My work is in the news!

My behind-the-scenes work at UPS made it to a technology magazine near the end of December: Tracking Digital Identities: No Holiday for UPS. I was the IBMer sent up to UPS in 2003 to resolve some major performance issues in their environment before they went live. We were able to solve their problems (obviously) and I received a Tivoli Manager’s award Q4 2003 for my contribution to the success of the project.

One of the things I find frustrating about working on corporate-infrastructure software is that very few people have any idea what I do first-hand. Most computer-savvy folks won’t have even heard of the software I work on since it isn’t a desktop application like MS Office. It is complicated more by the fact that my role is performance, not development — I don’t make the product go, I make it go faster (maybe I need to make that my tagline on my work email). It was nice to see an article highlighting IBM Tivoli Identity Manager (ITIM for short) being used at a customer that I’ve directly helped.

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cpeel

I'm a gay geek techie space nerd living in Seattle, WA.

6 thoughts on “My work is in the news!”

  1. Casey, I work for IBM, I’ve been told what Tivoli stuff does, and I still don’t actually know what it does. :-) You clearly have no hope of getting pretty much anyone to know what you do. :-)

    I suspect I don’t know/remember what TIM does partly because I’m stupid, but mostly because I don’t understand software unless it’s presented to me in the form of “this is the problem it solves, and this is how it solves it”. Otherwise it just has no meaning to me.

    Somehow I don’t think most other people think like that. I’ve found that my thinking on algorithm/data structure design is greatly simplified when the first thing I do is really get down to the problem I need to solve. Once the problem is well understood the solution is usually jumping out at me.

    This also explains why there’s so many things in the world that I have no interest in owning: they don’t solve any of my problems, so why the heck would I want to spend money on it?

    Cheers,
    Matt

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    1. I understand completely. The biggest use of ITIM these days is more a cover-your-ass legal problem than a technical one: Sarbanes-Oxley (aka SOX) complaince. The gist is that large corporations, particularly financial institutions, have to prove to the gov’t who has (or had) access to a specific resource at any point in time. Without a way to automate the creation and removal of accounts from resources, while logging everything, that is very difficult. In a nutshell, that’s what ITIM does: create and remove user accounts from resources like Windows Domains, AIX boxes, etc based on a predefined policy.

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  2. Congratulations! It’s always good to be able to get a public article that you can take and show everybody and say “I did this!” Of course, it’s “IBMer” in the article. But, still… it’s nice!

    I sympathize with you completely in regards to trying to explain your job. In my last job, it was a bit confusing trying to tell anyone what I did. In the end, I was able to simplify by saying that I did “Technical sales” or “Pre-sales Technical Support”. Yes, I made things go, I made things go faster, I made things do things they weren’t supposed to do but the customers wanted them to do that thing. Though now, in my new position, it was made a lot simplier for me. I can just say “Technical support”. :)

    I never really did have to deal with TIM except with a handful of customers, and even then it was installation and basic configuration work. Most of the time, I spent working with customers on TSM, TDS, ITM, TCM, TIO, and DB2.

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    1. Not just ‘Technical Support’

      I’m not certain that ‘Technical Support’, while technically accurate, is a good descriptor of what you do. I mean, you are supporting a highly complex product used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions. Maybe World-Saving Technical Deity would be more appropriate?

      And if you’ve worked with TDS and DB2 you’ve worked with more than half of ITIM already (granted, those are the easy parts ;)

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  3. Fantastic! I too can sympathize with the inability to describe my job. It would be a drastic oversimplification to call my job “training” or “technical support” or “technical writer.” First, I do all of those things. Second, those are not what I do most of the time. I have tried to explain what I do to my parents three times now, and they still do not really understand.

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  4. Wow, that’s cool, that your work received recognition.

    After spending winter break trying to explain to parents what I do, I sympathize even more with the your frustration with others’ difficulty understanding your work!

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