ITIM 5.1 is released!

After ~1.5 years in the making, IBM Tivoli Identity Manager 5.1 was released today! This version adds support for role hierarchy, enforcing separation of duties policies, endpoint group management, and user recertification. Performance-wise we addressed some minor defects and made better out-of-the-box indexes for use on Oracle and MS SQL databases.

My big post-release todo is to finish updating the Performance Tuning Guide and get it released by the end of July. With luck I’ll have it done by mid-month.

IBM raises (or lack thereof) arrive

Despite the economic turndown IBM did in fact give out raises this year, albeit meager ones. Unlike last year where there was an MRP adjustment in addition to a merit-based adjustment, this year it was only merit-based and it only applied to those who received PBC ratings of 2+ and 1. That was disappointing for me given that I received a PBC rating of 2 largely due to my recent promotion. So my salary remains unchanged. Not that I’m at all complaining given that many companies are reducing pay across the board by a percentage.

On the plus side I did find out the new MRP range for Band 9s in my region. I’m currently sitting at a MRP of 46% — or only about half way to the midpoint of the range — so if they opt to do MRP adjustments again next year I have lots of room to grow.

Looking back on it I’ve decided I’ve been on the wrong side of IBM’s MRP program. Every time they’ve decided to do MRP adjustments I’ve made a high PBC rating and qualify for merit-based adjustments but the pool of money to allocate is smaller because of the mandatory MRP allotments. The time they decide not to do an MRP I have a lower rating that doesn’t qualify for merit-based adjustments.

Time off this summer

IBM is offering a voluntary pilot program called TakeTime this summer. The concept is rather simple: with management approval you can take between 10 and 20 days inclusive off in the months of June, July, and August and get paid 1/3 of your pay for the days you take off.

The days need not be taken contiguously and the money is taken out of your September paychecks in equal amounts allowing for folks to plan their cash flow. The days off are separate and distinct from your vacation. During the time you take off you’re still a considered a full-time employee without any change in your insurance coverage, vacation accrual, etc.

IMHO this is a very exciting program because IBM is a stickler about vacation: you can’t roll unused vacation over and you can’t buy back vacation days — what you have based on your tenure is it. For me that means 3 weeks of vacation which have been eaten up by travelling back to Texas for holidays the past two years.

Originally I wanted to take the full 20 days off but that didn’t cash-flow well with travel expenses we’ll have over the next few months and the tuition for Benjamin’s summer classes. Instead I opted for the minimum 10 days. I’ll be taking them every Friday in the months of July and August (8 as July the 3rd is a site holiday and I have off anyway) and 2 floating dates that I can use whenever in July or August.

What will I be doing with my Fridays off? Some of those will be spent visiting friends during some of our travel. Others will be spent doing some coding for PGDP. And yet others may be spent reading a book by the pool :)

Anniversaries: Personal & Professional

Monday, June 1st was my 6th-year anniversary with Benjamin. We met 6 years ago on a blind date set up by a mutual friend to see Miss Saigon. We celebrated it by recreating our second date: we had dinner at Schlotzsky’s and then proceeded to see the movie Up which was amazing. Well, technically our second date was dinner at Schlotzsky’s and then dancing lessons at RCC so it wasn’t a total recreation — but neither were we 6 years younger either :) Benjamin did seem to enjoy his dozen + 5 roses.

Tuesday, June 2nd was our 3-year marriage anniversary. To celebrate that we’re seeing Rent next week and staying in a hotel downtown.

Today, June 5th, is my 9-year anniversary at IBM. When I was hired at the peak of the dot-com boom I never thought I’d be at IBM for 5 years, much less 9. During my second performance evaluation roughly 18 months after I started I was told that I was getting a raise, not just because of my good performance but because if they didn’t new hires would be making more than I did. It was then that I discovered that the hiring managers didn’t consider me a strong candidate and weren’t going to offer me the job until one manager stepped in and said he thought I’d be a good fit and would vouch for me. I never did end up working for him though. Thus I was hired at the lowest salary they could offer a college graduate (which was sadly the highest offer I received by far during my job search). Since then I’ve proceeded to impress folks — at least according to my performance evaluations. Here I am 9 years later a well-respected Senior Software Engineer (band 9) and a performance subject-matter expert on all things ITIM, including the IBM LDAP server and DB2 database. It’s been a fun ride! I’m looking forward to an extra week of vacation next year and seeing where IBM’s headed from here.

Layoff ripple effects

I found out today that one of my virtual-team peers, Ray, was impacted by the layoffs last month. Luckily he has three internal job opportunities and three external job opportunities so the odds of him finding another job look promising. I’m very sad to see him go and wish him all the best. I’m under the impression that this Friday is his last day in his current position. It no doubt sucks for him.

It also sucks for me. Up until now Ray handled the performance and sizing for one set of Tivoli Security products, I handled the performance and sizing for ITIM, and all the other acquisitions and miscellaneous products got dumped on Dave. All three of us interact with development, test, support, and work with customer crit-sits. With Ray gone, not only do we loose all of his expertise but Dave and I gain responsibility for his workload. His very extensive workload.

The next few months could be very, very painful.

Layoffs, customers, and new focus

As you’ve probably heard, IBM has recently done some layoffs. My grandmother has seen something on the news about it and called my mom at 8am on Monday morning to ask if I was impacted. [Unrelated aside: I was going to use the word affected here, but since I don’t know if it is effected or affected and most folks won’t grok [a|e]ffected I opted for impacted instead :) ] My mom assured her that “Casey is indispensable”. What I think is funny is that my mom turns around and calls me yesterday evening to validate that assessment. Guess she didn’t trust her judgment of my indispensableness! Just in case anyone else is reading this and concerned: thus far my project and my position have been spared.

The past two weeks I have been doing performance testing of the ITIM SAP adapter for a Large UK Bank (what’s with me and large banks?). Today I presented the findings to the bank. They were both glad to hear how well the adapter performs in our test environment and yet not so happy given how amazingly poorly it is working in their environment. I left them with a todo list on some steps to diagnose it. From here I’m leaving the customer in the very capable hands of ITIM Support.

At my management team’s request/orders I’m shifting my focus from customer issues to testing the performance of ITIM 5.1 which is still under development. I’m somewhat glad about this as it gives me an easy out for not getting involved in new customer issues and hopefully being able to decrease my involvement with existing customer issues. I’ve felt worn a little thin lately given the many customer issues I’ve been involved in the past several months. Granted, I haven’t yet determined how I’m going to transition out of some of the existing issues or who to hand them off to, something high on my todo list. Tomorrow I have a total of 9 calls with at least one every hour, sometimes two per hour. 5 of them are directly related to my new ITIM 5.1 work so I’m most certainly hitting the ground running. The ITIM 5.1 performance work is high enough profile to not only merit pulling me off customer issues but to also get me some help! My manager let me know yesterday that the Powers That Be decided to pull someone (Eme) off an already under-staffed sister project to help me with the ITIM 5.1 performance work. I’ve worked with Eme before and am thrilled to be working with him again as he is very intelligent, self-motivated, self-directing, and even interested in performance work!

2008 PBC Rating: 2

I was unable to continue my “PBC rating of 1” streak 3 years in a row, but really – that’s OK with me because this year I was compared to all the band 9s thanks to my recent promotion so the competition was a bit harder.

[From my post last year:] For the uninitiated: At the beginning of each year, IBM employees write down their goals for the year and put them in the PBC tool. At the end of the year employees write up how close they came to achieve those goals and submit them to management who reviews them. Also at the end of the year management gets together and rates employees according to how well they did compared to their peers. Ratings can be one of the following

  • 1 – Extraordinary
  • 2+ – Exceeded Expectations
  • 2 – Solid Performer/Met Expectations
  • 3 – Needs Improvement
  • 4 – Your Ass Is Getting Fired

Because PBC ratings are tied to bonus payouts, the number of 1s and 2+s are limited – generally at a 3rd line manager level.

This year I thought I’d include an excerpt from my manager’s writeup (partially redacted):

Casey remains a focal point in the Tivoli Security organization for all matters relating to performance and scale testing and associated environmental “tuning” considerations involving operating systems (platforms) and middleware. Casey is continually requested, by name, to assist with and support external customers. For many of these customers, Casey has assisted L2/L3 with crit-sit and PMR/APAR activity. In a number of instances he has also traveled to provide on-site assistance. Casey ended the year on an strong note in this very fashion, by providing technical support and assistance in a sale to [Large US Bank]. Here is a quote from a Security Sales Leader for the East, ‘ I can not thank you enough for the contribution Casey Peel brought to last week’s performance tests with [Large US Bank]. Not only Casey exceeded [Head Bank Guy’s] expectations but he also delivered the message in a trustworthy and warm way. We are facing [competitors] still, but last week we showed what Team IBM can do for Identity and Access management and Casey was an instrumental part of that.’ This was followed with a comment from a Specialty Software Sales Representative, ‘…..Thank you. If we win this deal, it will be in no small part attributed to Casey’s efforts.’ These particular comments were sent to our VP of Storage & Security Development as well in December. I have become accustomed to being on the receiving end of comments like these regarding Casey’s contributions on an ongoing basis.

Overall I’m content with my rating — not thrilled but certainly content. A 2 puts me pretty much out of the running for any bonus or merit-based salary increase although I might get a corrective salary adjustment based on my new market reference point as a band 9. Still, given the economy and layoffs I’m just glad to be employed at a job I enjoy.

IBM: 2008Q4 results are good! Layoffs around the corner?

IBM released really good 2008 Q4 results today which was, to me at least, very surprising given the economy. Par usual, Sam sent out an email to all IBM employees thanking them for their work and giving a synopsis of the results released to the public (obviously after they were released to the public). Of particular interest to me was the information that the bonus and salary plans are still funded — something I was not expecting given the current economic conditions.

On the flip side, there are still rumors that IBM will be issuing layoffs. We’ve (obviously) not been told anything internally although someone I trust has a feeling that if something were to go down, that it would go down this Friday. I’m not overly concerned about my position but you never know for sure until the dust settles.

2009/01/21 Update: IBM didn’t wait until Friday. Some number of layoffs are happening within my organization starting today. We weren’t informed how many or who was affected although I was told that I was not impacted.