Reflections of COMMON Europe 2018

Warsaw, Poland – June 2018

I’m off!

Leaving from JFK in New York and I’m full of optimism.  I know it’s going to be a long set of flights, with a three-hour layover in Amsterdam.   But I challenge myself to keep smiling, knowing that I will be seeing my good friends once I’ve arrived.

Mid-flight checkup

It’s always a strange concept to me of crossing six-time zones in such a short amount of time.  Trying to fall asleep when it is only 8 PM in your brain is difficult.   As a result, you keep waking up.   Obviously, your wear eye shades to simulate night.At one point I woke up and took a photo, just to see how ridiculous I looked and to prove to myself I could keep smiling.


Journeying on

Seven hours later we are in Amsterdam.   It was already 6 AM when I arrived, and very cloudy outside.   Another flight later I finally arrived in Warsaw.

Warsaw’s Old Town

Warsaw has an interesting history, with its citizens having to rebuild their entire city after World War II.  But rebuild they did, and what was created is nothing short of spectacular.  A true testament to the human spirit.

Old Town was easily walk-able from our hotel.  Some of my little tour included an outdoor park with gorgeous statues, a tomb of the unknown soldier, churches and of course unlimited European architecture.   You can learn more about Old Town’s history here.


The European Congress

Like other years, this conference included some of the most respected industry speakers with a very wide breadth of IBM i topics.   It was two and a half days long with over fifty high quality sessions.  Topics included application development, testing, database, IBM i future directions and system administration.    This organization is run entirely by very committed volunteers from all over Europe, and it shows.  If anything had gone awry it wasn’t obvious.   The common message was clear – this is a high-quality event that is worth attending, year after year.   To learn more about the COMMON European Congress click here.


Opening and closing events

Ranga Deshpande, the President of COMMON Europe offered the conference kickoff, followed by IBMers Alison Butterill, Ian Jarmin and Steve Will.   Their presentations focused on the vitality of the platform and how well it remains positioned to be the best application system for all different sized businesses.    Steve Will made an excellent point during his discussion –  very few technology companies provide the level of immediate access to their top executives that IBM does, fostering engaging business conversations.  Discussions where the executives are truly listening to the people who are in the trenches every day, using the technology to make their organizations prosper.  Alison, Ian and Steve shared customer stories from all over the globe.  To be sure, this was an exciting and fascinating opening session.

The closing event included a celebration to 30 years of innovation, from the birth of the AS/400 to today’s completely modern IBM i.  No closing celebration is complete without a celebratory cake, and IBM didn’t disappoint us.

Celebration dinner

On Tuesday evening we were treated to a wonderful celebration event at Warsaw’s Palace of Culture.  This building included an observation deck and a massive indoor marbled area.   It was a fun night and I was very happy to be there.   You can learn more about the Palace of Culture by clicking here.

COMMON European Congress 2019

The COMMON European Congress rotates its location each year and this year is no exception.   It was announced that next year’s Congress will be in Berlin, Germany.   This is being done in partnership with COMMON Germany.

Saving the best for last

Yes, the sights were beautiful, and the food was delicious.  But nothing compares to the friendly conversations with friends, old and new. Be it conference attendees,  flight attendants, taxi drivers or hotel staff, meeting and chatting with people is the best.   It takes so little effort to strike up a conversation and there is ALWAYS something we have in common (no pun intended), even though we are separated by thousands of miles.












Published by Charles Guarino

Charles Guarino believes in the “power” of IBM Power Systems. His career reflects his interest in bringing the platform and its solutions to others. Charles started his professional journey as a department of one. Today, he is serving individuals on a worldwide basis though his consulting work and award-winning speaking engagements. Charles is a true people person and can often be found at conferences sharing his expertise in RDi and other IBM i topics. Reach out to Charles through his company, Central Park Data Systems, at He looks forward to hearing from you.