Thursday, June 16, 2011

Global Services means GLOBAL SERVICES...

When they say Global Services, they really mean Global Services…

Some of you may be aware that I used to report to the manager of the North American region. A few months ago I was moved to Global Services which is an awesome reaction to some of the work I have done at Zend. As a result I had a chance to visit the Zend folks in Europe including Paris, Cologne and Milan. The trip was well planned and orchestrated by the local team and I sure had my skates on! One thing that became crystal clear is that there is HUGE demand for application modernization using PHP in Europe!

First, in the West end of Paris I had a wonderful opportunity to meet one of the few remaining IBM i focused FTSS (Field Technical Sales Support) by the name of Philippe Beorgeois. Philippe hosted a two day event at the IBM offices near the West side of Paris on modernization and I had a chance to present an introductory breakout session on PHP for IBM i. With well over 170 attendees and about 35 people in my room the event was a HUGE success on every level.

Our team in Paris including Christophe, Christian, Clement and David were exceptional hosts. I did not have to worry about anything as they make sure I did not get lost. I would highly recommend the Metro system and anxiously await Scott Klement to review the rail someday. Speaking of rail, on Wednesday I took a bullet train (Thalys) from Paris to Cologne Germany where I met our local account manager Stefanie.

She introduced me to a wonderful customer called GroupMT where Dr. Rainer Schmitz is working magic with PHP on his IBM i.
Here is the link to his webinar in German where he discusses some of his awesome achievements.

Two big discoveries as Cologne is the home of Kolsh style beer so I had to try some…

The Dome of Cologne which is a magnificent cathedral that is the final resting place of the Magi (three wise men from Christian history). As I emerged from the train station I got a great look at the cathedral. I received a call from Stefanie who asked where I was and I responded “I’m between the train station and this really dirty church…” she giggled and new exactly where I was. After checking with a few of the locals I discovered the dirt is from hundreds of years of train soot. There is a walking tour available inside the cathedral for the low price of a 1 euro donation. I highly recommend the investment.

When it was time to leave Cologne, Stefanie dropped me off at the station and when I saw my train come up on the board I saw a message. It was in German so out came the Blackberry and thanks to Google Translate I discovered the message read “fall from train”. Needless to say the last train was canceled so I headed back to the Four Points hotel for one more night and enjoyed a little more Kolsch.

I got to spend my Saturday off in Paris and see some of the sights. This was very cool. As I love to walk I took a Metro from my hotel in the opera district to the Eiffel Tower. I was beginning to feel like an expert Parisian on the Metro. I walked from the Eiffel Tower to the American Church, then to the Grand Palace, up the Tuileries to the Louvre and then to Notre Dame. After experiencing the Cathedral in Cologne I was not as impressed with the size of Notre Dame as I was with the relics. The museum tour is a little over priced, but I would not have missed it for the world as they have a relic that contains a sliver from the cross of Jesus and many other priceless artifacts. Feeling a bit tired I walked back to my hotel and grabbed a quick nap. Then off to meet some awesome friends for dinner, Anne and Kent, who just happened to be on vacation in Paris.

Sunday was the trip to Milan and began my visit to COMMON Europe. Dinner that night was in a little café in the Piazza el Duomo, a very famous cathedral.

The next day I went to COMMON and met with Angela and Elena, our Zend team in Italy. Along with Enrico who has recently been recruited to the ZF Core team from professional services, they do a great job taking care of our customers. It was an unbelievable experience because as I presented my session in English there were attendants who translated it into Italian for people who got headsets. It was a little unsettling when I told a joke because as the English speaking folks would giggle about 3 seconds later the folks with the headsets would giggle. But a great turn out and wonderful response for PHP on IBM i! several session by Zend and other companies regarding PHP!

The first night of COMMON we had a great dinner with some IBM’ers. Met up with Steve Will and his lovely wife, Sherry, Alison Butterill, Trevor Perry and some new friends.

The second night was the Gala event. This was truly special as we were shuttled out to the country to a farm with live entertainment. There was an Italian version of the renaissance fair where they conducted sword fights and dancing. After a wonderful dinner we were shuttled back to the hotel and I saw a little more of Milan.

Sessions at COMMON in Italy were VERY well attended. The Zend team was fully engaged starting with Christian Durel our General Manager of European Operations. Working with a couple of other partners he led a very popular round table on New Business Models, innovation, skills development and professional attitude as key factors to exit the current crisis. Many attendees found it to be VERY helpful as they move forward in this treacherous economy!

There were a few other PHP sessions that explored several different aspects of the technology. it impresses me how creative people become once they realize the chains of the 5250 interface have been released. Mobile, javascript, Flash and other technologies are both powerful and liberating. Seeing members of the IBM i community en bracing these technologies reinforces the fact that we are all on the right track.

Also on deck was Elena and Enrico who hosted a seminar on PHP on the last day. I hear it went very well! I could not stick around as I had to high-tail it home for my son's graduation. Another AWESOME event!

Without question this was an AWESOME trip. WE covered a lot of ground, did a lot of business and saw a lot of the area. Looking forward to my next trip across the pond which looks like it will be around November for an event in London!