In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the October episode of the “I am a Mainframer” podcast features Luciano Gimeno, LinuxONE Sales Manager of North & Latin America at IBM. Host Steven Dickens, VP and Practice Leader at The Futurum Group, takes a deep dive into Luciano’s journey from a z/OS programmer to a LinuxONE sales leader and how he embraced the continuous change in the mainframe world.
Hailing from Argentina, Luciano has dedicated nearly two decades to the mainframe world. His career trajectory is a testament to his dedication and the versatility and dynamism that mainframes offer. Beginning as a z/OS system programmer, Luciano transitioned to a more sales-oriented role while retaining his technical roots.
Their conversation emphasized the benefits of continuous learning. Adaptability is key, whether it’s the shift from a purely technical role to a client-facing one or the evolution of the mainframe from its early days to the present hybrid cloud era. Luciano’s journey at IBM is a testament to this. Despite being in the mainframe space for almost two decades, his role and responsibilities have constantly evolved, underlining the importance of staying updated and adaptable.
Luciano’s insights also offer encouragement to newcomers in the tech world. He started with a strong technical foundation, working deeply embedded in the nuances of the z/OS. With time, he progressed, embracing sales, client interactions, and a broader landscape of mainframe functionalities – from z/OS administration to spearheading LinuxONE sales across the Americas. His success is partly due to the support he has received from his mentors in the mainframe community. As he and Steven highlighted, while the mainframe community is closely knit, industry veterans readily share their expertise with those new to the arena, fostering a culture of growth and knowledge-sharing.
This is an inspiring conversation you won’t want to miss!
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The “I Am A Mainframer” podcast explores the careers of those in the mainframe ecosystem. Hosted by Steven Dickens, Senior Analyst at The Futurum Group, each episode is a conversation that highlights the modern mainframe, insight into the mainframe industry, and advice for those looking to learn more about the technology.
The podcast is sponsored by the Open Mainframe Project, a Linux Foundation project that aims to build community and adoption of Open Source on the mainframe by eliminating barriers to Open Source adoption on the mainframe, demonstrating the value of the mainframe.
Announcer: This is the I Am A Mainframer Podcast, brought to you by the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project. Episodes explore the careers of mainframe professionals and offer insights into the industry and technology. Now your host, Senior Analyst and Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Futurum Research, Steven Dickens.
Steven Dickens: Hello and welcome to the “I am a Mainframer Podcast,” brought to you by the Open Mainframe Project. My name’s Steven Dickens, I’m your host and I’m really looking forward to today’s episode, which is to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m joined by a genuinely dear friend of mine, Luciano Gimeno from IBM. Hey Luci, welcome to the show.
Luciano Gimeno: Hi, Steven, how are you?
Steven Dickens: This has to be the highlight of my week, all week. We’ve been having some fun back and forth. Genuinely looking forward to the next sort of half an hour to connect with you. I think a fantastic story, when the team asked me of who we could get on for Hispanic Heritage Month, you and your story as a mainframer based in Argentina just came instantly to mind. So I’d love to showcase you in the next half hour. So let’s just get started. What do you do for IBM and maybe give the viewers and listeners an introduction?
Luciano Gimeno: Yeah, sure. Well, my name is Luciano Gimeno. I work as a LinuxONE sales leader for the Americas region, so all the region from Canada to Argentina and what was the other question? Sorry Steven.
Steven Dickens: Just introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.
Luciano Gimeno: Yeah, so I’ve been doing this job for 12 years now, but actually I’ve been in the mainframe space for around 19 or maybe 18 years. So I started as a z/OS system programmer, and actually I’m proud of that. IBM trained me on that job, so they trained me as a system programmer. I work with people that actually I admired and I respect a lot. So they helped me a lot with a lot of things. I worked with people with maybe 20 years of experience and I did that job for seven years. I worked as a z/OS system programmer for seven years. It was not always the same, because sometimes I worked as a z/OS storage administrator, other times z/OS administrator, other times as KICKS on Db2, and then I joined the sales team in 2011 and at the very beginning I worked as a client technical specialist.
So that’s the technical part of the sales cycle and I think that’s actually very important, because we sell technology, right? We are a technology company and I did that job for six years, almost six years and I worked with customers from all the South American region, Spanish South American region, which includes Argentina, Hawaii, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, all those countries. So it was really fun to be in that role, but then we launched the LinuxONE brand and I became the brand manager for the South American region and Latin America and I did that job for three years. And back in 2020 I joined the Americas team. So basically doing the same thing that I was doing on Latin America, but in the US and Canada too.
Steven Dickens: So let’s go back. You’re coming out of college, this is first job for IBM?
Luciano Gimeno: Second. Second, yeah. Second job second, but I was like six months in another job before.
Steven Dickens: So let’s talk about, you said IBM trained you to get onto the mainframe. Maybe start there, maybe you’ve got some technical background, you’re coming to the platform for the first time. What was that like, because we’ve got a lot of people who are maybe coming to the mainframe, coming to this podcast, trying to understand what it’s all about. We’re going to talk about… Because I think you’ve done all of the jobs, so I want to try and understand a little bit about what that experience was like coming new to the platform sort of 20 years ago?
Luciano Gimeno: It was very interesting actually, because I was studying in the university. I was studying IT engineering in the university, and IBM was looking for IT people with good English skills. I don’t know why I got that job because-
Steven Dickens: Your English is fantastic, my friend. You always say this very humbly, but I’ve been on so many calls with you when we were at IBM and your English is fantastic.
Luciano Gimeno: I have good and bad days, just that but yeah, and then they start training me on z/OS and the first look was like, “What is this?” I knew nothing about that and they trained me from zero with all the concepts and theory that you can ever imagine, but then I started working with highly skilled people, people that work with mainframe for long period of time. So I work with them, I partner with them, they teach me a lot, a lot. They help me a lot and actually today’s the same, but on the same side, right? Back then it was more about technical skills. Right now it’s more about selling skills, competencies and things like that. And you keep progressing, and I keep finding people that I admire and I work with and this is true.
I mean, you know our executives, they are all brilliant and every time you join calls with them or you work with them, you learn new things from them. So that could be one good advice for all the young people right. Now that I say that, I don’t feel young anymore, but okay. I mean you need to partner with people that is better than you basically, and you will learn from them.
Steven Dickens: Well, I think that that’s… I’ve been doing this show for four years now and it comes through as a consistent point as I talk to people, the mainframe community helps people with skills. It’s a really interesting sub-community within the IT space because people are main framers. This show is called “I am a Mainframer.” People associate with this platform and are prepared to help people, whether that’s across companies, across vendors, it’s genuinely a community.
Luciano Gimeno: Because we know each other and we behave like family basically and if we don’t know each other, we know another guy that work with. So it’s like, yeah, family, we help each other, we work together, and that’s how it works.
Steven Dickens: Yeah. So you mentioned you did a transition from that technical role you were doing instead of a system programming and storage. Then you went into the technical role, but in the sales function, talk to me about that transition from being super technical, hands on, to working with clients?
Luciano Gimeno: It was a challenge, honestly, at the very beginning it was a challenge, because I was a deep technical guy. I was like, don’t bother me, I’m doing my job, I’m doing the best I can, this is what I do. I mean, I was not like candid at the very beginning. I didn’t know how to talk with people, those let’s say marketing skills that you need to have. Like you, I mean, you connect with people easily, right, Steven? I mean, you know a lot of people, you work with them, you talk with them, but you are the technical guy at the very beginning it’s not easy, because you are shy. I mean you don’t like to be questioned. You don’t like to start doing those things that you need to do on the set side. So it was a challenge, but I’m happy that I did that change, to be honest. I’m happy.
Steven Dickens: So how did you go about making that change? You’re a technical guy, you are in your screen, you’re doing what you need to do. Now you’ve moved into a sort of people side of the business, still obviously technical, still got to know your stuff, but it’s more people, it’s more working with clients. How did you make that transition?
Luciano Gimeno: I don’t know. I think my wife helped me on that because she’s very nice with people and I learned from her. I think that’s how I started. I mean, just by looking how other people do their job and try to copy them until I was good enough for doing what needs to be done.
Steven Dickens: So let’s run forward a little bit more. This is the part of your career when we started to get to know each other. Talk to us about Linux on the platform. We have a lot of people on the show who talk about Linux on the platform. It’s really fascinating and I’ve had hundreds of conversations with you about Linux adoption in South America originally. You’ve also now got a perspective from the whole of the Americas. Where do you see Linux on the platform?
Luciano Gimeno: What do you mean by that, where do I see it?
Steven Dickens: Yeah, I mean adoption. I mean I know some of the huge projects you’ve been involved in over the last sort of eight years. I know obviously you can’t mention customer names and I’m not putting you in that position, but where, maybe take the macro view, where do you see Linux on this platform? We had an inflection point that I was involved in, in 2015 with launching LinuxONE, but where do you see it? I mean, you’ve just got a fantastic perspective on this stuff.
Luciano Gimeno: Yeah, it’s a growing platform for sure. I mean, Linux on Z and LinuxONE have been growing a lot during these years. We have use cases for a lot of things. It’s not just about the consolidation story, it’s also about modernizing environments, new features that helps bring in new workloads such as AI, as you know, the new box has the AI chip, workloads that require better security, workloads that take advantages of our own chip compression and on chip encryption features. So I see this platform for a variety of things, and I see that we have been growing a lot, a lot, honestly, a lot.
A couple of years ago I remember that some of our huge customers were not using Linux on Z or LinuxONE, and now maybe they have 3, 4, 5 LinuxONE boxes specifically dedicated to one or two things because they see the value there. Of course, there’s room for improvement. I still think that we need to keep growing and growing and growing and growing and on both sides, on the IBM Z install base, but also on getting new customers and the good thing about this is that we have a size for all the customers. We have big boxes and we have small boxes targeted to maybe new customers or startup companies or things like that and depending on the workloads that the customer would like to run there, they will see the benefits of our platform there.
Steven Dickens: It’s interesting you mentioned the new customer. So many people think that mainframe is only the people who had mainframes in the ’60s and who are stuck on a platform and it’s not growing, it’s not growing in its capacity and people are thinking of getting off. I know you and I take a different perspective on that. Where do you see the new clients? I know you can’t share names, but I know you’ve got a real sort of hard line into some of those new client engagements. I know we were involved in one down in Jamaica, which is a public reference, so maybe we can talk about that one, but it’d be fantastic to get a perspective of the new clients that are coming to the platform because of LinuxONE.
Luciano Gimeno: Yeah, my point of view, it’s not about the industry where these customers are, right? It’s about the workload that they would like to run and the value proposition that we have in our platform for that workload. So in some cases could be, the value proposition, could be security and we have, you know this, you help us creating a lot of these offerings, but we have specific offerings for security. Then we have other offerings about consolidation and sustainability. Then we have offerings all modernization and Kubernetes environments. So we have offerings for a lot of things depending on the customer workloads, needs also needs some pains and that’s what we need to understand from each customer, because it’s not a general purpose server. I mean, we need to understand the final workload, what the customer would like to run there and then show them the value prop there.
Steven Dickens: It’s interesting you mentioned Kubernetes, I think the traditional legacy view of the mainframe is z/OS proprietary. I mean, we’re recording this for the Open Mainframe Project, which is a project hosted by the Linux Foundation. So people should think it’s open but maybe just, I know from some of the work that you and I talk about, you’ve got a fantastic perspective on Kubernetes on the platform, and we’ve also got probably some technical depth that a lot of people haven’t got. So where are you seeing that on the platform of late?
Luciano Gimeno: So I mean, when we talk about Kubernetes or OpenShift or those kinds of workloads, it’s not a LinuxONE only thing. It could be on IFLs too, it’s both things and a lot of the traditional workloads, the ones you mentioned like KICKS Db2, all the z/OS traditional things. What I think is not everything needs to be changed. Some things will need to be modernized because we want to add new functionalities and there is where OpenShift plays, and if you put all the things together in the same box, of course you will have a lot of benefits like co-location benefits, less latency, less amounts of servers needed and with that you’ll get all your sustainability benefits.
And sustainability is a big umbrella for us, but it’s about consolidation and the consolidation brings the sustainability messages and actually I think that the mainframe and the LinuxONE platform, it’s a tool for achieving the ESG metrics that our customer have. It’s not just like something that will tell you how good or bad you are on the sustainability side. It will help you achieving those metrics.
Steven Dickens: And I mean that’s come through in the latest z16 and the LinuxONE and 4, the sustainability message, is that resonating with clients? Are you seeing people start their journey with you because they’re looking for a sustainability server, they’re starting their journey there?
Luciano Gimeno: It is. It is, because now we have companies that want to achieve those metrics and again, it’s not just a tool that will tell you if you’re good or bad. It will reduce your energy consumption, it will reduce your space, it will reduce your tooling needs and that saves money too because in some cases, I mean-
Steven Dickens: It’s not just good for your ESG, it’s good for you saving money as well, which makes it easier from a sales point of view, I would imagine to have those conversations.
Luciano Gimeno: Yes. Yes. Instead of buying or building new data centers, you can consolidate things in a little toolbox and yes, of course that helps too.
Steven Dickens: Yeah, anything that makes your life easier as a salesman to sell these things, hey, Luci?
Luciano Gimeno: Correct. Yeah.
Steven Dickens: Okay. So I mean, we’ve talked about Linux there. Maybe let’s spend a bit more time on you. Fascinating, and I don’t feel we’ve broken that yet. Maybe talk this session’s Hispanic Heritage Month. We’re trying to showcase I think one of the best leaders in IBM personally around some of the work you’re doing. What are you seeing in Latin America with the skills on the platform? What are you seeing? Maybe let’s focus in on that for a moment. What are you seeing in, I know you are based in Argentina, what are you seeing across South America more generally?
Luciano Gimeno: So we have very capable people, right in Latin America, people that are focused in doing the things the right way with good technical skills. So when we talk about mainframe, of course we have plans and we have activities for increasing the mainframe skills that we have in our market, but when we talk about Linux, I mean the same skills that we use on the X86 side of the business can be used on Linux on Z or LinuxONE. So I don’t see a huge skill gap on that side to be honest and if we do have a gap, I don’t know, CVM for example, we can cover that gap. We have the best people that can help us address those skills.
Steven Dickens: So you seeing the Latin American region, you’ve been with the mainframe down there now for, what is it, 19 years, you’re seeing the growth and still seeing it expand?
Luciano Gimeno: Yes, definitely. Definitely. We have been growing a lot. Customers that are adopting our technology and in some cases very traditional customers, huge, huge mainframe customers that are adopting the Linux technology now and why are they doing that, because of some use cases that we have that are really good for them. I mean, of course I cannot talk about all the details, but as I told you, in some cases, customers that were using just z/OS with all their core applications that were running very well and they keep growing, but then they saw all the benefits that they have on Linux on Z or LinuxONE, and they decided to adopt that there, in their data center.
Steven Dickens: So maybe let’s go spend a little few moments here. You’ve been on the platform 19 years now. What advice would you go back and give to your younger self? You’ve got a time machine, you get back to speak to Luci, age 21, 22. You’ve now got the benefit of hindsight. What advice would you give to yourself?
Luciano Gimeno: Let me think. I need to think about that. Meet you early maybe.
Steven Dickens: You wouldn’t have wanted to bump into me 20 years ago Luci, you’re too kind as always, but…
Luciano Gimeno: No, I mean I really believe that there’s a lot of value on the technical side of the job because again, we are all technology company. We are all part of a technology company. So my advice, I’m not sure if, to me, I think I did it. I mean, I stayed close to the technical side and I went really deep on that, but the advice could be to try to learn the most you can about about technology, but also be flexible because I mean, you can learn new things and the other thing that I really believe is that one of the key, let’s say skills that a person could have is the learning capability, when you can keep learning and you can keep doing your thing. Like you Steven, I mean, you’re doing a completely different job now than the job that you were doing previously and I saw that you’re one of the top 10 analysts in the US now.
Steven Dickens: Not the US, but I don’t want to brag but yes, it’s a crazy list.
Luciano Gimeno: That’s a learning capability, right and-
Steven Dickens: I think, I mean it’s interesting and thank you for the comments there, but it is interesting. I’ve been doing this for four years now, this podcast, and one of the things that consistently comes through is flexibility, willingness to learn. I continually ask this question in every episode, and probably 90% of people say the same thing. I haven’t done the work to analyze it, but most people’s answers is the same, flexibility, willingness to learn. It comes across very much in these calls.
Luciano Gimeno: So what are you saying, that I’m not original? I’m saying the same thing that the other people said.
Steven Dickens: I don’t know how to answer that now you’ve stump me. I’m agreeing with your point. I’m agreeing with your point and the ability, it’s intellectual curiosity and the willingness to learn.
Luciano Gimeno: Yeah, yeah. I mean you can get stuck with one skill or with one thing you need to progress and one thing that is interesting saying that, but I also said that I’m on the mainframe space for the last 19 years, but it was not always the same. I mean, different job roles, different skills, different workloads. I mean a couple of years ago, and you remember this very well, we talk about pervasive encryption for example, security thing, and I’m not an expert at that at all. So I had to learn a lot about security just because of that. AI, that’s another thing that I had to learn a lot and we all learn and we all keep learning about new things because our platform, it’s also flexible.
I mean, I think I said this to you, the mainframe from the ’60s, it’s not the same that the mainframe that we have now, I mean the Porsche 911 was built in the same year than the mainframe 1964 and if you compare that Porsche 911 with the new Porsche, it’s completely different, right?
Steven Dickens: It’s different. It’s electric, it’s got different automatic gearbox. It’s got so many technology, CarPlay, whatever, electronics. It’s nothing like a 911 from 1964 and the mainframe’s not the same either.
Luciano Gimeno: Not the same at all, not the same at all.
Steven Dickens: That’s a very good analogy. So that as always, you’re a great guest. That leads me on to, we’ve just looked back in that sentence. One of the questions I always ask, and I’m really fascinated with your answer, is where do you see the mainframe five years from there?
Luciano Gimeno: I think adding, and I’m thinking, right, I’m thinking about the answer, but I think we will have new things. We will keep adding new capabilities, new features that will help the customer’s businesses. So I see it alive and kicking, but I don’t know what kind of new features we will have or what are we going to lead with?
Steven Dickens: Yeah. Where do you see it fitting in maybe within the hybrid cloud trend that we’ve got? Where do you see that panning out? I mean, it’s interesting, I talk to all of the vendors I speak to, I’m probably doing 10 briefings a week minimum. It’s really interesting how hybrid has won. Hybrid is the answer. It’s no longer public cloud first, it’s hybrid. I was even on with one of the X86 vendors this week talking about repatriation of workloads from the public cloud back to on-premise. So I think the world has changed. Do you see that same vision?
Luciano Gimeno: Yes. Yes. I like to be open-minded on that. I mean, it’s a customer decision based on their needs. For some customers, one option is good for other customer, other option is better for others, it’s a mix of both things and again, it’s a workload discussion based on the customer needs. That’s what I think.
Steven Dickens: Yeah, I tend to agree. I tend to agree. Well, Luci, this has been fantastic. We talk on a regular basis, but it’s always great to have you on one of these shows. Thank you so much for joining us, and it’s a personal pleasure to highlight you as one of the best leaders in IBM, in my opinion, from your perspective there in Argentina for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Luciano Gimeno: Thank you very much. It was a short podcast. Come on.
Steven Dickens: I know I could talk to you for hours, my friend, but we’ve got to wrap it up. You’ve been listening to the “I am a Mainframer” podcast. I’m your host, Steven Dickens. Please click and subscribe and do all those things on YouTube and at various platforms, and we’ll see you next time. Thank you very much for listening.
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