Takeaways from SHARE Phoenix: Education, Inspiration Fueled Attendee Experience

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The SHARE Phoenix event, March 11-15, 2019, is in the books with more than 250 first-time attendees, a marked increase in overall attendance from the last several events, and 30 new-to-SHARE companies represented. Nearly 1,400 enterprise IT professionals gathered for technical education and networking opportunities in Phoenix.

A highlight was the March 11 keynote from Captain Mark Kelly, NASA space mission commander. “Captain Mark Kelly’s presentation, ‘Endeavor to Succeed,’ was exceptional,” said Reg Harbeck, SHARE Enterprise-Wide program officer. His engaging and inspiring keynote explored how focus, dedication, and persistence can help anyone tap into their potential to succeed in any competitive setting. Touching on his extraordinary career of service to the United States military, as well as commanding several Space Shuttle missions, Kelly’s expertise on leadership resonated with the room.

“As a child of the late 1960s and early 1970s, seeing an honest-to-god astronaut in the flesh was awesome,” said Ray Mullins, SHARE project manager – AADI/LE and Programming Languages (AADI/Lang). “Captain Kelly’s keynote surprised me; he spent a lot of time talking about his wife, Gabby Giffords, former U.S. Representative, and you can see the love he has for her as he speaks about her recovery, and the trials and tribulations they have encountered after her traumatic injury.”

Scott Fagen, SHARE director of industry influence, added, “Commander Mark Kelly brought a wry humor and some very cogent stories that come down to: ‘Focus and persistence are the keys to success.’ Kelly recounted a number of personal anecdotes where he learned this lesson and that it’s critical to understand that you can’t be your best without continued practice and training on whatever it is you endeavor to do.”

The March 12 keynote brought together enterprise IT leaders in a unique "speed dating" experience. Greg Lotko of Broadcom, Jerry Edgington of Western and Southern Financial Group, Rosalind Radcliffe of IBM, Jeff Reser of SUSE, and Ishmael Thomas of the College of Computer & Information Sciences discussed the effects of a more open mainframe from the perspectives of DevOps, AI, analytics, open UX frameworks, and security. They talked about opportunities, challenges, considerations, and experiences to inform attendees' participation in this open mainframe community.

With more than 500 technical education sessions, SHARE Phoenix included sessions on open source and Zowe, IBM Z®, the security of mainframes, enhancements and updates for various components, and more. An exciting track unveiled at the event was Women in IT, which aims to support current members and create new opportunities to welcome more women to SHARE. Mullins called the Women in IT program an “excellent new direction for SHARE,” noting he hopes to see it expand in Pittsburgh. Attendees heard from IBM software engineers Luisa Martinez and Megan Hampton during the “Women in IT: Shattering the Glass Ceiling” session, and learned about the experiences of women from different segments of the IT ecosystem and of varying tenures during the “Women in IT Panel: Real World Experiences.”

Hemanth Rama, project officer for the SHARE MVS Performance Project and project manager for the SHARE zNextGen program, noted some of his favorite technical sessions were related to the latest z/OS® release that includes the last release of JES3, the new health checker, and the SMF reporting and debugging sessions by John Shebey and Patty Little under the zNextGen track. During the Watson & Walker zRoadShow, he learned some “cool tips on extracting just the SMF data needed.”

Joe Gentile, SHARE editorial committee volunteer, highlighted the sessions “WSC Hot Topics” and “How to Get the Most from Z System Design: A Real User Experience.” He noted that “performance and capacity is driven more by memory and CPU cache latency (and locality of reference) than ever before. Turn on SMF 113! This stuff is baked into LSPR.” Gentile also cited several z/OS sessions, such as “Using CICS Async API to Achieve High Volume Transactions”, which showcased what kinds of interesting things could be built with mainframe capability and how the mainframe can compete with distributed for hosting cloud services, “Technologies such as Parallel Sysplex, Sysplex Distributor, and WLM make z/OS a powerful cloud platform.”

Harbeck, Rama, and others were pleased to see a greater number of younger attendees. The latest event offered experienced and new mainframe professionals a peek at IBM’s new small-footprint mainframe, more in-depth looks at the open-source Zowe project, information on IBM z/OS Container Extensions (zCX), insight into how a Linux container can be run in a z/OS space without heavy reconfiguration, and more.

One area that shows opportunity for improvement, Fagen noted, is maintaining the level of engagement and knowledge-sharing that events so often bring. “It continues to be difficult to be able to get away for a week on company time and the need to acquire mainframe knowledge continues after the conference is over,” Fagen explained. “As Director of Industry Influence, I'd love to hear suggestions from members on how SHARE can be a more effective partner on a day-to-day basis,” he said. Fagen welcomes suggestions via email at sfagen@share.org.

Whether looking to connect with SHARE members they had previously interacted with virtually, meet with colleagues on mainframe technologies and tools, or simply to learn about new software and hardware, overall SHARE Phoenix attendees said their expectations were often surpassed.

Registration for SHARE Pittsburgh (August 4-9, 2019) is now open. Interested in getting more involved with SHARE? Check out our volunteer opportunities here.

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