The Value of SHARE: A Testimonial from Hemanth Rama

Hemanth Rama is a young mainframe engineer who has attended SHARE conferences since 2008. Rama holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Ill., and many of his professors, including Michael Stack and Robert Rannie, are active SHARE Members. It was through these professors that he first learned of SHARE. Rama is an active Member and project officer for SHARE zNextGen project, as well as the MVS performance project under MVS program. Earlier this year he was named a 2018 IBM Z Champion for his contributions to mainframe technology.

In this article, Rama shares the value he finds in being part of the organization and what he has gained from SHARE conferences over the last several years.

The strong foundation I had at NIU, coupled with continuous cutting-edge mainframe technology education at SHARE conferences, has helped me thrive in the mainframe industry. I believe that SHARE conferences are where you find the industry’s best minds under one roof.

The first SHARE conference I attended was in 2008. The number of sessions available at the conference — all equally compelling and informative — was simply overwhelming. I relied heavily on my co-workers to help me navigate the conference and choose the right sessions. My subsequent attendance at SHARE conferences were fantastic, as I began to gain a better understanding of how the conferences are organized. At the top level, there are programs, and under each program are projects. Each SHARE program addresses key topics facing today's IT professionals. Projects offer a deeper dive into the technology and presented by experts of that subject matter. There are so many programs and projects that suit the unique IT needs of our profession.

Over the last few years at SHARE, my favorite presenter has been Glenn Anderson. I look out for his sessions whenever I attend the conference. Glenn’s sessions remind me of my time at NIU, as he speaks passionately and simplifies many complex topics with ease, much like my professors.

If you’ve never had a chance to attend SHARE, there are so many unique opportunities waiting for you. A few of my favorite sessions and events include the Cheryl and Frank zRoadshow, where the two share  interesting events in the z world that have happened since the last SHARE conference. It provides nuggets of invaluable information from many of the current SHARE sessions. Program and project dinners are a great chance to socialize and talk offline about various mainframe topics, ranging from mainframe history to career advice. For a hands-on experience, I have found lab sessions to be invaluable, and a great chance to learn in real-time under the guidance of experts. Plus, you get a certificate of completion. The Technology Expo is another perk of attending SHARE. This is where the best mainframe vendors showcase their contributions to the industry. It’s an opportunity to discover new tools and software, meet the people creating this software and engage them with questions.

If you’re considering attending SHARE St. Louis, or in the future, here are a few of tips to make sure you get the most value out of attending:

  • Get the SHARE app on your phone to help you plan and navigate sessions. With the app, you can also write brief notes about the sessions, evaluate sessions, get maps, local info and more.
  • Take the opportunity to connect and socialize, especially at the SHARE open house, project openings, expo booths and more.
  • Volunteering is the best way to reap the full benefits of a SHARE conference. You get to know lot of people and see how events, projects and sessions are planned. It will give you a whole new outlook on the mainframe community.
  • If you are new to SHARE, I encourage you to attend the first time attendee SHARE session. You will get valuable guidance from fellow Members.
  • If you are new to mainframes, you should reach out to SHARE zNextGen project. It is free to join and a community where experts help newbie mainframers with introductory sessions — not just while at SHARE, but through monthly webinars, as well.
  • Lunch and Learn sessions are usually vendor-led sessions, but often offer excellent insight into their products and value proposition.

Outside of attending SHARE conferences, I also volunteer as project officer for SHARE zNextGen project under the Enterprise-wide program, and MVS performance project under MVS program. I have presented many sessions at SHARE under these projects. I really enjoy doing this and feel blessed to give back to the SHARE community. I have worked at BMC software since 2005 and currently work as an application developer.

I attribute my success in the field to two things – NIU for laying a solid foundation and SHARE for continuous education. If you are looking to grow your own career or simply network with some of the best minds in the industry, I encourage you to join us at a SHARE event!  

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