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Behind the scenes tour of IBM Poughkeepsie, birthplace of the Mainframe



From the young age of 14, when I got my first taste of using a Mainframe, working after school in a local Data Centre, the dream of one day actually making the journey to Poughkeepsie in New York state, in the United States of America, has long been one of those things I kept telling myself for decades now “you’ll get there one day”. Well that day finally came!

When I got the call that made that dream come true, I’ll freely admit I literally jumped up and down like a school kid – finally some 35 years after the wish to visit the “home of the Mainframe” that dream was going to come true. Thanks to both Stephanie Freyer, Global Social Content Strategist & Team Lead, and Ryan Bares, IBM Systems Social Programs Lead, and the teams which support them, we quickly developed a plan to pull together all the moving parts to not only make the dream come true, in the form of an exclusive “behind the scenes tour”, but to give you my social network of friends, associates and peers, the opportunity to come along with me and experience my trip by living vicariously through me via social media.

How did this come about you ask, well it all began when the amazing team at IBM invited me to do an exclusive “behind the scenes tour” of the famous IBM Poughkeepsie campus, birthplace of the Mainframe. From the initial call and countless emails and messaging via various social platforms and web conference calls, a date, time, place, and plan was mapped out and then I started counting down the days till I got on a plane to wing my way to the USA to fulfil that life long dream.

I’m sure some of you are asking yourselves “wondering why on earth would I want to visit a place that is famous in part for being the birthplace of the Mainframe computer”, thinking it would be like a tour of a “history of computers”. But if you did think that, you would frankly be dead wrong.

Some six or so decades after the Mainframe first launched onto the centre stage of the world of ground breaking computer design, manufacturing, and world leading software and management ecosystem built around the whole Mainframe space, today so many decades later, Poughkeepsie is still very much the thronging heard and soul and lifeblood of some of the biggest Big Iron on the planet.

Every now and then I’m reminded that Australia is a long way away from anywhere, even local nations in the AsiaPac and Oceania region, and I have to admit that the fun trip from Sydney to Poughkeepsie in the USA reminded me yet again just how far away Australia is from the other side of this little planet.

My epic journey to Poughkeepsie included a 9.5 hour flight from Sydney to Hong Kong, a short 1.5 hour stop over in Hong Kong then a 17.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Newark airport in New York City, followed by a two hour car ride from New York City to the city of Poughkeepsie, some 27 hours of actual flying time, and around 37 hours “door to door” from home to the Residence Inn at Poughkeepsie.

Poughkeepsie is a surprisingly small city, once the state capital of New York, it’s home to some 32,736 locals, and although the number of IBM’ers who work at the IBM Poughkeepsie site is a closely kept secret so I can’t share that with you – I can say that they make up a more than significant percentage of the Poughkeepsie city population. My driver commented that a high proportion of his clients each day were IBM’ers, and local stores I visited and asked “do you get a lot of IBM’ers come through” – most just smiled and laughed and said “oh yes, they are”.

Many things which have influenced my life and working career actually came out of IBM Poughkeepsie, and if I was to try and list them here I’d be here all day, but one example was from 1956, when IBM demonstrated the first practical example of artificial intelligence when a fellow by the name of Arthur L. Samuel of IBM’s Poughkeepsie laboratory programmed an IBM 704 not merely to play checkers, but he created an engine which could in fact “learn” from its own experience. I read about this a couple of decades after the actual event, but it’s long stuck in my mind that here and now in 2018 we are seeing a Cambrian like explosion of life around Artificial Intelligence and often behave like it’s a new idea, when in fact it goes back decades, and in particular as far back as 1956 in the “home of the Mainframe”.

The list of amazing business & technology innovations which have come out of IBM Poughkeepsie and the IBMz and Mainframe world that lives there are simply breathtaking. The number of photos on the walls as you walk around the halls of the IBM Poughkeepsie campus of Inventors, Designers, IBM Fellows, men and women who forged new and exciting inventions, innovations, in almost every single aspect of every phase of our history of computing, and that continues through to now, where today IBM is still designing, manufacturing and shipping Mainframes which perform at levels of speed of compute, networking, storage, and scale with service levels that are simply orders of magnitude beyond the “nines” other platforms are even capable of. I lost count of how many familiar famous names and faces I saw both walking the halls of the Poughkeepsie campus or simply on the walls in the many “walls of fame”.

Over the first few hours of our tour, I actually got to do a “take over” of the IBMz twitter handle and tweet directly from my own smartphone as “@IBMz” and I have to say it was one of the most fun things I’ve done for a long time, it’s quite a heady thing to be tweeting as the official twitter handle of the IBM Mainframe business unit, and I hope to be able to do it again soon some time – perhaps at an event soon 😉

Over the next week or so I’ll be working closely with the team at IBM, lead by the indomitable Stephanie Freyer, Global Social Content Strategist & Team Lead, to publish a whole swag of amazing content we captured on my exclusive “behind the scenes tour”.

If you’re following me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, or Twitter, you’ll no doubt have already had a healthy taste of what’s to come, if you haven’t seen the full feed so far please do take a moment to jump onto Twitter and take a “walk” with me through IBM Poughkeepsie before we start to publish the full videos and photo galleries, you’ll be amazed by what we managed to cover in the short space of a few days.

The week at Poughkeepsie saw me capture some amazing content for you, which we’ll soon be sharing over a series of days, including interviews with the best and brightest of the IBMz and LinuxOne teams, subject matter experts (SME’s) from Security, Blockchain, Chip Design, Manufacturing, an Agile Centre hosted right in the heart of IBM Poughkeepsie, the Test Floor teams where they Make, Bake & Shake mainframes and “burn them in” to test every possible element of the systems before shipping them to customers, to ensure these amazing machines are 100% tested and proven well before they are shipped to customers who expect them to be on time, all the time, every time.

I also got to spend time on camera with so many of the gods of IBM’s Engineering, Design, Security, Infrastructure, Chip and Code builders & testers, Offering Managers and their teams, as well as some new faces to the IBM Poughkeepsie team from Interns and Grans through to the likes of Connor Krukosky “the Mainframe kid” and a couple of his young associates who each work on some of the most intimate inner core elements of the IBM Mainframe systems, from Chip & Circuit design, to Assembler level code and regression testing, to software emulation of “an entire Mainframe” to test chip design before it’s committed to silicone – all three of these “whizz kids” currently count their “time with IBM” in mere months.

So I’m sure you can tell I had an amazing time, and I’m so excited to be able to share the journey with you here on social media in tweets, blogs, posts, live streams and videos.

If there’s anything you would like to know more about, if you’d like to have me setup calls or meetings with any of the folk I got to speak with or do interviews with, or any of their teams, please to drop me a quick note to let me know as I’d be most honoured to connect you with the right people in the right parts of IBM’s Mainframe “IBMz” team, LinuxONE team, or any part of IBM for that matter.

I look forward to your comments with thoughts and feedback, and I hope you enjoy this “behind the scenes tour” living it vicariously through me, as I did actually being there all week in person, finally getting to live out my life long dream of “visiting the birthplace of the Mainframe and getting to know some of the gods of Big Iron, old and new”.

You can learn more about these amazing machines here =>


Rebounding for the data-driven fate with FPGA and eASICS



Field Programmable Gate Array Technology

Data is now the new driving force of the modern world. How well your business performs or what its rank could be on the performance list entirely depends on how you leverage the data available, involving emerging tools such as ML, AI, and cloud! Such forces have, in turn, lit up a stand for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). 

Lately, I have had a great fortune to sit down and have an in-depth discussion with Jim Dworkin, the senior director of the cloud business unit in the Programmable Solutions Group at Intel. During our discussion, even Jim asserted that in order to unlock the potential of data, we need to embrace the latest FPGA technology. 

Further, having the modern architecture out into the right place now could easily uncover the paths to get things right. Perhaps, we need to educate ourselves on the ‘hardwiring’ of data flow to ensure we can appropriately leverage the power of data, speed time to market, diminish the costs of ownership, and a lot more that could take the businesses to new heights. 

For example, the technology Intel has been offering has virtually evolved “off-the-shelf”, so competent than ever before that it can now solve specific infrastructure or business problems.

With the embracement of FPGA latest technology and eASICs(the Intel tech discussed above), there has been an acceleration in infrastructure use cases (SmartNICs). So, what is SmartNICs? Well, SmartNICs is a programmable accelerator. It holds the capability to centre all the networking data with the utmost security and proffering storage flexibility and efficiency at the same time. 

Having SmartNIC onboard businesses hold enough power to handle more refined infrastructure workloads using cloud hosts, churning of wastage of time, and saving more resources. Besides, SmartNICs also furnish great value towards nurturing virtualized assistance, such as multi-tenant shared cloud and more.

Perhaps with hyper-scalers’ mushrooming, the overhead of network infrastructure might turn daunting. But the applications of FPGA have helped manage that. 

Apart from this, Intel has also come up with FPGA cloud SmartNIC platforms that replicate the hyper-scalers’ used architectures. So, how does it operate? 

This platform integrates Intel high-performance Stratix 10 FPGA with an Intel Xeon D processor that works together on the SmartNIC card, enabling virtual switching by offering the Tier-2 data centres a mass-market solution. 

Intel has also been heavily sponsoring more efficient AI via recommender systems and natural language processing. It has even established a more robust form of FPGA, which is able to interpret voice coder inputs. 

Jim contends that the enactment of a GPU manages to be modal and established on the micro-architecture constructed around it, irrespective of their power. Therefore if it shifts from an optimization point, latencies might rise, negatively impacting the performance of speech processing. 

FPGA applications are virtually inexhaustible, particularly with FPGA transition reaching up to par with software programming in ease of usage. 

Jim is optimistic about exploding evolution. He believes people wouldn’t be asking what SmartNIC platforms are. Instead would be keener towards knowing how transformative it could be. But if you ask me, I would still say the real excitement lies in accessing Intel’s technology and then jumping to Microsoft Azure to revise and enjoy leaner and faster service completely.

With his extensive product knowledge of large-scale integration work, Jim puts it; we must decode problems at a strategic level and not in a microcosm.

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Conversation With Jim Dworkin, Senior Director Cloud Business Unit, Intel PSG



I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jim Dworkin, who is the Sr. Director of Cloud Business Unit at Intel PSG, to discuss the recent news, insights, FPGA trends, and offerings surrounding Field Programable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) from Intel and related topics such as Data Centres, Infrastructure from Servers to Networks, to the Internet of Things, Edge networking  Artificial Intelligence, compute and much more.

In this episode of our podcast show, Jim and I delve into a wide range of business and technology insights around how key CXO and Senior Business & Technology decision-makers can obtain immediate real-world business benefits by taking advantage of the tremendous technology and supporting ecosystem or partners, integrators, and others and Intel teams globally – this show covers many recent trends in FPGA is you can not miss, please do tune in it today!

Here are a few of the important points from our show:

  1. Latest macro FGPA Trends driving development/adoption of FPGAs/eASICs

We kick off with Jim sharing insights around what he and his team at Intel are currently seeing worldwide, as far as the latest macro trends driving the development/adoption of FPGAs/eASICs are concerned.

Jim also clarifies what an FPGA is, what Intel’s eASICS are, and where they each fit in the respective spaces around development, design, implementation, going into production, and more – a phenomenal overview to set the scene for this fantastic discussion.

  1. Obstacles & happenings around the adoption of FPGAs/eASICs and market readiness

I ask Jim to share his take on the key hurdles & opportunities he and his team at Intel PSG, and related teams at intel, are seeing worldwide concerning the uptake and adoption of FPGAs/eASICs and market readiness.

  1. How Intel customers/partners see success with FPGAs/eASICs

Jim gives us an extraordinary briefing level summary of how Intel customers and partners see success with FPGAs/eASICs, as well as some great actionable takeaways listeners can put in place within their own organisations to gain real business and technology benefits over a wide range of key areas in both Information Technology as well as Operational Technology systems and environments.

This conversation covers a broad range of news and detail about Intel’s FPGA solutions business, and technology decision-makers should pay attention. PushPLAY now and tune into this great conversation. If you have any questions, reach out at any time via any of the usual channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. We’d love to start a conversation and perhaps connect you with the best people at Intel to support your organisation’s outcomes.

This podcast covering Intel FPGA News was created in association with Intel.


 Intel® FPGA Homepage:

– Real-Time Text To Speech Synthesis Using Intel® Stratix® 10 NX FPGA (Video):

– Real-Time Text To Speech Synthesis Using Intel® Stratix® 10 NX FPGA (White Paper):

– Pushing AI Boundaries with Scalable Compute-Focused FPGAs (White Paper):


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Telecom Security Innovations will allow telcos to offer security



Telecom Security Innovations & Services

It’s an exciting time to be involved in telecommunications. We have witnessed a major push towards remote work this year and telecom companies, both on the provider and supplier side, are scrambling to meet new demands. The growth is being driven by an exponential bump in traffic from both human and IoT footprints. To add to it all, many telcos are gearing up to launch 5G services as well – but, like all things in life, it’s a mixed bag.

The rise in digital activity across the globe has also been accompanied by a nearly unbelievable surge in cyberattacks, much of which is highly sophisticated and increasingly targeted at enterprise rather than individuals.

Many organisations and business leaders had a tough time in 2020 dealing with a relentless spate of virus, ransomware, phishing, and DDoS attacks. For their part, telecom providers have been forced to reconsider the limitations that come with legacy infrastructure, especially when it comes to ensuring the security of mission-critical data.

Also consider the sheer scope of change in business models for carriers and providers, if they could finally move away from their pitched battle around pricing. By offering high-value, premium security solutions that guarantee peace of mind, the telecom industry can create something customers will be willing to pay a higher price for: reliability.

The need to rethink security from an infrastructure perspective

The complexity of security issues has moved beyond ‘gatekeeping’ firewall solutions in the core. Think about it. Legacy security solutions are largely based on sampled traffic. The traditional firewall sits in the core network and is generally too busy dealing with high traffic volumes to do much beyond a basic source-destination check – leaving the network vulnerable to malicious content housed undetected in particular packets of communication.

These solutions are typically slow to detect and mitigate the kind of advanced attacks that are increasingly prevalent in 4G networks and will be “de rigour” in 5G. While enterprise networks can be enmeshed in multiple layers of security, that technique is simply not tenable for telecom networks that have too many connections going in every possible direction to be effectively protected.

The problem gets magnified and compounded for 5G. Picture the huge variety of devices feeding into the networks, ranging from very high-speed mobile broadband to numerous complex and connected IoT devices, vehicles, autonomous drones and more. To put this in perspective, each of these devices is estimated to generate 20-gigabits of traffic per second that all needs to be routed and checked for security. In the case of an attack, the volume of data generated can increase manifold and significantly stress system resilience.

Telco Security Innovations initiative takes security to the next level

Telcos understand this only too well. And it’s not surprising that in recent surveys, the need for advanced security in the manufacturing of application delivery controllers trumped evergreen asks from telecom providers like lower latency, higher capacity, and throughput.

This is why I was so excited to talk with Folke Anger, Head of Solution Line Packet Core, Ericsson Digital Services and Yasir Liaqatullah, Vice President Product Management, A10 Networks to discuss an interesting innovation around the security of 5G Core technologies – the Packet Core – a high-performance cloud-native firewall.

Building security into the DNA of 5G Core infrastructure

With CSPs moving from centralised data centres to edge cloud, the threat landscape has evolved to a point where attacks need to be mitigated as they arise. This means bringing down the scale of response time from minutes or seconds to milliseconds. That’s physically impossible to achieve on legacy infrastructure, so Ericsson thought about the problem differently.

They combined their cloud-native principles with the design of the user plane and built-in its Packet Core Firewall, powered by A10 Networks’ security capabilities, by adding micro-services into the user plane in Packet Core Gateway. The result is a fully integrated security solution that eliminates the need for additional cloud-native functions, separate management or multiple instances.

The Packet Core solution is completely unique in terms of embedding security within the data plane. It’s fully automated and backed by ML in the form of artificial intelligence. It also requires minimal human intervention – all of which result in millisecond level mitigation of even advanced threats.

Opening up a new horizon for telecoms and carriers

The implication of security built into the DNA of the 5G infrastructure is huge for the telecommunication industry.

For one, the resiliency brought in by an integrated security solution ensures that the infrastructure is strong enough to reconfigure and re-spawn itself in case of an attack and continue to function with minimal impact on latency.

It also offers granular security by monitoring all connections with full visibility and can detect threats as they appear and take corrective action – ensuring minimal human intervention and mitigation of attacks in milliseconds. It’s integrated with automation systems and can easily scale to keep pace with higher traffic volumes.

Implementing an integrated security solution will result in lower TCOs for service providers. That, by itself, should be a huge benefit for companies negotiating various partnerships to negotiate the high costs of implementing 5G infrastructure. But it holds out scope for something much more important.

In effect, this innovation can finally offer what telecoms and carriers have been craving for years – a solid differentiator in terms of the value they offer to customers. The pricing battle that telecoms and carriers have been stuck in for years can finally end as they choose to evolve to offer more premium offerings to meet the core demand of many customers on faster networks – complete, reliable security in mission-critical applications.

Eventually, we might see security-as-a-service being bundled as a value add-on to service packages, but given the current threat landscape, security can be the differentiator that sets apart exceptional enterprise service providers from the rest.

I want to thank Folke Anger and Yasir Liaqatullah, and all the wonderful people at Ericsson Digital Services for making this interview possible. Please tune in to the conversation at the link below, and use the other resources to learn more about the technology and innovations we discussed.

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