Highlights from 8 years at IBM:
  • 35 articles demonstrating new technologies
  • 13 patents from RFID to cloud management
  • 14 IBM Thanks peer recognition awards
  • IBM Thinkplace Innovator Award
  • 38 IBM Bravo/Ovation awards
  • IBM Bravo award for technical achievement
  • 19 Invention achievement awards, 5 patent plateau awards
  • Selection to the Early Career Conference
My first opportunity with IBM came as a Co-Op through R.I.T with the Personal Computing Division Executive Briefing Center in Research Triangle Park. This was a fantastic opportunity where I helped administer PC's and Laptops representing all of IBM's consumer grade hardware. In addition to technical support, I had the opportunity to demonstrate the Wearable PC to customers. (Photo credit: BBC), more coverage at the BBC and IBM Research. This was a great working experience with David Laubscher, Jeff Walls, Doug Baldwin and many others.
After the co-op and graduation from R.I.T. I began work with IBM as a full time 'regular' employee with Global Services. I worked closely with Andrew Levandoski doing Java programming. Among other projects, I worked on adding multi-threaded support to a data processing application. As part of the Customer Database team, I helped manage the batch processing data identification, matching and cleansing systems. This role focused on managing the Trillium software system on AIX
Managing tens of gigabytes of customer data in a flat file format with the existing tools was inadequate, so I created the 'Flat File Tool', which is useful for managing and visualizing large plain text files with no line delimiters. You can read more about the fftool program at [SourceForge](http://fftool.sourceforge.net/)
After a few months at IBM, I began work on an instant messaging client using the Sametime SDK. I wanted many of the features available in other clients, but IBM's internal feature release schedule was not as fast as expected. I used my experiences with Windows Application development in college and at TM Technology to create Sametime Plus. As of March 2009, it still has features not available in the internal IBM Sametime client.
There was a distinct need for a hardware and software environment local to our administrators instead of in [Ehningen, Germany](https://www.google.com/maps/place/IBM+Ehningen/@48.6502964,8.9364503,2062m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m8!1m2!2m1!1sibm+ehningen+data+center!3m4!1s0x0000000000000000:0x3b35d9ef4bbf614c!8m2!3d48.6519571!4d8.9467496). I created some specifications and acquired IBM-surplus AIX "medium-big iron" for faster processing of data. This project involved the setup of [7017-S80](http://www.coworthtechnologies.com/products/ibm/system-p/rs-6000/ibm-rs-6000-s80)'s and terabytes of storage in a raised floor data center environment.
Setting up systems, applications and database connections with the data quality analysis team gave me unique exposure to IBM's internal customer data. Beyond the challenges of duplication, entity relationship modelling and analysis methods, there were significant data quality issues. I worked with Enya Garcia and Alex Jankowsky to address many of these data quality issues. We created business rules, worked with the data custodians for each geography, and created actionable reports and a web application. IBM'ers worldwide could fix their own mis-entering of data, from typographical errors to business rule violations and placeholder entries. Moreover, violations could be tracked from an individual to mid management and corporate head level, leading to much greater visibility of data quality issues.
Visualizing terabytes of data can be a significant challenge. To address some of these issues I used surplus systems to create a minimalist 'display wall' of 9 monitors. This led to the beginnings of many IBM [developerWorks articles](http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/opensource/library?sort_by=&show_abstract=true&show_all=&search_flag=&contentarea_by=All+Zones&search_by=nathan+harrington&topic_by=-1&industry_by=-1&type_by=All+Types&ibm-search=Search).
Various steps in the [Trillium](https://www.trilliumsoftware.com/) Batch process respond well to simple parallelization, as their is no shared data between the records. I used surplus systems gathered from the data center environment and custom Perl scripts to automatically divide the processed data amongst servers. Each server would run the parser process on its data, and send the information back to the central processing server. This simple approach reduced the processing time linearly - the more servers you add the faster the overall process.
An organization as large as IBM exposes the employee to a wide variety of bureaucratic and logistic issues. I worked on various projects in the data center to address these needs. Mapping the locations of people within buildings and creating automatic reporting structure graphs were created for the broader IBM community.
In addition to world class consumer grade hardware and software, IBM has access to some of the worlds most interesting device prototypes. I contacted IBM Research and asked for access to the WatchPad prototype. [M. T. Raghunath](https://in.linkedin.com/in/m-t-raghunath-a98600) and [Chandrasekhar Narayanaswami](http://researcher.watson.ibm.com/researcher/view.php?person=us-chandras) were a fantastic help getting me up and running with the IBM WatchPad environment. Working with this hardware was a unique learning experience, which you can read more about on the WatchPad page. I also had experience with the IBM [Tetra](http://archive.linuxgizmos.com/device-profile-cdl-paron-secure-pda/) smart phone, which included a fingerprint reader and lightweight Linux environment.
After working on the IBM WatchPad, Chandra approached me to consider helping out with the IBM SoulPad. This was another great opportunity to work on a Linux software stack that represented the leading edge of virtualization. you can read more about my experiences with this project on the SoulPad page.
Exposure with management through the success of these and other projects led to my involvement with a wide variety of groups within IBM. Among these were the EBI Innovation Team, Autonomic Technology Cohorts, NC Green Team, and the IGS Invention Development team.
Addressing a sales idea from Derrick Brown led to the Resource Locator project, and the many successes and awards it produced for the Resource Locator team.
Expanding on the procedural and technical success of the Resource Locator project was the goal of the BlueBerry enterprise data search application. Click the link above for further details including what a 120+ laptop processing cluster looks like.
During this time I also worked as a System Administrator for the Central Customer Master System project. In this role I configured and administered dozens of systems in diverse geographical locations for a multi-national team supporting test and development efforts across multiple platforms. I also did a little J2EE development to support features in various releases for the project.
Over the past three years, I have written 38 IBM developerWorks articles, completed patent applications for innovations in 19 different areas, and participated in multiple podcast interviews with Scott Laningham. You can read more about these projects and their associated Awards and Recognition from IBM.
The successes within IBM described above and on other pages led me to begin the "Innovation that Matters - for your career and your bank account" talk to various organizations within IBM. This presentation was unique in that it would be more than someone just reading slides to you. I'd go through the pages of the Presentation, and tailor the spoken component to the audience. Using some of the tools described on these pages, I would give specific examples of innovation for the organization and individuals of that organization based on the corporate goals and personal skill sets of the listeners.
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