I was able to attend the IBM Technical University that took place May 22-26 in Orlando, FL, USA.
The IBM Technical Universities provide in-depth technical training for IBM Systems solutions to help to grow attendees skills.
The agenda included more than 600 information-packed technical sessions delivered by top IBM developers and experts.

The opening session led by Amy Hirst featured Christopher Schnabel who presented about “The Quantum Age”.
The Quantum Age

A very interesting talk about IBMs progress in the Quantum Computing area.
Christopher explained with the help of examples why quantum computing is important for us.
Quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be found and the number of possibilities that we need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous ever to be processed by classical computers.
Christopher talked about the difference of a bit and a qubit and he also explained, how quantum computer work.
If this gained your interest, have a look at the following page: http://research.ibm.com/ibm-q/ and select the “Learn” Button.

Right after the opening session the individual elective Sessions and Labs started.
As I’m part of the IBM Spectrum Scale Team, I attended most of the Spectrum Scale related sessions. I found those to be very helpful, for our customers, but also for myself!

Why helpful for customers?

The sessions included several 101’s.
In example an IBM Spectrum Scale 101 session provided by Tomer Perry.
Tomer explained in small steps and very comprehensible a complex topic: Clustered Filesystems. He provided insides about what a clustered file systems is.
Tomer talked about the different Spectrum Scale Managers such as in example Cluster, Filesystem, Token Mangers.
He explained how advanced functionalities such as filesets, snapshots, ILM/HSM, AFM, encryption, compression are implemented in Spectrum Scale.
Overall a very valuable session.
There were a couple of similar sessions throughout the week.
Those sessions also gave guidance on how to work with the IBM products. In example the session “How to design an IBM Spectrum Scale solution”.
Further, always a highlight on such events are the talks from Sven Oehme. He talked about the latest and greatest of Spectrum Scale’s performance and in which projects the full power of Spectrum Scale is used.

In addition to the Lecture session, also Lab sessions were provided.
Examples are: Spectrum Scale: Problem determination lab, Spectrum Scale GUI lab.
Hands on guidance, that as per the attendees feedback, was very helpful.

Similar sessions were also given for many other Software and Hardware products (Power / z Systems, Storage).

Throughout the week, I was able to give the following talks:

SharpCar cognitive automotive platform to elevate the driving experience

The presentation described a Cognitive Build project that IBM had created for the employees. It helped us to explore the Watson / Bluemix cognitive capabilities and allowed us to create working solutions for real problems.
With SharpCar we demonstrated, how Watson can help to elevate the driving experience and how it can help to make better driving decisions.
I explained with the help of an example what is meant by cognitive.
Next I explained the steps we followed to build a solution for our idea to connect Watson with our car. Which Watson / Bluemix services did we select, which services need time for training / learning.
I presented the code that we developed to glue all the services together.
Following I gave a live demo, made a code change, deployed it and was able to show live the changed flow caused by the code change.
SharpCar cognitive automotive platform to elevate the driving experience

Transforming the data economics of OpenStack Swift object storage with tape

(Provided together with my colleagues Khanh Ngo and Takeshi Ishimoto)
With this session we explained, how Openstack Swift (which is a worldwide used object store) can be combined with HLM (High Latency Media) solutions, such as Tape. We have been working on a project, known as SwiftHLM, creating a bridge between object storage and tape storage for the further reduction of cost of data ownership.
We explained with the help of animations which issues arise if the latency of an underlying storage technology is high and how the SwiftHLM project (which is open sourced) helps to manage those.
(see the just released RedPaper: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/redp5430.html?Open for more details)
Transforming the data economics of OpenStack Swift object storage with tape

Evening Event:

As of the great organization and the very nice show, I do have to mention the evening event that happened Wednesday night.
We first went to the Universal Citywalk for some good food, drinks and music.
After that we saw the Blue Man Group show. Before the actual show started: It's amazing how much, in our todays multimedia 4k resolution world, one can thrill a crowd with just a couple of LED lettering signs and some very funny sentences running through, hilarious!


As of comments and feedback I received, the Technical University was very helpful for our customers and business partners, as they were able to receive technical details about our products at all levels. Reaching from high level overview sessions till deep dive / lab sessions including live demos and sample code presentation.

For me as part of the Development Organization it was also very valuable, as it allowed me to get in direct contact with (potential) customers and business partners, meet them face to face to get a feeling about their view of our products.
Meeting colleagues, I usually only see as a picture or video stream on my Laptop, now personally also was very helpful to deepen the relationship and to broaden my network.
We were able to discuss customer needs and further development, which very often also influences our roadmap.

As the above tells, we did not spend the time in any of the Disney parks and also the weather was not always sunny ;-).
Orlando Thunderstorm

Overall a very valuable week in Orlando!
Whenever you have the chance to attend an IBM Technical University, go for it!

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