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IBM i Updates During COVID-19 Spring

IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will shares how his team is adjusting to the pandemic and keeping client needs and education at the forefront.

Illustration of people around a table from above.

Disruptions! For a few years now, the technology community has been using the word “disruptive” to describe new technologies (like the smartphone), new business models (like ridesharing) and new monetary models (like cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and microloans). These things bring a fundamental change to the way technology is applied, to opportunities and to competition.  These are, in a certain sense, disruptive.
But now we know what real disruption is. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, disruption has become so pervasive, it’s hard to even identify areas of life that aren’t disrupted.
The entire IBM i team at IBM has been told to work from home. That’s certainly a disruption. I won’t minimize the effect that has—very few of our home offices have the all the same qualities as our work offices, and many us now have childcare responsibilities in the home.  

Here’s a selfie I took (on St. Patrick’s Day) in my home office. I love working here, from time to time, but it’s not the same as being able to talk to my colleagues face-to-face, and certainly not the same as being at conferences with you!

However, we continue to get our IBM i-related work done.  

Though my blog schedule says I should be writing about the next class of Fresh Faces, I thought it might be worthwhile to write instead about what’s going on with the IBM i team, particularly as it relates to getting you new, useful information this spring. So, that’s the topic today.

IBM i Spring Updates

As we’re all aware, by now, the events which were on the calendar for the next several months have almost all been cancelled or rescheduled. Personally, I would have been in Colombia, Florida (twice), Georgia, Ohio, France, Minneapolis—and somewhere else I’m forgetting. Plus, we have client briefings scheduled for here in Rochester. All but three of those have been canceled as of this writing, and I expect all of them to be gone before too long.

However, even though the events have been cancelled, the IBM i team continues to march toward delivering new Technology Refreshes (we do one each spring and one each fall). And, we’re creating very useful educational material, which was intended to be presented at the COMMON POWERUp, IBM Technical University, the RPG & DB2 Summit, COMMON Europe Congress and Think conferences, as well as at business partner events throughout the community.

We still want to get that information out to the IBM i community. We know your lives have been disrupted, too. We also anticipate that your places of work are probably still trying to serve your client base, and that the need for your IT shops to be delivering services is as critical now as it has ever been. When you’re forced to work from home, work with social distance or work in isolation, you will have your own challenges keeping up with what you need to learn.

We’re working right now with a multilayer plan for doing webcasts. We will have a schedule, soon to bring you a short series of webcasts (Five? Six? Eight?), which will cover topics we would have highlighted at the events. Then, we will be working with the event organizers to get a broader set of presentations delivered via recorded webcasts, to satisfy the learning needs of our community as best we can until we are all able to gather in person again.   

So, how will you find out about these webcasts?

Well, I expect we’ll advertise them on the IBM i homepage ( but let’s be honest, most of you don’t visit there very often. What you’ll want to do is to follow key people on social media. I will certainly announce them on Twitter (@Steve_Will_IBMi), as will Brandon Pederson (@BPED07). 

(If you have not started using Twitter yet, now is the time. Just follow me and the #IBMi hashtag. Start small. You won’t be overwhelmed.) 

I will also announce the webcasts on LinkedIn. I suspect some people who follow me on those media will share the news in other ways. We can probably get IBM Systems Magazine and IT Jungle to mention them. And it’s quite likely a user organization will be involved, so they will advertise these as well.

We’re also discussing other ideas. Tim Rowe and Scott Forstie have started a series of short videos demonstrating how to do things with Access Client Solutions. We might do more of that. We’re wondering if live streaming of Q&A sessions might be useful. I have several blog topics I want to write about. You’re welcome to give us feedback of ideas you would find helpful.

Stay in Touch

In short, while the world is being disrupted by COVID-19, there will be new things to talk about related to IBM i, and we have plans to continue bringing you new enhancements and new information. 

I know, this is not the most critical thing in your life. Let’s be fair—it’s not the most critical thing in my life either. I have family responsibilities like you do. (I’ve had at least one grandchild in my house during the workdays ever since “work from home” started.) Some of you are helping your clients remain in business during this disruption.  Some of you are working with non-profits or neighborhoods or faith organizations to help those who need it. But IT work goes on, and so we keep moving forward. We do it differently. We adapt. But we move forward. 

Until next time, I hope all of you are able to stay safe and healthy.  

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