10 years on

Being presented with my “10 year pen” at a departmental meeting on Monday seems like a good excuse for a bit of a retrospective on my career with IBM…

I started on 5 October 1998, straight out of university (a degree in Engineering and Computer Science from Oxford University). This was a month later than the majority of that year’s graduate intake as I had been otherwise engaged with a leisurely crossing from New York up to Quebec and then across to Vancouver by Greyhound (the coach company that is, not the dog). I began work as a tester on Component Broker, IBM’s CORBA offering and a forerunner for much of what was to become WebSphere Application Server. It was only a few months before I’d managed to wheedle my way across in to the development team, initially fixing defects in the transactions component.

I then had my first brush with the world of messaging working on the MQSeries Application Adapter component. Next up was some work on the common Java client which was to be a sign of things to come. As IBM threw its weight behind Java, Component Broker sank beneath the waves (although I still drink for my CB mug) and WebSphere Application Server became the way forwards. I continued to work on the transactions service and related activity session service before starting to look at the integration of WebSphere MQ with Version 3.5 of the Application Server.

This (along with a part-time MSc in Software Engineering back at Oxford) kept me gainfully employed until someone had the bright idea of writing a new Java messaging provider for the Application Server from the ground up. I was originally slated to work on the mediation component of what was to become known as the Service Integration Bus but somehow that never happened. Instead, having successfully persuaded the powers that be that the J2EE Connector Architecture was the way to integrate the new JMS provider with the Application Server, I found myself owning the resource adapter component.

Once Version 6.0 had safely shipped I felt that, rather than making design decisions in the rarefied atmosphere of Hursley, I needed to get out and meet some customers. This saw me transfer across to the IBM Software Services for WebSphere organisation. I consequently had the dubious pleasure of explaining to customers that, yes, I had designed and coded that particular piece of function in the product and, no, I have no idea at the time how I was expecting people to use it!

My four years in Software Services culminated in a six month assignment to Norway about which you can read more elsewhere on this blog. I was getting travel weary though and, with a young family, sought a little more predictability in my schedule. Consequently I found myself back sitting not very far away from where I had sat when I left development but now working on WebSphere ESB. Two out of the three guys I originally shared a house with when I first joined IBM also work on the same product (the third having left IBM)!

When I joined IBM I had no great plans to still be a part of the company ten years later but I’ve enjoyed the variety of work, the Hursley location and, most importantly, the clever folks that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with on a day-to-day basis. Who knows where I’ll be in another ten?!

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