Putting Knowledge Into Practice

Area of Knowledge A summary of how you have learned the area of knowledge Evidence of applying the claimed knowledge to a working situation
Data and Information Management The data and information management aspects of the computer science training were aimed at helping me chart clear paths to the attainment of skills necessary for productivity in a practical work environment. The critical elements of the training included: data warehousing, Cognos, enterprise content management, analytical systems, DB2, information management systems (IMSs), and data server management. The practicability nature of these elements of the training demanded that information garnered from learning resources provided by professors and libraries (public, private and online) be combined with extensive practical application in real-life situations.

As a Cognos trainee, I had to acquire skills that would put me in a position to serve in any capacity including professional author, business author, developer, project manager, and administrator. With this kind of flexibility, it will be much easier for me to fit into any role within the jobs market.

Information on Cognos professional authorship was acquired through both theoretical and practical instructor-guided methods. I first went through all the notes at my disposal and then under the guidance of instructors ensured that all the theoretical information on Cognos and Report Studio BI particularly relating to multidimensional data was used in practical systems.

Data warehousing was one of the most time-intensive elements of the training owing to its comprehensive nature. I was able to acquire relevant information regarding the steps to take in designing both a data warehouse and a data mart. For the former, I learned that the fundamental step in the procedure is the establishment of the database design and this step should be succeeded by plotting the architecture of the data warehouse. In the structuring of the data mart, the critical learning aspect was the session on multidimensional modeling.

The section on information management systems (IMSs) also provided a chance to adequately apply information gained in class to a practical setup. Some of the primary sections covered in regards to IMS included database and transactional management, database administration, application programming, and systems programming. The induction phase for this unit covered the fundamentals of information management systems and the basic organization of databases. After the two areas were well covered, it was then easy to proceed to both theoretical and practical of both application and systems programming as well as database administration.

DB2 was one of the largest units in this training and through class lectures and workshops as well as practical sessions, I was able to adequately cover database administration, system administration, XML, Data sharing, QMF, and application programming.

The training in this section was for the most part instructor-led, though I had to go dedicate time to personally acquire more skills as pertains to the unit. The groundwork was established through attending classes on DB2 and z/OS family fundamentals. This was then followed by an intensive SQL session after which I was able to proceed into the theoretical and practical applications of QMF and administration.

Enterprise content was my favorite and most educative element of the training and as such, I was able to learn a lot during the coverage of this unit. In this section, the instructor took us through FileNet Platform administration, programming, installation, and support. Aside from this, the theoretical lectures also covered content manager administration, programming, design, and administration. The intensive and practical nature of this unit made learning very interesting as it was easy to appreciate how every learned element was applicable in day-to-day data and information management.

The training on data and information management also took me through systems analytics and in this section, I gained knowledge that could be effectively used in systems, databases, and data warehouse administration. Aside from this, the instructor also took us through the importance of data and information management systems in business analysis.

Finally, the data server management training summed up all the elements into one comprehensive whole by emphasizing the importance of DB2 and DB2-SQL linkages in the light of database design and other critical elements of information management.

The yyyyyy company which I previously worked for is a small institution and its policy framework covers every area of operation of the institution with some very minor specifications on individual departments. Since the institution had a small department that dealt with ICT, the staffs in this area were responsible for the analysis of the system and offered suggestions as to what changes needed to be made. These same members of staff would sit with the senior administrators and pitch their ideas as well as offer suggestions on the best equipment providers.

My knowledge and skills in information data management made me a competent team member and I was able to actively and meaningfully contribute to emerging discussions.

The company had an operational virtual local area network (VLAN) that helps automate various institution-wide services. Access to the VLAN was regulated through an authentication system (Radius server). This radius server configured the users’ port numbers and confines them to a given VLAN that is in line with the individuals’ needs. As a result, members of staff had their network which was separate from the administration’s VLAN. The networking technology was mainly HP’s 802.1X pro-curve protocol through which the administration could provide either full or limited access depending on the authentication of the user. By this method, guests could not access secure regions within the network.

As part of the upgrade team, I utilized my knowledge in enterprise data management in contributing to the development of the company’s Pro-curve networking technology had been actualized using both hardware and software installations. The hardware included a switch (2524) and a routing switch (9300m series). All installed hardware came with particular software unique to individual functions which required specialized technical knowledge and which I could not manipulate had I not taken the course on data and information management.

In my time with the company I have been able to utilize my knowledge in DB2 and database networking in the establishment of both network and relational database management systems which had the DBMS engine as the basic foundation.

The engine was supported by various subsystems including the data definition, the data manipulation, the application generation, and the data administration subsystems. With both the network and relational DBMS’s I ensured that users easily access information from specific data banks within the college though authorization is still a reserve of the management.

The company had a corporate dynamic (automated) website with information being generated periodically. It provided important background information about the company and enlists services offered by the organization. The design, reengineering, updating, managing, and running of the website were mainly outsourced from companies that specifically deal with websites.

However, my Cognos knowledge came in handy in ensuring that the information collected via the website was securely stored in the database. Since this company operated as a member of the service industry, regular updating and redesigning of the website was mandatory to attract new clients, and this meant that more information management routine procedures had to be conducted.

The company had programs that could monitor traffic on the web and in the process collect information that could indirectly identify the user such as the IP address and the domain name. This information was however for administrative purposes only and the various information and data management applications that were at my disposal were to be used to ensure that no irrelevant records were stored.

Programming The curriculum comprehensively covered all elements of programming and it provided the opportunity for the development of hands-on expertise in the field. Through class lectures, I was in a position to grasp all the basics of programming, and in the initial stages of the course, I utilized all academic resources that were availed to me to understand the history of the practice.

I strongly hold the belief that as individuals grow in any profession, they go through various stages of development all of which require support and proper guidance from their more experienced associates. As a student, I desired to ensure that I exploited my tutors and the college resources to ensure that I met my fullest potential in terms of intellectual and social development. To this end, I read through books that guided me into the different elements of computer programming.

Any new knowledge obtained put me in a position to put theory into practice. As far as the lectures on programming languages were concerned, there are several things that I believe the instructors helped me achieve. First, the tutors guided me through most of the programming languages including C++, Java, VisualBasic, javascript, PHP, Python, and Perl. Secondly, the educators ensured that as a student, I developed a natural interest in programming by offering guidance whenever I appeared stuck.

Finally, the instructors put me in a position to use the knowledge gained in education for personal betterment through exemplification of how the information could be used in a practical field.
Throughout the unit, I made a lot of progress, improving immensely in my understanding of programming. Through classroom collaboration activities, I got a lot better at structuring programs using the various types of programming techniques taught to us including compiler optimization as well as concurrent, declarative and functional programming. I do believe that I should have gotten into a bit more depth in understanding the basics of the programming paradigm and programming style in the length of time covering the beginning of the course.

This is because the lack of adequate knowledge in these key areas made my progress into other items slower than should have been necessary. However, with time I was able to backtrack and pick up from where I had gotten lost. It has been an interesting journey coming from an individual who had no basic idea of what computer programming was all about to an individual who can create a detailed program and point the various key points that other programmers might have left out in defining their products.

The practical presentations were also very instrumental in my growth both as an individual and as a professional. I acquired the basic skills for packaging my ideas such that they can interest other individuals. I have also leaned not to take the opinions of other individuals personally particularly when they are presenting criticism of my work. I am now in a position to take the feedback from peers regarding my programming work and use their suggestions to perfect final presentations.

This has gone hand in hand with me learning not to involve any personal misgivings I hold for another person when reviewing and analyzing his/her professional work I was extensively involved in group activities on the development of practical computer programs my participation was well appreciated by my colleagues, witnessed by how well we gelled together.

As a team, we sacrificed a lot of our free time to work together on the literate, functional, and imperative collaborations elements of programming. The group activities helped me nurture and develop team-work skills and this will come in handy in the programming department I find myself in days to come.

While on attachment at XXXX company, I realized that each and every company has its own needs as far as operational software is concerned. This is major because every establishment has its specific structure and which requires that proper infrastructure be put in place to ensure that the operations in the company take place at the highest levels of efficacy.

The xxxxxx company also required that the necessary steps be software be utilized to ensure that the enterprise’s potential to handle large volumes of data without undergoing the strain that other systems face was well implemented. The company was from time to time making migrations between systems and with my programming knowledge I played an active role in the designing of programs that made the process of shifting data while maintaining the integrity of the information.

I discovered that an in-house programmer made it easy to migrate across systems without the company having to incur hefty maintenance costs which present in extreme labor force demands and high costs of software upgrading.

While with the xxxxxxx company we (the programmers) ensured that to remain competitively relevant, it is necessary to ensure that the systems are constantly upgraded to take the strain that is occasioned by the change in time. By far, tailor-made programs and operational software proved to be the most reliable of all the available software in the market purporting to handle an extensive spectrum of functions.

The company, being a business enterprise had to from time to time conform to the changes in software technology and as such, the programming team, which I was part of was tasked with the responsibility of drafting new payroll and staff management software. In this process, I was able to witness how the various languages that I had learned in class including C++ and java were utilized in a practical situation. The major advantage of having a programming section within a company’s IT department and which has served to attract the attention of most businesses was pointed out to me as a reduction in operating costs in the long run.

During this phase of my experience, I was able to see how the shift from closed sources systems to open source systems presented in the hefty expenses accompanied by the need for the maintenance of data integrity in the process of data transfer. I discovered that the switch from closed source to open source systems such as Oracle cannot be attained without the development of properly coded programs to guide the transfer.

The maintenance of data integrity proved to be by far the most challenging of all the issues that come with system changes. This is because of the issue of software compatibility. As a consequence, such a critical change needed very many technicians to come up with programs that analyzed the system track by track and ensure that the transferred data is in perfect condition.

Seeing how effectively the construction of programs to deal with regime changes in a company, I was in a position to understand how relevant my chosen specialization was. I went through various journals including a survey conducted by Softek in the year 2005 on the impact of system changes on 700 end users and I discovered that those that were conducted without proper programmers in place ended up with cost overruns usually presenting in the form of hidden costs. Aside from this, the results also found that 83 percent of the companies studied experienced recurrent problems associated with coding challenges.

System development and acquisition Gaining knowledge on information systems development and acquisition, like any other branch of learning required that a combination of various learning techniques be utilized. First, were the comprehensive class lectures that I had to attend and from which I picked up enough relevant information as pertains to the field. Secondly, I made a personal effort to access books and journals from the college and online libraries to gain an in-depth understanding of the practice.

The course was very intensive and it helped me greatly understand the importance of information systems development. The daily assignments made me take time and appreciate the importance of each activity as a guide to proper next-generation software acquisition. The program was well structured such that there was a clear beginning, a climax, and a close to the course.

The orientation phase was very instrumental in introducing the class to the core concepts of hands-on systems development. I can personally attest to the fact that the small amount of time spent on orientation gave me the incentive and desire to proceed with the course; something that may not have happened had this introductory step been overseen.

The activities carried out under the systems development life cycle helped me obtain skills that broadened my thinking patterns especially when it came to issues that require critical analysis, both in a classroom setting and within an area of information systems management. The techniques and tools used during this part of the immersion course could be for instance used when settling a basic company crisis emanating from the ineffectiveness of the available systems.

For example, if a company financial department is not getting its books ready on time, the analytical reasoning tools and strategies could be easily put to use to find out which section of the system was causing the drag and in turn come up with ways of acquiring systems to deal with the challenge. Going hand in hand with structured systems development were the approaches covered in systems analysis and design.

The latter encourages a plotted step-by-step method of acquiring relevant information for addressing certain issues of contention regarding the ineffectiveness of established systems. These strategies are very instrumental if one was to make a great systems analyst and it is only now that one can appreciate just how important the objectives of the immersion course were.

As an individual yearning to work in environments requiring intense managerial skills, one of the core items on the immersion course that stood out was the guide on information systems acquisition. The practical demonstrations on the role of the information technology specialist in the acquisition process could easily come in handy when it comes to briefing junior associates on company development or when demonstrating certain strategic approaches to corporate heads.

This part of the course provided a guide on how to effectively analyze the systems development life cycle (SDLC) and use the information garnered advice from the relevant parties on the next course of action. It was understandable that because of the brevity of the time dedicated to the course, each component had to be given a particular amount of time. However, it would be advisable if some time is set aside in the future to further help in explaining the core concepts of systems acquisition.

The course also had group-work activities which were structured at helping understand the importance of maintaining cohesiveness and teamwork within an institutional setup. From the outset, the trainers made it clear that individuals needed to understand that the strength of any Information Technology department set up lies in the team. The instructors provided great activities that required us to put together all our strengths to come up with one solid team to deal with the systems acquisition and development challenges presented. The primary element to appreciate in this instance was the fact that each person has his/her strengths and weaknesses, and that it is only within a team that an individual’s strengths can be accentuated and his/her weaknesses neutralized.

While attending a trainee seminar at xxxxxxx, I was able to categorically understand the reasons that companies have when making systems acquisitions and developments. First and foremost is the issue of merging companies that have been operating as different entities under one major organization or the coming together of various small companies to form one large company.

Consolidation could also come about as a result of one company buying into another smaller company and essentially acquiring the right to have it (the acquired company) operate under its roof. One of the commonly cited examples during the session was the decision by Microsoft to buy the software company Opalis software from Sentillon last year.

I also was able to see in a practical sense that whenever mergers and consolidations occur, the major problem that faces most of such companies is the issue of how to easily and quickly integrate the communication systems of the two organizations in such a way that a harmonious system is developed.

As far as the systems development life cycle (SDLC) is concerned, this is where the aspect of the timing comes in. For many institutions that use mainframe systems, transactions are constantly happening and there is no way that the systems can be shut down to accommodate the restructuring process once a merger has taken place. This aspect then makes the acquisition and installation of new systems a huge liability as far as upgrading of the systems is concerned.

While going through the systems development and acquisition reports of several companies, I have been able to establish that the element of effectiveness is one of the most commonly raised reasons reason for constant systems development and acquisition. Information technology is one of the rapidly evolving developments of this century. The features that made a computer sell two years ago are considered irrelevant today especially as far as the selling of the same is concerned.

As newer and newer advancements are being made in the field, the older systems are abandoned as rapidly and the number of professionals who are conversant with these older versions of technology is dwindling. The few that are available are generally inclined towards overcharging for these services and this is only understandable based on the rules of demand and supply.

When it comes to maintenance, the person who originally designed the system is generally required to be around to offer guidance in the restructuring whenever the need arises. In his or her absence, the original documentation such as the plan of the system can be used. Unfortunately, due to some reason or other, the designer may not be with the company when the restructuring takes place, and sometimes the original plans cannot be traced. In my experience, I have discovered that hiring individuals to analyze the system and effectively come up with a new plan to take care of factors in restructuring demands a huge amount of money with figures bordering on obscenity.

While witnessing the regime shift at xxxxxx, I discovered that like most other computer dependent systems, mainframe software is usually under constant attack by bugs and other viruses. These bugs end up destroying the software and sometimes end up crashing the hardware as well. Requests for the replacement of software is usually accompanied by the need for a huge some of money. This is because software is developed daily either as upgrades or as alternatives to the original software.

Change Management Where change management is concerned, I had to gain knowledge through attending lectures, workshops, and practical sessions. I also made the extra effort to ensure that I was abreast with news of developments in the sector. The most important and widely covered element of change management training was the management of Storage Area Networks (SANs). In this particular section, I was able to identify the importance of companies using various available technologies in implementing change within their technological structures. Through class lectures and various notes on the topic, I found out that one of the major inceptive steps when making important changes particularly in data and information storage systems was being in a position to predict the impact of the changes in the proper functioning of the entire system.

Studying change management about practical issues such as communication and system networking has been one of my major academic achievements. Studies at the university have helped me develop a clear coherence of the various available change management options and their usage in real-life contexts. Because a program in change management covers all aspects of systems maintenance, including diagnostics and repair, I have been me an advanced understanding of how information technology and proper communication work together. Furthermore, taking a program in change management has given me a critical awareness of the theoretical issues underlying networks and information management systems, and has served to inculcate analytical and managerial skills in me.

The importance of regular monitoring of the systems after changes have been made was also effectively underscored as a means of ensuring that the security of the systems is not compromised.

An analysis of the industry through the reading of various peer-reviewed journals also put me in the know as regards various advancements in the process of change management. In this regard, I learned that various software has been developed to make Information Technology change management even easier. These types of software, as I was able to discover can easily distinguish and repair errors within a very short period as well as monitor the implementation of changes within the existing systems. I also learned that proper change management strategies help the system’s operators attain more control over networks and databases. Throughout this unit, we attended various instructor-led practical sessions to understand the basics of change management in real-life settings.

An introduction to SAN change management was made and we were able to use the available SAN software to identify and analyze system errors and weaknesses. Once the malfunctions were identified, we made the necessary repairs and then continued to use the SAN change management software to continuously monitor and validate the effectiveness of the system through periods of change and system migrations.

The importance of SAN change management was well manifested in the way it automated systems such that the operations ran automatically day and night. This was a welcome advantage because as an aspiring Information Technology specialist, I desire that I can properly utilize the available technology to make my work easier especially by allowing me to rest at night and over weekends by capitalizing on the benefits of automation.

The skills I have acquired by volunteering and interning with various companies over time have proved to be useful whichever way my career path goes. This is the kind of experience that has helped me nurture both my IT application and communication skills particularly in the information technology sector and I am looking forward to using my different experiences in the academic world appropriately to help raise a good platform on which to launch a consultation career in the future.

The training program in the college has appealed to my team-oriented desires (elements which are critical in computer technology) both in terms of its flexibility and its collaborative nature. This educational accreditation and the knowledge garnered in the due course of the training will give me even more expertise that will come in handy in shifting upwards the direction of both my personal and professional growth curve.

For a company to remain competitively relevant, it must ensure that its systems are constantly upgraded to take the strain that is occasioned by the change in time. By far, mainframe systems have been the most stable of all technological systems particularly in the field of information technology. However, they as well can last for so long. Business enterprises have had to conform to the changes in technology and as such have been forced to get rid of the mainframes which though expensive to maintain, have served them well for several years. This is the reason why we as computer engineering professionals had to go through extensive training in change management.

The major advantage of mainframe migration and which has served to attract the attention of most businesses is the reduction in operating costs in the long run. For instance, when the Shared Data Center sought out to implement their two-year migration from mainframe to open source starting 2006, they had foreseen a 30-70% reduction in operation costs. The problems with migrating off of mainframes to open source systems presented in the prohibitive costs involved in the transfer alongside the issue of maintaining data integrity during the shift.

The switch from mainframe (Legacy) to open source systems such as Oracle was not something that could be achieved by the click of a button. This was an extensive process calling for the collaboration of various professionals with change management expertise over extended periods. In larger enterprises, it may take up to fifteen years to complete the switch. This would require the enterprise to recruit full-time staff to work on the system during all this time. However, the Shared Data Center was slightly smaller and this is the reason why it took quite a short amount of time to implement the change. Even when the switch had been done, it required that the mainframe be kept partially on, in case some cross-reference had to be done.

From an analytical perspective of the Shared Data Center, I was able to confirm that the maintenance of data integrity is by far the most challenging of all the issues that come with migration. This is because of the issue of software compatibility.

As a consequence, the migration will need very many technicians to analyze the system track by track and ensure that the transferred data is in perfect condition. A survey conducted by Softek in the year 2005 on the impact of migration on 700 end users revealed that cost overruns usually presented in the form of hidden costs weighed in heavily on the enterprises. Aside from this, the results also found that 83 percent of the companies studied experienced some problems with migration.

Since mainframe systems are usually in operation for decades, changes especially in the technical aspects cannot just be made without any prior planning. These changes affect the individuals who work in the institution. As a result, the migration strategy for this particular company had to factor in the adjustments which employees and other individuals who interact with the system had to be made.

This is where the synchronization of both the mainframe and new system came into place as it provided for the adaptation of the individuals to the system. In addition, proper staff training and provision of information regarding the operation of the new systems had to be emphasized.

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