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Day 2 of the Virtual 12th Annual Enterprise Computing Community Conference

This second day of the ECC conference was organized by 30-minute or 15-minute presentations. Some were offered one at a time whereas others were offered in a way that you had to pick one of the two.

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This is the second of two articles about the Enterprise Computing Community (ECC) conference. This year, the conference was hosted on a virtual platform instead of a F2F meeting at Marist College, as it has been done for the previous conferences. You might remember that the ECC is community created to revitalize undergraduate curriculum in enterprise computing.
 
This second day of the conference was organized by 30-minute or 15-minute presentations. Some were offered one at a time whereas others were offered in a way that you had to pick one of the two. Interestingly, you could always look at both if you had the time because the video-based presentations offered that flexibility.

The First Presentation

At 9 a.m., M Eitel Lauría, Edward Presutti and Eric Stenton from Marist College presented “A Two-stage Boosted Classification Framework for Improving Early Detection of Freshmen Attrition.”  
 
In this 15-minute presentation, the authors shared that they explored the use of a two-stage classification framework to improve predictions of freshmen attrition at the beginning of the spring semester. The study shows that improvement in predictive performance can be achieved when including the error measure as a predictor in the spring data set. The study imposed a limited group of classification algorithms. Although the experiments included state-of-the-art algorithms, a broader, less discretionary analysis is probably necessary. The purpose of the study at this preliminary stage is not to identify an optimal architecture, but rather to empirically test the validity and effectiveness of the proposed framework.

A Look at Google Glass

Next, there were two choices: Sudha Dhanwada from IBM presented “Getting Smart with z/OS® Security” and Piyush Garewal from Marist College presented “Emerging Technology That has Failed-The Fall of Google Glass.” I attended the session by Garewal.  
 
In this 15-minute presentation, Garewal  talked about Google Glass. He characterized it as a shining technology designed for the human face. He indicated that Google Glass delivers an unbeatable augmented reality experience that will undoubtedly have profound implications on how we interact with the world around us. Glass displays information in a hands-free format that can interact with the internet through natural language voice commands.
 
Garewal indicated that unfortunately, Google became caught up in the storm of its own making when it marketed Glass. The company wanted to capitalize on the hype, hope and potential of the product instead of selling reality. But Google Glass is a futuristic gadget that we have seen in recent times. It has the potential to prove as a useful technology for many people.  

Staying Safe With Help From AI

At 10 a.m., Markus Van Kemp from IBM presented “Being Socially Distant with AI.”
 
In his 12-minute talk, Van Kemp  discussed how we can use AI at our workplace to be socially distant, to stay safe. By using computer vision and sensors, we can detect safety equipment like face masks and goggles. AI also helps us keep our distance and to avoid crowds, as well as monitor our vital signs and temperatures. In this talk, he demonstrated how AI could help us with "getting back to work" during COVID-19 crisis.

Solving the COBOL/Mainframe Skills Gap

At 10:30 a.m., there were two choices: Philip Teplitzky from HP Marin & Touro College presented “Solving the COBOL/Mainframe Skills Gap” and Scott Sigalas from IBM presented “Introduction to IBM z/OS Container Extensions.” I attended the session by Teplitzky.  
 
In this 17-minute presentation, Teplitzky shared that the backbone of today's electronic commerce is COBOL on an IBM Z® computing platform. There are 240 billion lines of COBOL in operation, and another 5 billion new lines are added each year. About $3 trillion of commercial transactions are processed by COBOL applications each day. COBOL is what business runs on.  Some reports indicate that the 240 billion lines of COBOL code are the second most valuable assets in America, right behind oil. How did COBOL weather 60 years of technological evolution? Well, there are classes of information processing that are ideally suited for COBOL on a mainframe. Back-end, high-volume transaction processing must work correctly, securely and fast. If you must process several million transactions in a six-hour overnight batch window, IBM Z COBOL is what you use.  
 
Teplitzky indicated that the community of COBOL programmers is shrinking faster than the open positions they create can be filled. The average age of a COBOL programmer is 58, and roughly 10% are retiring each year. It’s estimated that there will be 84,000 unfilled mainframe positions this year. Very few schools still teach programming and even fewer teach COBOL, although there are boot camps teaching Java®, Python, and other languages. The Enterprise Computing Community has been active in reviving and supporting efforts to educate people in IBM Z technologies and languages. If we don’t replace or even expand the shrinking force of COBOL programmers, we will be left facing a tragic problem.

A Financial Viewpoint                       

Two more presentation options were available at 11 a.m. Paul Newton from IBM presented “Technology Trends and Issues, a Financial Viewpoint” and Daniel Yost and Casimer DeCusatis from Marist College presented “Lattice-Based Cybersecurity in the Quantum Era.” I attended the session by Newton.
 
Newton encouraged us to think of the entire organization: people, processes and services. He noted that the “cheaper” option is easy to measure with potential of being very expensive in the long run. Value requires insight to measure with the potential to be significantly less expensive while enabling high availability, scalability, competitive advantage, unparalleled data security and privacy for the businesses’ most critical data. Successful professionals know the value of quality and recognize enterprise computing and economies of scale when making IT decisions. Finally, “think autonomy” as data and digital services are competitive advantages and increasingly critical to business survival and growth.    

Protecting Machine Learning Systems

Next, Michael Guarino, Pablo Rivas and Casimer DeCusatis from Marist College presented “Towards Adversarially Robust DDoS Attack Classification.”  
 
The presenters from Marist shared that on the frontier of cybersecurity are a class of emergent security threats that learn to find vulnerabilities in machine learning systems. A supervised machine learning classifier learns a mapping from x -> y where x is an input feature vector and y is a vector of associated labels. Neural Networks are the state-of-the-art performers on most vision, audio and natural language processing tasks. Neural Networks have been shown to be vulnerable to adversarial perturbations of the input, which cause them to misclassify with high confidence. Adversarial perturbations are small, but targeted modifications to the input often go undetected by the human eye. Adversarial perturbations pose risk to applications that rely on machine learning models. Neural Networks have been shown to be able to classify distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by learning a data set of attack characteristics visualized using three-axis hive plots. In this work, the researchers presented a novel application of a classifier trained to classify DDoS attacks that are robust to the most commonly known classes of gradient-based and gradient-free attacks.
 
After this presentation, we had a lunch and fitness break encouraging us to select from four fitness videos created by Marist College students. These sessions were sponsored by Broadcom and Mainline.

‘Minecraft’ on z/OS

At 1 p.m., we had two new choices. Aaron Kippins, Michael Gildein, Bradley Huntington and Charles Ropes from IBM presented “ ’Minecraft’ on z/OS” and Clem Martins from Robust Designs presented “Zowe™: Can an Old z/OS Mainframer Learn New Tricks?” I attended the session on Minecraft.  
 
In this shorter presentation, the four presenters from IBM shared that in this modern age of gaming, new multiplayer online games are constantly being released. However, poor server management often mars the release of these titles. Developers need technology that scales better and can handle the large influx of I/O being driven to these systems during a new release and throughout a game’s lifespan. How do we properly and efficiently handle the hosting of these game servers? Traditional server farms and cloud-based options aren’t cutting it as of recent and can be very difficult to manage. A possible option that hasn’t been explored significantly is IBM Z.  
 
They shared that the IBM Z platform is responsible for running a large portion of the world’s infrastructure from banks, to airlines, even entire governments. In this presentation, they explore the possibility of running game servers on z/OS. “Minecraft” was chosen as the server of choice since it’s Java-based and very popular in today’s market.

Time for my Presentation 

At 1:30, I presented “Enterprise Middleware Software–Firmly Established Yet Transforming to Meet New Needs” and Misty Decker from IBM presented “A Whole New Master the Mainframe.”
 
The hypothesis of my 14-minute presentation is that middleware, although firmly established in enterprise computing, is yet growing to meet changing community wants and needs. Furthermore, software companies are using innovative approaches to align products with customer requirements and using rapid and
innovative ways to bring new functionality to the marketplace. I documented the following important middleware categories through research: database, application server, message, web, transaction processing monitors, remote procedure call, API, integration and portals. In addition to explaining the recent trends in enterprise middleware, I explored products from three of the above categories that demonstrate the dual aspects of well established yet innovative in the pursuit of adding new product capabilities.

Trusted Identity Management System Using Blockchain

Another two options became available at 2 p.m. Meghan McGrath from IBM presented “Counting Beans: Changing Financial Infrastructure in the Asia Pacific Region.” Kaylin Moss and Zacharie Happel from Marist College shared “Trusted Identity Management System Using Blockchain.” I attended the blockchain session.  
 
In this 8-minute presentation, Moss and Happel indicated that in the modern digital age, we’re faced with a variety of security concerns related to identity theft, impersonation and forgery of electronic identification information. They discussed a proposal to replace physical ID cards with a secure digital alternative that could
be managed with a smartphone. The approach is based on IBM’s decentralized framework known as Trusted Identity, and in particular, a software application called Verify Credentials, which acts as a digital wallet.
 
Personal identifying information is stored on a blockchain database, which is inherently tamper resistant. They described a pilot program between IBM and Marist College, the exclusive academic partner for Trusted Identity, to replace college student ID cards with digital identities. They’re developing new credential schemes and adapting the architecture necessary to integrate digital identifies with legacy campus security systems. The project goal is to strengthen campus security while decreasing costs and enhancing the student user experience.

Data Virtualization for all Things Intelligent

At 2:30 p.m., Marc Hobler from Mainline Information Systems presented “Data Virtualization for all Things Intelligent.”  
 
In this 16-minute presentation, Hobler describes the evolution of data warehouses, data lakes and the emergence of a new modern data architecture made possible through data virtualization. He examined not only the platform differences, but also people and process opportunities that are essential to any new platform disruption, including more Agile data quality, governance and operations capabilities. He concluded that enterprises that are able to find the most optimal balance of data agility and data quality will be able to turn their data into a true competitive advantage.

Introduction to Zowe

At 3 p.m., Michael Bauer from Broadcom presented “Introduction to Zowe, The First Ever Open-Source Mainframe Project.”  
 
In this 15-minute presentation, Bauer explained that Zowe is an open-source project created to host technologies that benefit the Z platform from all members of the Z community (ISVs, system integrators and z/OS consumers). This introductory presentation included a general overview, information on how to leverage and extend the components, and several popular use cases including bringing DevOps to the mainframe. Zowe is hosted by the Open Mainframe Project under the Linux® foundation.

IBM Z and LinuxONE Skills

Later, Shelly Meierarend and Jeff Bisti from IBM presented “IBM Z and LinuxONE® Skills-IBM Academic Initiative Presentation.”  
 
In this 20-minute presentation, the presenters discussed how the academic initiative helps to build the next generation of enterprise operations skills by attracting talent and hiring them, in addition to training, growth, retention and succession steps.

IBM Watson

At 4 p.m., Abdullah A. Jassim and Saifuldeen A. Mohammed from the University of Baghdad presented “New Initiative-Watson™ for Enterprise Firmware and Hardware Management.” Here are some main points from the description of the presentation.
 
In this 20-minute presentation, Jassim and Mohammed explained that cognitive computing and deep learning are essential in modern and futuristic enterprise solutions. These solutions are either cloud computing or cloud, fog, and edge computing, which need efficient management for software, firmware and hardware resources.
 
The main goal of their research is starting a new initiative for applying the deep autonomic intelligence to firmware and hardware. Jassim and Mohammed shared that until now, most projects treat the firmware and hardware as static elements and limit recording of dynamic changes mainly in regards to software. They shared that IBM Watson handles almost all fields relating to firmware and hardware, which will push this initiative ahead to generalize the solution.

The Right Tools for z/OS

At 4:30 p.m., Daniel Jast from IBM presented “Using Modern Tooling to Automate the Deployment of Applications and Middleware on Z.”  
 
In this 18-minute presentation, Jast explained the zModernization technical showcase is a collection of multiple demos and use cases built into a single environment. He explained how the client experience center provisions and configures z/OS middleware and applications in seconds. With the tools Ansible, Jenkins, Zowe, OpenShift®, z/OSMF, z/OS Connect and more, developers can start interacting with z/OS like we would any other cloud environment.

Two Great Days About Enterprise Computing

It was an interesting conference. The people of Marist made it look easy! In addition to the high quality presentations, the conference had the added benefit of being able to hear more than one presentation from the same time slot. I would definitely do this again.

Next Post

Next week, I’ll resume a series on systems-management that I started in May. The first two posts were centered on IMS Systems Management Suite and IMS SolutionPacs. Next, I’ll explore CICS® systems management.
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