By: J.D. Ross
(315) 443-3094

Two School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty members were recognized last week by IBM for their contributions to the field of mainframe computer technology education.

David and Susan Dischiave, both Associate Professors of Practice at the iSchool, were recognized in a faculty meeting for their longstanding work with IBM and its mainframe computer business.

In an announcement by IBM executive Kevin Cleary, the Dischiaves were formally presented with two faculty awards.  A $10,000 award was presented for their work on assessing performance attributes of distributed data, and a $20,000 award was presented for modern enterprise computing.

The $10,000 award will support a new research project involving a multi-school and multi-disciplinary student team composed of students from Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the iSchool, as well as students from Telecom Bretagne, a university in France, who will participate virtually.

The project will be administered through the Global Enterprise Technology Center. 

The project team will look at data streaming and the process of examining and assessing data in motion as it is being transmitted and transferred, rather than as stored data. The project is designed to simulate a large enterprise class server and form into a “Z Enterprise security showcase,” David Dischiave said. Students will first build the software and controls, then implement audit and monitoring procedures. They then will be charged with hacking their own system in order to assess and document vulnerabilities and to create solutions for them, Dischiave explained.

“Most analysis today is done on data that is at rest, and you’re just accessing the persistent resting data,” he explained. “We’re planning to flip that equation and instead look at making decisions as the data occurs. Using data coming from devices that provide data streams, such as radar systems and air traffic control, provides a different dynamic. Once the data is streaming, it will be assessed in real time, with decisions made during the course of reviewing and analyzing information carried in the data stream.” He said the intent is to “be less reactive, catching things and being able to adjust appropriately at the time they occur, minimizing losses and maximizing profitability.”  The project is expected to begin in the first quarter of next semester.

The $20,000 modern enterprise computing award will allow the Dischiaves to address the needs of the new mainframe technology manager by providing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that will explain the technical and management architecture that comprise enterprise computing environments.  

The MOOC will focus on identifying and solving large complex problems by using enterprise computing technologies (IBM’s System z Mainframes), and will include the basic architecture and technology principles that comprise enterprise computing environments.  The course will have an experimental component allowing the students to perform hands on exercises to become familiar with IBM’s  enterprise class computing system, including the mainframe operating system, z/OS, and other basic system services.  

The goal of the MOOC will be to provide, to a broad audience of students, an overview of enterprise problem solving techniques.  In addition, the course will create an awareness of modern hardware and software architectures that students can use as alternatives to the server sprawl technologies of the 1990's that created very complex computing infrastructures, wasteful energy consumption, and increased labor costs for distributed computing environments.

“The whole intent of the MOOC is to learn to be proactive, because typically everything is reactive. The goal is to discover what smart global enterprises should do and the tools and techniques they can use to be more proactive,” David Dischiave said. He is structuring the course to have a broad perspective, so that students who are in technology, computer science, information systems, and information management programs will all find it interesting, and that it will also be valuable to entry-level business management professionals. 

The IBM Faculty Awards program is a competitive worldwide initiative intended to encourage collaboration between researchers at leading universities worldwide with those in IBM’s research, development and services organizations. This year, fourteen educators from institutions around the globe were recognized. These awards are a subset of the company’s University Awards program, which supports basic research, curriculum innovation, and educational assistance in focus areas that are fundamental to business and technology innovation.