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NIU alum making a difference in Silicon Valley

November 20, 2017

With the implementation of two patents to improve the computer industry, Hemanth Rama (M.S., 2005) is part of his company’s driving force in Silicon Valley.

Rama and his team of inventors at BMC Software Inc. in Santa Clara, CA, have demonstrated why the mainframe computer is still a critical technology in the business world and have used the patents to reduce the expense of running mainframes.

Hemanth Rama (right)

Most of the world’s largest corporations use mainframes in their daily operations, according to IBM, which builds the mainframes. In banking, finance, healthcare, insurance, utilities, government and other private and public enterprises, the mainframe is the foundation of modern business.

“More than 70 percent of global Fortune 500 companies use the mainframe to run their core business application,” said Rama, a senior product developer with BMC since graduating from Northern. “Innovation here will have a huge impact on the industry and economy. Being able to make a difference in a big way is what I like about being a mainframe developer.”

The biggest expense of mainframe ownership is the monthly licensing charge (MLC) for the software that runs on mainframes, he said. A company’s MLC is based on the peak hourly usage of the month. Using the patents to develop their product, called Intelligent Capping, Rama and his coworkers were able to reduce the peak usage for their clients in the last couple of years and have cut the MLC by as much as 20 percent.

“We cracked one of the biggest challenges that the mainframe industry is facing today – the high cost of ownership,” Rama said.

NIU was the foundation for his success, he said, because of the outstanding professors and computer science curriculum.

“I can’t overestimate the lasting impression I had from the teachings of some of the brilliant professors at NIU,” Rama said.

He recalled enjoying the mainframe coursework, which allowed him to be part of developing a student operating system simulator to demonstrate the internal architectural concepts of Multiple Virtual Storage, an operating system for mainframes.

When it comes to making a difference in the computer industry, Rama is far from finished. Getting a single patent is a rarity, yet he has another patent pending to prevent certain workloads from running during peak hours on mainframes so companies can save even more.