What We Learned at COMMON POWERUp 2024

Leah Avner

The sun was shining, the air conditioner was pumping and everyone was smiling at the COMMON POWERUp conference in Fort Worth, Texas. 

Five members of the Briteskies team attended the annual conference hosted by the COMMON User Group based out of Chicago. The POWERUp conference boasted an attendance of over 1100 people and promised to be a place where the IBM i community can gather "in-person to enjoy learning high-quality IBM i education, networking with peers, industry experts and solution providers" in order to better the industry and grow together as a whole, and this year's POWERUp delivered. 

Why We Hosted a Booth at COMMON POWERUp

While the conference is always a winner, this year marked a few firsts for the Briteskies team. Leah Avner, Robert Nettgen, Nate Schnieders, Nathan Giri and Bill Onion from Briteskies at COMMON POWERUp 2024 Firstly, our team hosted an expo booth which we haven't done in a handful of years. Not only did we have a great time mingling with fellow service providers, but the booth proved to be a great place to meet people, learn about their companies, and hear how different members of the community are using RPG, PHP, and node.js to advance their IBM i business needs. 

Besides serving as an excellent hub for conversation, the booth gave our team a place to land and regroup during the open expo times. Are you one of the people we met at the booth? Drop us a line and say hello! We'd love to stay in touch! 

Trevor Perry and Briteskies 

Another first was our involvement with Trevor Perry.  Bill Onion introduced Trevor's Keynote speech which focused on positive influences and "being the star that you are".

Bill Onion Introducing Trevor Perry Be the Star That You Are by Trevor Perry Trevor Perry Perspective Glasses

"The IBM i community is pretty close-knit and positive partnerships can be instrumental. Whether in a development environment or beyond, it is up to us to keep ourselves and our business in a positive place," Bill Onion reflected. 

Trevor recently published a second edition of his book Never Iron While You're Naked. You can learn about his message of positivity and inspiration using this link

IBM Announcements 

At the opening event, Steve Will made a handful of announcements including that WatsonX continues to be worked on by IBM. One of the latest features of the tool includes its ability to allow users to run SQL queries and Bill Onion from Briteskies takes a selfie with IBM CTO Steve Will statements, as well as the option for users to create table outputs in a readable way for any user or developer.

Another announcement was the new tool IBM is working on based on its experience with Code Assistant for Z. Code Assistant for Z is a large language model based tool that currently can be used to convert COBOL to Java. The new tool will empower non-RPG developers to work within the RPG environment by "translating" old RPG code and then "examining and explaining it" to readers using a ChatGPT-like program. Because older languages like RPG II can be difficult to read, the goal for the new, currently unnamed, code assistant tool is to speed up the process for developers and allow them to decipher the program at a quicker, easier pace. 

Steve Will closed out the remarks by making a push for collecting donations of code from IBM i shops which will help train the code assistant. Briteskies works with many companies running older code that was written by a since-departed developer and this tool could be a big game changer for us and our clients!

For more in-depth information about Steve Will's announcements check out this article by IT Jungle. 

API Integration and Other Popular Topics Discussed at POWERUp 2024

With close to thirty presentations related to APIs it was one of the biggest topics discussed over the four-day event. Various vendors like Eradani and Infoview Systems discussed their API-related tools and many presenters spoke about how and when to use APIs, including Briteskies' Bill Onion.

Bill's presentation titled API Integration: What's the Best Option for You? offered a systematic approach to API integrations and explored options for when an IBM i shop should consider using APIs and which avenue should be taken based on the use-case. We were pleased to see that our interest in APIs is matched by the IBM i community, as many attendees shared they were beginning to venture into their own API journey.


Security continues to be a popular topic that is becoming more front-of-mind for IBM i shops and Robert Nettgen spoke about the subject multiple times throughout the four days. Each event was well attended and his Disaster Recovery presentation included enthusiastic IMG_4813 participation from audience members. Many attendees shared their horror stories of IBM i hardware failures and the harrowing road of Disaster Recovery that followed. 

As always, the Cybersecurity News Report, a COMMON frequent flyer presentation, was well-received and offered a humorous take on this less-than-amusing subject.

The Health of the IBM i Community

Overall, another successful event and hats off to the COMMON team who continue to put on high-level educational events. 

"It's always great to meet people in-person, and the level of conversations, presentations, and networking that COMMON provides is so valuable," Nate Schnieder a first-time COMMON attendee shared. 

We loved meeting and hanging out with you all. Don't forget to stay in touch with the Briteskies team via LinkedIn or by visiting this link

Until then, join us at the MITEC event happening June 4 in Livonia, Michigan! 

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