Every January I am reminded specifically of January 6, 1997. I was 21 years old and fresh out of college with a computer science degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. IBM had hired me and I showed up at the IBM site in Rochester, MN for my first day of work. I still remember exactly what I wore that day! I must have stressed over finding the right mix of professional and casual while still staying within my meager college budget. (BTW...There's no photo from my first day. The one on the right is of me in my office in 1999. It's the oldest work photo I could find.)
As I sit back and think about that day, I have to realize it has been 17 years. 17 years! That's 4 years away from having spent half of my life at IBM. Whoa! Did I think I would still be here 17 years later? Maybe. Have things changed? Certainly. Change is inevitable.
But what have I done with that time?
Unlike some people, I haven't hopped between jobs at IBM. I've worked in two main areas during this time.
1997 - 2000
My early years were spent in a lab doing hands on activities with hard disk drives. I remember having a dream (or was it a nightmare?) about installing Windows 95 from a *huge* stack of floppies. I guess I had done that too often as part of a test setup during the week! I started with performance tests for the 2.5" form factor IDE drive for laptops and eventually moved on to testing SCSI and Fibre Channel hard disk drives. This is where I learned to love the Finisar FC analyzer. I eventually ended up working closely with the developers writing low level protocol test cases to test their implementations. Shortly after I moved out of that team, that business was sold to Hitachi.
As a young employee, I especially remember getting to go on "business trips". I really hadn't traveled much prior to working at IBM. This gave me opportunitis for first visits to a number of states and countries, first rental cars, and more. One of my favorite trips was getting to spend 2 weeks in Japan working with the hard disk drive development team.
And then I moved on to a new challenge.
2001 - present
Although I enjoyed many aspects of what I was doing, I had an idea that I wanted to become a Java programmer and I wanted to work on user interfaces. I joined a new team at IBM that was just about to release the very first version (1.0!) of their storage management product. For those that remember, it was Tivoli Storage Network Manager and involved Tivoli Netview and things like MQ Series. After several product overhauls and framework changes, you get to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center as it is today. Just ask anyone who has been involved ad you'll hear that it has come a *long* way. We recently released Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 5.2 to the field, and the differences are amazing.
I didn't initially land in level 3 support, but I have always been involved in the fabric aspects of the product. I've worked on licensing, acted as a vendor liaison for standards implementations, handled tool implementations, worked on the ibm.com support site content for Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and its predecessors, handled fabric PMRs for our product, provided on site support for customers, led a team of support engineers delivering fixes for all areas of our product, handled security vulnerabilities, coordinated maintenance deliveries and more. In fact, I still do most of that today! I even get the opportunity to look at a Finisar FC trace every now and then and I like it.
Although some things don't seem to change, I've always loved the "you never know what you're going to get" part of support. It changes day to day and always brings a new challenge. I love troubleshooting and digging into problems. Tivoli Productivity Center and our team have grown since the early days and I've grown immensely with it. There's so much more I want to accomplish within level 3 development support and with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Changes to the web GUI with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 5.2 show potential with improved usability and new functionality. I'm also looking out for the best support experience we can provide.
Here's to another year!
Recently, IBM celebrated 100 years and the Rochester site celebrated 50 years. My 17 is just a drop in the bucket. :)