a mental note for when I get home to check if the company is using an IBM Power Systems or System z server. This isn’t always a simple task, but it’s all in the name of a good success story to share as a case study in the magazine.

In the wonderful world of Twitter, I came across a user who you could consider just as neurotic as I am. (I mean this in the most polite way possible!) Kim Moutsos, who tweets @MainframeComm, has been compiling movies, TV shows and books that feature a mainframe. Not only did I find a kindred spirit through this post, but also in the user replies she received. For example, movies that mention a mainframe include “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Matrix.” And who can forget the classic “War Games?” Even today’s popular television shows like “Chuck” and “24” feature heavy-duty computers.

So how big is the intersection of your work-life Venn diagram? I challenge you to add to the list at And, if you have any suggestions for a case study, send them my way at [email protected].

Dec 14, 2009

IBM Systems Magazine Plans Big Changes in January

By Evelyn Hoover

The other night my husband and I were struggling to close our storm door because the closer wasn't working properly. We pushed the lock button on the closer release, we adjusted various settings, but the door just wouldn't close.

Determined to find a solution to the problem I went online with the door's manufacturer and read the installation manual. I have to say that the manual wasn't very helpful. Then I found a short tips article on four steps to try if your closer doesn't work properly. I read it, walked back to the door, made one adjustment and magically, the door closed. Thank goodness for that tip. My next option was to remove the closer altogether. Not optimal, certainly, but it would work.

As an information consumer, I wanted that tip right then and there. I didn't want to wait for an answer. If my storm door manufacturer had a magazine or newsletter, I would want it to explain the value proposition of the door, not how to get the closer to function properly.

Similarly, if you're a systems administrator or a developer, do you want to wait for an entire month to get the tips and information that can help you quickly maximize the return on your technology investment? As an IT manager or CIO, on the other hand, a monthly magazine can give you IBM server strategy and trends in a well-written and engaging manner.

It is with this in mind, that IBM Systems Magazine is altering the format of its two editions focused on Power Systems customers. Beginning in January, we will unify the Power Systems--AIX and Power Systems--IBM i publications into one monthly magazine. The content of the print and digital versions of the publication will be strategic in nature, aimed at IT managers and C-level executives.

Not only will the unified magazine better serve the diverse needs of the magazine's readership, it will also better support IBM's Power Systems unification strategy.

The technical content, which is currently found in the back of the magazines, will remain separated by operating system platform (IBM i or AIX) to better serve readers AND will be moved exclusively online in an easily searchable format. The amount of technical content will also increase as the number of Web-exclusive articles is expected to climb. These changes should make the magazine's Web site a one-stop shop for technical AIX or IBM i information.

We also plan to introduce a second IBM i e-mail newsletter in coming months to further augment the amount of IBM i specific information delivered to our readership.

So what does this mean for you if you subscribe to one of our current Power Systems editions? If your job description is within C-Level or IT management and you currently receive either the IBM i or AIX edition(s) you will continue to receive the newly unified magazine beginning with the January 2010 issue. However, if your job title falls outside of C-level or IT management, or if you want to ensure your status as a subscriber and receive the magazine monthly in 2010, subscribe today.

If all of these changes weren't enough, we will also be launching a major redesign of IBM Systems Magazine, Power Systems and Mainframe editions in January. Our first major remodel of IBM Systems Magazine in more than five years--it's overdue. When your January issue lands in the mail, you'll notice more variety in the headlines, a new nameplate on the front, more easily digestible short articles and spot articles, a new approach to some departments and much more. We hope you agree that the redesigned publications are much more reader friendly and look more graphical in nature.

We think the Power Systems unification along with the redesign of both publications will be a win for all readers. Let us know what you think.

Oct 14, 2009

Linux Implementations are Growing

By Natalie Boike

The Buzz around the System z Expo in Orlando, Fla. was definitely a positive one. IBM mainframe users seem optimistic about the platform, and they should be considering IBM’s continued investment in System z solutions.

The 650 plus attendees had their pick from more than 300 technical sessions and hands-on labs offering introductory and advanced knowledge about System z, z/OS, z/VM and Linux on System z. Nearly 40 sessions, the most in any track, were given specifically on Linux on System z.

Tom Rosamilia,  System z general manager, said in his keynote address that there are around 1,300 System z clients utilizing Linux, but  he expects that number to grow. He points to the fast provisioning, low cost and high virtualization capabilities that can be gained by implementing Linux on System z.

ISV growth in the Linux space supports Rosamilia’s prediction. He says there are about 3,500 ISV applications currently available for z/OS, and an additional 3,000 applications exist for Linux on System z.

IBM is also developing System z solutions that leverage the strength of Linux. I’ve been speaking with IBM employees who have some exciting news to share. You can get all of the details by reading our November/December issue.

Aug 04, 2009

It’s Cool to be Green

By Natalie Boike

Green Peace has been working to protect and conserve the environment since 1971. One of its more recent campaigns, the Cool IT Challenge, recently caught my attention. According to their Web site, the information and communications technology sector creates 2 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. However, its services and products have the potential to cut the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent.

The self-proclaimed goal of this project is to “turn IT industry leaders into climate advocates and solution providers.” In its May assessment, the site ranked IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano one of the most environmentally friendly corporation executives, but he received a ranking of only 29 out of 100.

Some of the good things IBM is already doing fall under the umbrella of its Smarter Planet initiative. From food and energy to public safety and healthcare, IBM has many ideas about how companies can make operations more efficient and productive.

One of the best side effects of going green is that it can save you some green as well. Upcoming issues of IBM Systems Magazine focus on environmental sustainability. Stay tuned as we showcase some of IBM’s initiatives and implementations and illustrate how you can make your IT infrastructure greener and save a little money too.

Jun 29, 2009

Tapping Into the Force

By Natalie Boike

I recently stumbled across the Web site for NeuroSky,a biosensor company that makes brain-computer interface technologies. Their primary product, the MindSet, “measures brainwaves to identify specific mental states and communicates these states as commands.”

Currently, this tool’s primary application is for video games and research devices. For example, a Force Trainer game is planned for release yet this summer. Plugging into the large fan-base of the Star Wars franchise, users employ the MindSet technology to move a training sphere up and down a tower: the ultimate test of a Jedi’s level of the “The Force.”

The buck doesn’t stop there. Those interested in applying this technology and creating a game or application can do so for free. NeuroSky offers a set of development tools you can download today. Languages directly supported include C/C++, C#, Java and J2ME. If you create an application the company deems appropriate, they’ll host and sell your program on their site, and return an undisclosed percentage of the sales back to you.

While it seems like the NeuroSky’s current focus is in the commercial arena, it seems there are multiple applications that could be quite pragmatic in the medical field and beyond. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on this technology as it evolves.

May 11, 2009

What Do You Buzz About?

By Evelyn Hoover

I’ve made a few forays into the blogging arena in the past by hijacking the iDevelop blog space from Jon Paris and Susan Gantner. While they graciously allowed me to do so, I knew it was time for something a little more structured and frequent. When a bunch of the editors and our publisher expressed an interest, we decided it was time to launch The Buzz.

I plan to blog about the kinds of things I read about—the intersection of technology and humanity. As an English major in college, I spent time in classes like British literature, American literature and other less concrete subjects. My career as executive editor of IBM Systems Magazine has taken me down the technology path for the past 10 years. It’s when these two subjects intersect that I typically find myself looking for an outlet to voice my opinions. For instance, the University of Virginia is using a supercomputer to model ancient buildings, artwork, etc. This is cool stuff, IMHO. I will also write about general technology topics that I find particularly interesting or noteworthy.

What about you, what do you want The Buzz writers to blog about? Feel free to post a comment and let us know.