Linux student gets second chance

Sometimes it's just a question of right place, right time. After completing a computer science degree with first-class honours at Victoria University, Frank Kruchio applied for a post-graduate position with IBM. He was turned down.

Sometimes it's just a question of right place, right time.

After completing a computer science degree with first-class honours at Victoria University, Frank Kruchio applied for a post-graduate position with IBM. He was turned down.

Earlier that year -- 2002 -- Kruchio had won a worldwide Linux program writing competition. He had entered a Linux server-workstation optimisation project he worked on at university. It was, ironically, the IBM Linux Scholar Challenge in which he’d beaten more than 1400 entrants from 699 universities in 64 countries.

Undeterred, Kruchio headed to Europe for a break before returning to New Zealand and a job in Wellington with systems integrators Catalyst IT. It was 90% Linux work and Kruchio was pleased to be involved in his specialist area.

IBM, however, not long after began to set up an Auckland-based Linux competency centre to support IBM customers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The head of the new centre, Chris Phillips, was inundated with resumes but one CV stood out. Phillips didn’t hesitate this time to offer a job to Kruchio.

Kruchio travelled to Auckland to check the centre out. He got the impression that IBM was "very serious about Linux”.

It was an opportunity to pull up his sleeves and get stuck in with heavyweight systems such as optimising business mission-critical applications to run on Linux on the IBM Z Series (previously the S390).

He was also struck with the calibre of the people at Big Blue -- including Andreas Giardet from Italy who created the Linux distribution Yoper.

“Linux people are scattered around the world and you are usually working with them over the internet," says Kruchio.

"They had these very talented people in the same place. This gave me the opportunity to work with guys every day. Once you are exposed to a team like this you can learn very fast.”

The centre, the star customer of which is Air New Zealand and which also has clients in Australia, now has 10 staff working on customising Linux distributions to make sure they fit well within customers’ IT environments.

“The key point is that Linux can be anything you want to make,” says Kruchio. “You can run it on your watch or your mainframe. You can customise it in any way you like.”

Apart from working with the big iron S390, Kruchio has also been working on running virtual Linux servers using GSX VMWare – software which lets one Intel-based machine run multiple operating systems including up to 40 Linux servers.

Currently Kruchio is working on integrating IBM's WebSphere 5.1 middleware platform with a new version of Linux and making sure they run well together. In the past six months he has helped build a highly customised and secure version of a Linux server that can be deployed very quickly on new hardware.

Continuing Linux training is another plus for Kruchio. Each of the Linux competency centre team members has completed Red Hat certification training and they will be trained on other platforms.

Kruchio is sold on the company once known for its grey, dependable image. “This is the place to be if you are working with Linux.”

Tags Linux

More about Air New ZealandBig BlueIBM AustraliaIntelLinuxRed HatVictoria UniversityVictoria University

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