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2015 IBM Fellows

Mickey Iqbal

Mickey Iqbal

IBM Global Technology Services
Technical Solution Design Operations Architect

“You don’t get a second chance with a client.”

Those are words newly named IBM Fellow Mickey Iqbal lives by in his role as IBM’s Global Technology Services’ Architecture and Technical Solution Design lead and Master Inventor. He has averaged more than 150,000 air miles all over the world each of the last two years to literally develop IBM clients’ future IT systems architecture, side by side.

“Whether from business and technical workshops, or taking a look at what’s under a raised floor in a datacenter, we will work with the client’s technical experts as an extended team member. We’ll determine their requirements, lay out a blueprint for their future IT ‘state,’ and ultimately make them feel 100 percent vested in the final solution,” Mickey said.

That new state is hybrid cloud IT management. Today’s companies have cloud, social, mobile, big data, security technology – and the analytics needs for each – plus legacy systems all made up of multiple vendors. And they just expect everything will work together for results. For example, banks want better, more secure services for their customers, the highest level of agility to respond to new business models and client trends, and have the resiliency to be always-on; not to mention having simplified ways to meet government compliance requirements. Mickey takes this all into account to design an innovative “future-state” IT architecture and technical solution, not a stand-alone product.

More than 1,000 IBM clients use Mickey’s award-winning innovative architecture and design for IT Optimization solutions.

“During a recent client engagement, we showed the CIO (of a large financial institution) an analysis of how a sub-set of his company’s workloads could be migrated to a hybrid IT environment. We performed the analysis with almost no input from the CIO's team, just using our industry experience to come up with a detailed point of view on what workloads could be moved to the hybrid environment, and how quickly we could do it.

“The CIO was pleased with how we took initiative and told his team how thrilled he was to see how proactive we had been in developing and presenting a point of view for his future state hybrid IT – which was in line with his vision,” Mickey said.

Mickey credits his own proactive approach to investing significant time with any business and technical leader, from any industry, who will work with him. The diversity, including geography – he spent most of 2013 in Munich, Germany working with a multi-national Insurance industry client – imprints new perspective on problem solving. “I gain a wealth of knowledge from doing this, and I translate what I learn into objective discussions with clients,” Mickey said.

In the future, Mickey sees future hybrid systems able to codify a higher level of expertise and exploit big data analytics automatically, and perhaps even proactively. So, in instances like his visit to the CIO mentioned above, he could automate several systems tasks to deliver a blueprint faster and with more detail.

Mickey Iqbal in his own words...

How do you stay on top the latest IT research and information?

I meet regularly with IBM Research. We discuss the various client engagements I am working on and what I might be working on in the future. The Research team also informs me about their recent and planned developments. I provide my feedback on these developments, and we discuss how I could take these assets and include them in my future work with clients. This way, we are already working as a tightly knit unit, and are ready when we formally get asked to work on a live client engagement.

We – IBM Global Technology Services – also need reusable assets for our engineers to use when developing a solution. So, I’ve done everything from help set up asset repositories to write the assets: articles, technical documents, and even a book. Doing this keeps me in tune with industry and what our teams are working on.

Who is your mentor?

A key mentor who helped me get to where I am today is Carl D. Meadows. He’s a computer scientist, lawyer, and business administrator who I worked with at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Carl encouraged me to wear many hats and work on the latest advancements in all areas of technology.

He fueled my passion for technology simply by making me aware of educational resources that I could use to enhance my skills. He also encouraged me to become an expert in multiple fields concurrently. And so I’ve been a database administrator, a network administrator, application developer, software engineer, business systems analyst, end user computing services consultant, IT architect and teaching assistant for undergraduate and graduate courses – all at the same time! I still carry Carl's advice close to my heart, and am always looking to expand my technical expertise.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

During my orientation week at IBM in 1999, one of the IBM executive speakers who welcomed us gave me an excellent piece of advice which I still cherish. He told me to never approach a manager or a client with a problem without also providing them with your recommendations on potential solutions. This will show that you thought through the problem and have a vision for how to solve it.

What does it mean to you to be named an IBM Fellow?

It is a humbling experience. I look forward to, in the ever-accelerating pace of progress, continuing to design large scale IT management solutions for our clients and the industry.

Where do your best ideas come from?

I am a night owl and some of my most creative ideas come to me when I work late at night without any interruptions. And it sometimes happens during the day once I’ve turned off Sametime (IBM’s internal chat app)!

What do you enjoy away from work?

I really enjoy playing golf. Someday, I'd love to play at Pebble Beach, St Andrews, and Augusta National! For now, Tour 18 Dallas (which replicated the PGA tour course’s most-famous holes) and The Tribute (a course that replicated European course’s most-popular holes), and also near my home in Dallas, will have to do.

What was the last book you read?

I just finished Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku.


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