Behind the scenes with tech trailblazers: Meet Richard Young

By | 4 minute read | July 6, 2020


Data privacy, security and cyber resiliency are among the top reasons why many of the world’s leading banks, governments, healthcare and insurance providers, and IT services companies rely on IBM mainframes. Richard Young is an Executive IT Specialist in IBM Systems Lab Services who’s spent his career mastering IBM mainframes and open source solutions, and helping IBM Z and LinuxONE clients achieve their business goals. He has an endless thirst for knowledge and shares his expertise with both clients and IBM colleagues by developing hands-on skills training on the finer points of system management, data encryption, Linux containers and much more. Read on to hear Richard’s unique perspective on where the mainframe has been and where it’s going.

When did you know you wanted to work in technology?

I’ve been interested in technology for as long as I can remember, but it grew when I was in college. Like many freshmen, I entered an engineering program without knowing for sure what I wanted to do, but I had a short list of several areas of interest (all technology based), and by the time I graduated I had a double major that included computer science.

How did you gain expertise on IBM Z and LinuxONE?

I first experienced IBM hardware working in my college computer lab (many generations before the current IBM Z or LinuxONE technology), where I helped other students on Fortran, Pascal, COBOL, RPG and Assembler. I came to work at IBM 7 years after graduation and have followed the evolution of mainframe technology ever since. When Linux became available on what’s now IBM Z in the 1990s, it seemed like a natural evolution from z/OS and z/OS UNIX System Services. The concept of open source made so much sense. The ability to have a community contribute to and support not only Linux but thousands of other projects or applications was definitely going to change the game.

I’ve always loved to explore new technologies and understand how they work, and IBM has offered countless learning opportunities. In the last 3 years, I’ve earned 29 digital badges covering everything from Linux on Z to hybrid cloud to mentoring. Constantly learning has helped to keep me on the cutting edge of this technology and given me the chance to share that knowledge with others.

I understand that you develop skills training for other IBM Z and LinuxONE professionals. What are some of the topics learners are interested in today?

There’s such a wide range of potential topics with many different layers, and what’s relevant to each professional really depends on their journey. There are the aspects of Linux itself. The basics of Linux installation, security, patch management, performance, managing Linux to avoid outages and so on. There are the hypervisors and related management software. Topics like KVM, OpenStack, z/VM and IBM Wave. In addition to those, subjects related to Linux containers: Red Hat OpenShift, Secure Service Container and Hyper Protect Virtual Servers, LXD, Juju, Docker and Podman.

Would you share a few examples of ways you’ve seen IBM Z and LinuxONE transform how businesses do their work?

For many businesses, moving to IBM Z and LinuxONE means increased scalability, availability and performance. For those dealing with problems of server sprawl, data centers running out of power, security, or recoverability, it can be a significant transformation. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with major banks, insurance companies and universities on groundbreaking LinuxONE deployments, helping them experience the benefits of open solutions in their data centers. I’ve also helped clients use IBM Z to solve their IT infrastructure resiliency challenges and speed disaster recovery.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work with clients?

I love working with new clients who’ve never worked on IBM Z or LinuxONE before — ones that might identify themselves as, say, SQL Server admins — and helping them be successful in managing their new environment. Though they have no Z experience, I can help them set up their environment well so they can use DPM, KVM and Linux like they’ve been doing it for decades. And I really enjoy working on both z/VM and Linux projects.

When you think about how the world is now changing, where do you see IBM Z and LinuxONE playing a role in shaping the future of business?

There are so many ways both IBM Z and LinuxONE bring higher ROI to a business. For many years, it’s been viewed as a server consolidation platform and a data-serving platform. These are good on their own, but I believe the security features of the platform will continue to grow in importance to clients. We have KVM-based Secure Execution, Secure Service Containers and Hyper Protect Virtual Servers, and Pervasive Encryption — all offering ways to better secure your workloads and data, in a simplified manner. Industry and government regulation will continue to mandate better and better security and data protections for the consumer. IBM’s innovative platforms are designed to allow businesses to better secure their data.

Check out Richard’s latest IBM Z Redbook, and watch for him at future IBM Systems TechU and SHARE events. This piece is part of the “Behind the scenes with tech trailblazers” series, where we interview leading IT specialists and architects, distinguished engineers, and experts in AI, hybrid cloud, security and more, providing a glimpse into how they’re helping business around the world succeed with IBM IT infrastructure. A “tech trailblazer” is a demonstrated leader who brings innovation, collaboration and creative thinking to their work, who has an endless thirst for knowledge and is a role model to peers. Stay tuned for more.