Tag Archives: social

My IBM Apprenticeship Opinion – John Longworth

Thinking back to when I began my time here on the IBM Apprenticeship, I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and things happen. So I thought, now would be a great time to go back and give you all a small insight into all the good things that go on in an IBM Apprentice’s time.

So probably the best place to start is with the people. You meet so many of them sometimes it’s hard to keep up, but that’s one of the best things. There are so many other Apprentices you meet, with such a variety of experiences, expertise and sense of welcoming, it’s never seemingly difficult to get yourself unstuck with any issue or queries you have. It’s not difficult to find yourself a group of people either, wherever you end up, who make your whole work life feel like you’re involved in some sort of community. There are so many Apprentices scattered around the country, you’ll bump into them more often than you think!

The next thing surely has to be the experiences and activities you get to participate in. Just recently, for example, I was part of a IBM @ Wimbledon event for a select few Foundation members in which there where prizes up for grabs, plus the chance to go ahead and implement your own idea with the actual IBM Wimbledon team! (Unfortunately, my team didn’t win. Can’t win everything I guess!!). But that’s just an example of the types of events you could expect to take part in and have a chance to put yourself forward for, definitely something I would suggest doing and I’m going to continue to look for myself in the future! If anything, it’s an opportunity to meet and work with people that you wouldn’t usually on a day-to-day basis and you might even pick some new skills or tips along the way.

The number of work opportunities/roles and chances to pick up some expertise, in a technology area you couldn’t ever imagine yourself being a part of, is something that should, for sure, get a mention in this post. It’s actually, in it’s own way, something you have to take into your stride. Having that many opportunities available to you, in areas you don’t even know, but having the chance to learn, can become quite overwhelming at times. But from what I’ve seen and from my own experience, you’ve just got to go for it, put your best foot forward and just jump into the unknown, you often end up enjoying what you’ve done, picked up a new skill and become more prepared for the next role or opportunity that comes your way!

So, that’s just a brief few of the amazing encounters I’ve come across during my time as an IBM Apprentice. I didn’t really think all or many of these opportunities or encounters would actually happen, but they have, and I feel like I’ve tried to make the most of them whenever I can!

John Longworth

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Is Networking All It’s Cracked Up To Be? – Gus Parkhouse.

In my first few days at IBM it seemed that one in every five words was “Networking”, now I’m a year in I can see why this was emphasised so much. I know working for a tech company you’re probably thinking why is computer networking so important to IBM and why does everyone keep talking about it? Although computer networking is important as connects components and nodes this blog is all about social and workplace networking. I’ve started to really see the benefits from good networking and constantly growing my network, these benefits are;

  • Opportunities
  • Connections – knowing people in different places
  • Advice
  • Positive Influence
  • Confidence
  • Friendship
  • Feedback

Through speaking to my line manager I have found many opportunities such as moving from an account in London to one closer to my home in Manchester, allowing me to spend more time with friends and also allowing me to be more sociable outside of work without having to stay in rented accommodation. Without knowing who to approach this would have been a lot more of a strenuous and time consuming task. It also helped me to know who to approach with certain aspects of work, for example Cognitive computing, as I found that just knowing one person in this area was positive as it helped to open up doors to other members of that team and eventually help progress an extremely tricky task.

Since starting as an apprentice in IBM and building a great network of apprentice architects in one base location, I have now moved to the other side of the country and don’t have the pleasure of seeing apprenticeship colleagues on a daily basis anymore. But this hasn’t stopped me from networking with them, it just changed the ways in which I do it. Face to face turned into instant messaging, phone call, text messages and e-mails. I still ask this network the questions that I feel would defy the quote “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” and they’re happy to help. I went from working in an office with distinguished engineers to working from home for 3 weeks, during this time I had to call upon my network for the majority of information needed. I found working remotely from home a very big challenge as I was getting minimal human interaction which is the opposite of what I had the week before. I also created some new connections in this period with the Chief Architect of the new account I was heading on too. My new network connections into the architects team came in incredibly handy when on-boarding and learning what was vital to learn and what could wait.

When I had settled in my new account, I was advised that a new Deputy Chief Architect was joining the account. When he arrived on the account I took the time to sit down and have a chat with him that eventually turned in to going to grab some lunch to get know more about what he had previously done and what he was expecting of me, but also a less work related chat about what he was interested in that turned into him becoming a mentor for me and helping me with architecture and learning.

On the new account I have been able to expand my network further in a very short amount of time as I now work with such a vast team, this networking has helped me to expand my knowledge and get involved in a lot more tasks. This ever expanding networking has been great for helping my confidence in meetings with both the client and senior members of the team as they are there to reinforce the information I’m putting forward. Not forgetting to mention the social benefits of being involved in a mixed team, and all of the networking I have taken part in has helped me to develop my LinkedIn profile and help create a strong virtual network.

At the beginning, I won’t lie, I was very skeptical about the hype around “Networking” but now after just a year I can see that this is and will always be a massively important tool throughout my career. I would now say I agree with the old proverb “It’s not what you know but who you know” and can see where it possibly came from.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, feel free to message me on LinkedIn for any questions. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gus-parkhouse-288855101)

Gus Parkhouse.

CAMSS? Just another acronym?

CAMSS. It’s another acronym. Does it look familiar to you? Doing a Google search for ‘CAMSS’ will mostly yield results related to IBM as this is our ‘keyword’ for the future direction the company is taking. Yet, IBM are not the only company diverging and investing in the CAMSS space. Many other global technology corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon, Accenture and HP are also heading in a similar direction. However not many people understand just what these initiatives are.

I currently work on account which is the other side of the country to my home town, and any trips back require a number of hours on public transport. I thought one day, whilst I was bored and had just finished an IBM quiz on Cloud, to maybe do an experiment and see who else on the commute would know about cloud, analytics, mobile, social or security. While I think there may be a select few who would understand, the majority of people will probably look at me funny and some would probably tell me to go away. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually go around asking people that, it was the end of a long week of work and I just went to sleep!

If you’re not that sure about CAMSS (Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social and Security) then be glad you have our blog. I will cover briefly what each initiative is, and how it ties in to the work we do to improve the way our clients and people in general work.

Cloud

When we talk about cloud, we don’t talk about things being put on to actual clouds, but keep the metaphor in mind as it is probably the easiest way to explain Cloud to someone who is not necessarily in the know. When a company is looking to upgrade their existing infrastructure, maybe to support a new project or keep up with business demand or growth, a company will probably start costing how much it would be to buy all the networking gear and hire professionals who are able to install the new network. Many companies will probably outsource this work to a reputable company. While this means that company will have their own infrastructure, it is often very costly and, to keep their systems secure and running smoothly, they will likely have to upgrade in the next five (or less) years. So how does a company keep up with demand and technology without having to fork out money every number of years? Turn to the Cloud. Companies like IBM offer Cloud solutions using the latest hardware which can dynamically assign resources depending on the demand from a client. So in the example of an online retailer, Summer can be quiet and the Cloud infrastructure can be scaled down (saving the customer money) and once Christmas hits, more resources can be assigned to cope with the new demand. This is an example of Infrastructure as a Service. You also have Platform as a Service and Software as a Service for hosting singular or a variety of different applications in the Cloud.

Analytics

Data is everywhere. An average person working a 9 to 5 job likely wakes up and checks the latest news or their favourits websites on their phone, eats their favourite cereal or breakfast, washed with certain hygiene products, drives a certain car to work, takes a certain route and when they get to work accesses certain websites or does online shopping buying certain quantities of different products. How much data could you gather from that person based on the above scenario? The same applies to businesses in terms of customer demand, current trends, buying habits, preferred products and financial predictions, for instance when the company is likely to make or lose money. All these data points are useful and Analytics can be utilised to provide a company with useful insights into how their business is operating and can assist in making informed business decisions.

Mobile

In these times, you will struggle to find a person who doesn’t own a mobile phone and smartphone use is ever on the rise. If you were a company looking to improve your web or user experiences for your customers, then it would make sense to go mobile. After all, people are always busy moving around, less people are confined to a desk with one computer for their whole life and much more work is being done on commutes with smartphones or tablets (or other similar devices). A lot of companies and online websites already do a lot of work to make their business experience more mobile. For example, on this Apprentice blog, we’ve done a lot of work this year to make our website more accessible for a range of different users which includes utilising a mobile version of the site and allowing authors to create and edit content on smartphones and tablets (I am writing this article on the bus while on the way to work!). You only need to look at the sheer amount of companies who have a mobile site and initiatives such as Apple Pay to see how seriously companies are taking mobile.

Social

As I type this, Facebook has recently announced that they are celebrating one billion active users online at any one time. Just think on that for a sec, one billion active users with a social media account, that’s 1/7 of the worlds population online at any one time, 1/7 of the worlds population with social media accounts and of those accounts, the average Facebook user has 338 friends (Six Degrees of Seperation Theory anyone?). Companies know the sheer power of social media and are utilising it in many ways such as word of mouth advertising, encouraging users to share experiences of their products, targeted advertising based on a users likes and preferences (again, back to analytics here) as well as Twitter accounts which provide a means of customer service support or providing latest updates (especially useful in terms of transport). Essentially, social media brings customers and companies closer together and the power of communication and human socialising shouldn’t be underestimated.

Security

Increasingly, we are hearing in the news of scandals in terms of data breaches and hacks being performed on major or sensitive websites. (Quite recently, the hacking of Ashley Madison has got quite a few high profile people hot under the collar!). How do these data breaches happen? It’s quite simple: security simply was not good enough. While it’s good to have an amazing infrastructure, servicing customers effectively over social media, a good mobile experiences, it would all amount to nothing if all that customer information was illegally accessed and shared to the wrong person just because of inadequate security. The cost to a company of data breaches is highly significant and has caused companies to go bankrupt from the legal costs associated with compensation for loss of customer data.

I hope this article goes a way to clear up what we mean by ‘the CAMSS agenda’ and clarifies why companies like IBM have chosen to guide business direction toward these initiatives. Once again, I look forward to posting to you again soon. – Craig

 

What on earth is CAMSS? – Avtar Marway

Well, in short… CAMSS stands for ‘Cloud Analytics Mobile Social Security’. These are the five key strategies that IBM have in order to help their clients and be essential to the world. So how have these already helped?

Cloud

Like a normal cloud, which stores water, one of the offerings of IBM’s cloud is to allow storage of their client’s information, data and services. Rather than buying their own data storage, clients can use IBM’s Cloud to store their data and information which means they do not have to worry about it

Analytics

Do you ever think what happens with all the data we collect? The millions of data that is collected through the little things we ignore in life? By using Analytics, we are able to analyse the data we collect in order to make smarter cities and a smarter planet. So an example of this is by using traffic lights. Don’t you just hate it when you’re at a red traffic light at a junction, where there are no cars and no pedestrians waiting to cross? By using the data that is collected by traffic lights, analytics can be used to make these traffic lights smarter and better to the adapting world that we are in.

Mobile

Are you reading this from your mobile? If you are, then that’s one of the big things that mobiles are able to do. Mobile is a huge part of society today and are a big part of our lives. This is due to the growth in technology over the years which has allowed companies such as banks to integrate their services into the mobile industry. IBM helps its clients with Mobile by undertaking activities such as creation, management and testing of their mobile-ready applications. For example, if a bank were to have a new app, IBM could help to create this app, test the app on mobile devices so that when the bank releases the app, there are no problems and customers are satisfied with the application as well as it’s functionality.

Social

How often do you see the Twitter or Facebook symbol on the website of a business? The majority of businesses now link their business with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. in order to increase the social aspect of their business. IBM help to develop offerings and assets around the use of social media. IBM can analyse the data that a business’ social aspect collects. For example, say one of IBM’s clients had a twitter account where customers tweet the company. IBM could use the tweets that have been sent to their client to find out what a lot of their customers are tweeting and then use this information to help their client. For example, if tweets were about low customer satisfaction, then IBM could help the client with this problem. All this is done because the client went social.

Security

Without Security, you would have no money, I would have no money, and there would be mass mayhem all over the world. Security is very important – especially with the growth in technology. This is because if security is breached, all kinds of information can be leaked. Remember when Sony was hacked? And the bank details of many PlayStation users were held by the hackers? Imagine if your bank details were breached, how would you have felt? IBM helps to implement high levels of security to their clients. For example, if a client uses the IBM cloud, the information and data they keep inside the cloud is protected within IBM’s security platforms. IBM have done many demonstrations to display how good our security offering is.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and have understood what CAMSS is. If you require more information about any of these or about anything relating to IBM as well as the apprenticeship scheme, feel free to contact me on Twitter (@AvtarMarway), LinkedIn (Avtar Marway) or email me (AvtarMar@UK.IBM.COM).

See you soon!

CAMSS: Mobile – Joe Barry

Mobile is a multi-billion pound industry and with an even brighter future it is no wonder that IBM are heavily involved. There are over 7.2 billion mobile phones in the world today, which is a big increase from the 6.8 billion that where around last year. 2014 also marked the year when the number of mobile phones surpassed the population of humans!

Mobile is not just limited to phones, it includes any device or service that is wireless and can be kept with you. Our lifestyle depends on us being as mobile as possible which is why companies are catering to the mobile lifestyle. Mobile devices have opened many avenues when it comes to business. Companies around the world are video conferencing, allowing employees to work from home (telecommuting) and have work e-mail on their phone. Technologies that we see in our everyday life would have been mind blowing 15 years ago.

Apps for me have become a way of life. I currently have a OnePlus One as my personal mobile and I love discovering new apps and tailoring them to my needs. IBM has an active interest in apps and even create their own for clients. With more people than ever with mobile phones, businesses are becoming mobile friendly to appeal to this massive audience. An increasing number of people completely rely on their phone for information, directions and purchasing products therefore I can only see IBM’s work in this area becoming increasingly more relevant.

Mobile in the future is when the sci-fi part of my brain gets excited. We have already had glimpses in the form of Apple’s iWatch which has become Apples most successful product launch to date receiving 7 million orders by the release day. Because of this it has also become the product that has shown the world how big the mobile industry is. Google glass, although not as successful, has shown us what is possible by pushing the boundaries of technology. However I am most excited about an idea that could be possible for us to have very soon and that is technology within clothes. Just imagine having a jumper that plays music in the hood and can control the volume and song from your sleeve. How great would it be to have a belt you could also use as a keyboard. Why not add a phone charger to your Jean pocket?

The possibilities are endless and IBM are helping to answer the many questions people like us are asking. Even though I have only been at IBM for 10 months I have already been in contact with a big player in mobile called Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a banking app for the new iWatch which allows customers to check their balance, make a payment and set up standing orders. In a nutshell it is internet banking at an arm’s length away. This is the first app of its kind and will soon be followed up by competitors trying to catch up.

IBM has always worked with members of the mobile industry. This includes the likes of Vodaphone and Apple. In that time IBM have created and managed a large number of software and apps for different mobile devices. IBM now wish to create smarter, more mobile cities in Spain with a partnership with Vodaphone. They are also creating customised apps for iPads that help the elderly in Japan by handling basic care giving duties, which I think is amazing! Both of these projects would really benefit the mobile industry and I am proud to be part of a company that can make such a difference. Being an IBMer gives you a chance to work with unique projects and high profile clients which is something I want to continue doing into my future.

When it comes to mobile, you can never predict the next breakthrough. It seems like nowadays everything is becoming mobile. What do you think with be the next step in mobile? How far can we go with it?

2015: The Final Hurdle – Tom Cope

Hello, It’s me Tom.C. I’ve been on this Earth for 19 years and retrospectively that’s not a long time, but damn where have the last 2 years gone. The IBM apprenticeship is three years in length and this year; 2015 will be my last on the program. In September I’ll be thrown into the business to move on to bigger and greater things. That leaves me with ~15,897,609 seconds… ~15,897,608, ~15,897,607. I should really stop over thinking this and start making the most of it. My resolutions for 2015! Everyone’s got them so I would like to share mine with you.

Firstly I would like to complete some certifications. I am currently a Certified Redhat System Administrator (which was by far one of my favourite courses) and I would like to get my Certified Redhat System Engineer. The course is booked, so now all I’ve got is the exam (wish me luck). Next up is the CompTIA Security+ Qualification. Security+ is an industry recognised certification which covers everything from encryption to network security. It’s all done from this cool website which adapts based on how you answer the questions, which is great because you can skip over the stuff you already know and go for the new interesting parts first. I’m about half way there and then I can go for that exam.

Working in a security role really changes your outlook on IT, I always find myself thinking of new ways to bypass security measures. So much so I found a security hole in one of my scripts! I wrote a simple bash script to exploit this hole and voila it worked! I then rewrote a section of the script to defend against this type of attack. I found the whole experience quite fun. I was talking to the project SME and showing him how I performed the exploit and he said I should think about becoming a PEN tester, who’s job it is to do what I just did. Find security holes on a project and write a report about them, so the business can help patch the issue. He recommended I go on a Ethical Hacker course and if I pass I would get a “Certified Security Testing Associate (CSTA) qualification” which is approved by “CREST”. I was all in for that so I sent of a course request and I was approved today. I’m really looking forward to it.

Next up learning. I would like to try some Windows based technologies this year. It’s all well and good falling in love with the soft glow of a black and green command line but sometimes you’ve got to close Putty and use a GUI. I use IBM’s TDS (now re-named to SDS) which is a type of LDAP server. Think of it like a massive phone book, you can quickly search for someone’s name and get their number. But in my case, quickly search for their username and check their password. Windows has its own version called Active Directory or AD for short. Because everyone use’s Windows as their work station I have done some work integrating AD into Redhat Linux so that you don’t need to keep re-typing your password to access a Linux box. Good fun but I would really like to learn more about AD, it looks really cool.

Another point on my New Year’s Resolutions is Social media. IBM has a real focus on “Growing a Social Presence”, so I want to do the same.  If you’ve ever been interested in connecting with me here how:

  • Twitter – @copethomas : My various 140 char comments about work, life and my desk cactus.
  • LinkedIn : My Jobs within IBM, Qualification and (hopefully more) Certifications
  • My Website tomcope.com : Built from scratch in the Style of a Old Fashion terminal screen

I hope to work on my “Social Presence” writing more blogs etc. You can find my blogs on my Linkedin.

My Final resolution is one a bit closer to me. I am continuously making things at home. Arduino Robots, Minecraft Mods and applications in Java/C++. Most of these get back benched and placed in the dark abyss knows as “The Archive” (a black hole folder on my desktop). Sounds a lot like a Doctor Who episode checking… nope not there but “Temple of Secrets” or “The Ark in Space” are cool names. My point is I never truly finish a project, either I’m to paranoid about “perfection” or I think of some other project and go “oooh lets do that!”. Then the current project gets thrown into the folder and the cycle continues. The only exception to this is my “Conference Call Bingo” game. Which I made in a weekend. I have now published this game and you can find a blog post about it on my Linkedin. I want to do more projects like that and share them. So that’s my final resolution, more projects and more sharing. If I do get another project out I will be sure to post it on LinkedIn, here and my personal website.

So there we have it. My plan for 2015. To think it took 2940 sec to write this. Which leaves me with ~15894667 sec to complete the ABOVE! As I said got to stop thinking (or writing) about it and get on with it. So that was me Tom.C, see you in the next one!