Think! Welcome to Big Blue Week here at The Long View—where we peruse the news of the week and strip it to the essentials. Let’s work out what really matters.
This week: IBM’s employment practices scrutinized, IBM z/OSaaS breaks cover, and IBM encourages staff back to the office.
1. ‘Dinobabies’ and ‘Dated Maternal’ Workforce Woes
First up this week: IBM’s defense in an employment age discrimination lawsuit looks to be shredded. Internal emails “appear to show high-level discussion about paring the ranks of older employees.”
Analysis: Not a good look
According to one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, unnamed “top IBM executives were explicitly plotting with one another to oust older workers … to make room for millennial employees.” On the face of it, they seemed to be doing the polar opposite of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Noam Scheiber: Making ‘Dinobabies’ Extinct: IBM’s Push for a Younger Work Force
Top IBM executives were directly involved in discussions about the need to reduce the portion of older employees … sometimes disparaging them with terms of art like “dinobabies.” … Documents made public by a Federal District Court … show executives discussing plans to phase out older employees.
The newly unsealed documents, which quote from internal company emails … show top IBM executives specifically emphasizing the need to thin the ranks of older workers and hire more younger ones. [One] email refers to IBM’s “dated maternal workforce,” an apparent allusion to older women, and says: “This is what must change. They really don’t understand social or engagement.”
Adam Pratt, an IBM spokesman, [claimed,] “IBM is never engaged in systemic age discrimination.” [He] said that some of the language in the emails “is not consistent with the respect IBM has for its employees” and “does not reflect company practices or policies.”
Yikes, ageism and sexism? Experienced staff are valuable, says MrBanana:
I did some time at IBM [and] remember being invited to a meeting with a new group, headed by a new “thinker,” who had something to present to myself and a colleague. We walked past the foosball table to the meeting room. Naturally the room had no chairs, and was covered in multi-colored Post-it Notes. Once they had gone through their mood boards and the non-linear presentation of this new idea, I turned to the other old geezer in the room. “Didn’t we look at something like this 8 years ago?”
“Yeah, we worked out that compute power just to run the UI for one session wouldn’t be available for a couple of decades.” The children were somewhat disappointed, and (fortunately) we were never asked back to their romper room.
But experience can be both a blessing and a curse, learned aahortwy:
I experienced both sides of this in five years at a company in hypergrowth. … I learned so much at that job: … In year 1, I was determined to accomplish X and ignored the skeptical comments of some colleagues who’d been at the company longer than me. I failed and wasted some time. In years 4 and 5, new colleagues were determined to accomplish X and ignored my skeptical comments.
2. IBM Wazi as-a-Service Confusion
“Mainframe” is not a dirty word. It’s secure, vertically scalable, and it put the VM in VMware. Now, what IBM Wazi did for on-prem LPARs, Wazi aaS promises to extend to hosting z/OS instances.
Analysis: Mainframe-as-a-service reinvented
Mainframes and cloud-native DevOps need not be incompatible. To modernize legacy apps using hybrid cloud instances for dev/test—and even prod—can be a big productivity boost. But isn’t it weird that IBM spun out its mainframe-as-a-service zCloud offering only a few months ago?
Mike Vizard: IBM Shifts Mainframe App Testing to the Cloud
While many workloads over the years have been migrated off mainframes or simply retired, the applications that run on Z/OS today are still among the most mission-critical that organizations run. … IBM this week revealed it has added the ability to set up testing environments on the IBM Cloud for z/OS mainframe applications.
IBM plans to make IBM Wazi as-a-Service (Wazi aaS) for z/OS generally available in the second half of this year, [which] will enable DevOps teams to self-provision an instance of az/OS virtual server on a secure private space running on IBM Cloud. … At the same time, it will become easier to modernize mainframe applications by making them more accessible to other applications via a set of secure APIs … using a cloud-native set of DevOps tools that run in a Kubernetes environment.
Modernizing mainframe applications is a less complicated endeavor than migrating them. The challenge is building, deploying, maintaining and securing all the APIs required to do so so represent a significant amount of effort.
OK, boomer, why are we talking about 1960s mainframes on DevOps.com? Here’s ArchieBunker:
Mainframes are different beasts them altogether, almost alien when you compare to PC hardware. You have binaries written for the S/360 system in the 1960s? Good news you can still run them natively without a recompile.
You think virtualization and containers are a hot topic? IBM was running multiple OS instances inside a VM in the 1970s. … The engineering is incredible.
But z/OSaaS? It’s déjà vu time for Beleagured Graybeard:
“Cloud Managed Services for z” AKA “zCloud” has been around for over 10 years. … IBM offloaded it with the Kyndryl spin, so its odd that they now want to re-invent it.
If it’s a strategic platform, why didn’t they hold onto it instead of spinning it off to Kyndryl? Sounds like yet more daft leadership decisions.
3. IBM’s Return to Work Plan has Vaccine Mandate
IBM wants to “keep employees safe” as they return to office work after being fully remote. In practice, this means a vaccine mandate.
Analysis: IBM Digital Health Pass is divisive to the vocal minority
Although there are exemptions on medical or religious grounds, IBM has promised to place dissenters on unpaid leave. As you might expect, the policy has a few employees up in arms.
Cassie Werber: How Salesforce, IBM, and HSBC are approaching return to work
When the pandemic hit, and IBM moved 95% of its workforce to fully remote, it was pleasantly surprised to discover no drop in productivity. … Still, they planned to return to offices.
The company saw this as a way to keep employees safe. … One example … is its development of the IBM Digital Health Pass as an alternative to vaccine cards or paper vaccine certificates, which they use to make sure all the staff that come into their offices are vaccinated.
Arvind Krishna, IBM’s CEO, meanwhile came up with what he called the IBM Work From Home Pledge. [It] Included commitments to flexibility, kindness, sensitivity to family, setting boundaries, and acknowledged video fatigue. It concluded with a commitment to “be connected.”
Tricky to “be connected” if you’re not allowed back in the building. Anne D’Innocenzio, Heather Hollingsworth, Tali Arbel, Mae Anderson, Ken Sweet, Matt O’Brien and Dee-Ann Durbin:
IBM software engineer Justin Albano said his company recently notified employees that it would be revoking badge access to workers who aren’t vaccinated or haven’t proved that they are. “We’re not able to enter an IBM office at this time,” said Albano.
He said some workers have successfully sought religious exemptions but “my thought process was I shouldn’t have to explain to my company my faith” to get out of a policy that’s “immoral in its foundation.”
What’s the alternative? With a perspective, it’s Chris Haney:
Or, get the vaccine. Protect yourself and the people around you. You people really are detached from reality.
The Moral of the Story: Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know.
You have been reading The Long View by Richi Jennings. You can contact him at @RiChi or [email protected].
Image: Marcin Wichary—cc:by; leveled and cropped (ask your parents)