Building Connections at SHARE Fort Worth

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More than 1,300 attendees registered and headed to Cowtown for SHARE Fort Worth (Feb. 23-28). Attendees heard the latest scoop on IBM z15 and a variety of other hot topics in enterprise IT. Discussion lounges for topics like “Geek Speak: Millennial Style” and CICS drew crowds. The keynote from Kris Paronto, former Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, was engaging and inspirational. Throughout the week, the event offered up some fun with a trivia competition about embracing “open” on the mainframe and — as always — networking.

“Geek Speak: Millennial Style” focused on discussing the differences in computer science terminology between those new to the mainframe and those who have been on the job longer. For instance, workers new to the mainframe environment may think “virtual” refers to VMware, while more seasoned employees may think it refers to z/VM. Participants used the discussions to agree on a common vocabulary that could foster better communication between the different generations in computer science, facilitate faster learning, and build a more collaborative workplace.

Ezriel Gross, Rocket Software principal solutions advisor and recently named SHARE “Best of the Best” session winner, led the CICS Discussion Lounge. He said it was a refreshing experience to spend one-on-one time with customers. One customer asked questions about upgrading releases of CICS and about the CICS ecosystem as a whole, and Gross said the customer received practical answers he could use at the office. Gross enjoyed the discussion, and the customer was happy to receive additional information about user groups and different forums he could join, as well as additional contacts at IBM if he had further questions.

A Passionate Keynote on Team Strength

“Kris Paronto gave an excellent keynote. He was able to weave messages and advice about teamwork, cooperation, and leadership into his vivid story about his time serving as a military contractor in Benghazi,” said Scott Fagen, SHARE director of industry influence. “Important messages that stuck out for me included using humor to take the edge off of a difficult situation, appreciating your colleagues for who they are and who they are not, and accepting that you’re not going to necessarily like everyone that you’re working with, but success requires that you find a way to work together effectively.”

Ray Mullins, SHARE LE & Languages project manager, agreed, “I was unsure what Kris Paronto’s talk would be like, but it was entertaining and full of excellent advice that applies beyond physical security.” Mark Wilson, technical director at RSM Partners, added, “The keynote was probably the best keynote I’ve ever seen. True life bravery from a very open and honest man.”

Standout Sessions

Diane Norris, senior principal software architect at Broadcom, was pleased with the Women in IT track, noting, “We need visibility into ‘women doing IT.’” She was particularly happy that she attended “Women in IT: The Technical and Business Vision of Women Creating the Mainframe Industry of Tomorrow,” which she called a standout session. The panel of technical and industry leaders and newcomers shared their experiences, strategies, and visions for the mainframe. Norris added that it took a “remarkable approach to highlighting women doing IT, rather than just talking about women in IT. This panel provided real-life role models of women succeeding in and shaping IT.”

Aruna Chandrasekhar, director and mainframe architect at Optum, added, “It was amazing to meet women with strong technical skills in leadership roles, proving that conferences like SHARE can make great strides in bridging the gender and technical gap found in the industry.”

Mullins said, “One of the best sessions (and most heavily attended) in my project was Dan Kelosky’s ‘Understanding the Zowe Technology Stack from a z/OS Assembler Developer Perspective .’ For the first time, many classically trained software developers, including myself, were able to understand how the pieces of Zowe fit in with the z/OS ecosystem.” He added, “I highly recommend that everyone take a look at the presentation, including non-assembler programmers, as the concepts translate to third-generation languages as well.” Conference materials are typically made available on the SHARE website in the weeks following the event.

The latest enhancements to Broadcom’s ACF2 and Top Secret products, which Reg Harbeck, chief strategist at Mainframe Analytics Ltd., said were eye-opening. “The one [enhancement] of greatest interest to me,” he said, “was that both products now support multifactor authentication without special customization, which is important as more and more mainframe shops are making it a policy to remove local customizations from such products.” Both enable multifactor authentication without using the installation exit, which is something Harbeck plans to share when teaching security courses.

Network and Reconnect

Fagen was glad to facilitate connections among three new mainframers from Atos in Irving, Texas, with long time SHARE event attendees Marty Hasegawa of Rocket, Russ Witt of Broadcom, and Steve Branch of IBM, each of whom worked in the same fields as the new mainframers. “A big thanks to them for ‘SHARE-ing ’ their decades of wisdom with the newcomers,” he said.

Harbeck rejoiced in meeting new connections and reconnecting with established ones, while Mullins always relishes the interactions with fellow mainframers on the expo floor and elsewhere. Mullins added that because Software AG  had a booth at SHARE Fort Worth for the first time in decades, he was able to “catch up briefly with a former co-worker there, whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years.” Wilson echoed Mullins’ comments, noting, “It was a great opportunity to meet with all of the IBM team and ISVs, and get caught up on what’s going on.”

“SHARE and networking pair beautifully,” Norris said. “The event is a unique opportunity to meet mainframe peers in an educational and welcoming environment. The sessions, receptions, and lunches are ideal settings for informal conversations between engineers, vendors, clients, and strategists.” She added, “SHARE is also an excellent venue for face-to-face networking between coworkers from geographically distant offices. It is a top-notch event fostering collaboration through SHARE'd education and experiences.”

SHARE’s Door Is Always Open

SHARE Fort Worth offered a wide variety of the technical sessions mainframe professionals expect, and many walked away with new connections. Others reconnected with colleagues they haven't seen in many years. We’ve closed the door on SHARE Fort Worth, but the doors on collaboration and connecting remain wide open.


Although SHARE Fort Worth has come to an end, we’re already gearing up for SHARE Boston, August 2-7. Browse registration options, submit a presentation proposal, and more. We’ll see you there!

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