It’s not always easy to spot a Clark Kent in our midst. Case in point . . . have you ever seen Alan Seiden without his glasses?
It seems the folks at IBM got a glimpse of the super powers hidden beneath Alan’s mild-mannered exterior and named him a 2018 IBM Champion.
His super powers weren’t news to me, though.
I first got to know Alan when I had some PHP Toolkit questions. Before I knew it, I was contributing to the Toolkit, my first open source contribution. He mentored me on using Zend Framework 1 on the IBM i, including the custom database adapter that he wrote to work with Db2. Year after year, I would meet him and see him speak at the ZendCon conference. His willingness to share his knowledge and his quiet enthusiasm inspired me to start teaching, too.
Most people know Alan as that smart, nice, unassuming guy who speaks passionately about using open source, PHP, Db2, and IBM i at conferences and user group meetings. The one who answers forum questions related to using PHP and open source technologies to extend and modernize traditional IBM i applications. The one who shares knowledge freely in person and online via this blog and his monthly newsletter. The one who occasionally breaks out in a song or dance.
Here are a few things that many people don’t know about Alan (besides the song and dance habit mentioned above).
- He recruits young developers to embrace the IBM i as their platform of choice. Alan has mentored many, including Liam Allan and rising star Josh Hall. He also hosts Club Seiden, a private forum where younger developers share their ideas and knowledge with one another. Currently at 37 members, only those with strong technical and collaboration skills — and a passion for open source and IBM i — are invited to participate. The result is a tight-knit community whose members broadly promote advanced usage of IBM i. These young developers are quickly becoming some of the IBM i’s top advocates.
- He hosts two FREE CIO Summit events per year, most recently in conjunction with System i Developer. A year ago Alan noticed that many of his C-level customers were hungry for a chance to talk with peers about the challenges of IT leadership. He promptly invited several to a FREE CIO Summit in the heart of Manhattan, where the group spent the entire day exchanging ideas. Their enthusiasm gave Alan the incentive to work with fellow IBM Champions Susan Gantner, Jon Paris, and Paul Tuohy to expand the event to two days in conjunction with the RPG & DB2 Summit conference.
- He contributes to several IBM i open source projects, including co-developing with IBM the PHP Toolkit (a free package that enables PHP to access IBM i assets), and providing ongoing support for it.
These are just a few reasons why Alan is one of my all-time favorite Super Heroes, and why I cheered when he received the IBM Champion honor.
I hope you have the pleasure of getting to know him, too.