Getting to Know Your z/OS Bug Busterz Instructor: John Shebey

The agenda at SHARE Atlanta is stacked with exciting technical sessions, keynotes and programs, but everything kicks off Sunday, July 31 with our full-day SHARE Academy sessions. Always popular, this year’s Academy session includes a track dedicated to problem solving for IBM z/OS (MVS).

We talked to instructor John Shebey, a Senior Software Engineer and leader of IBM’s z/OS UNIX Level 2 support team, to preview the full-day debut of the z/OS Bug Busterz track.

What’s new about this SHARE Academy track, and what can attendees expect?

To start, the entire program is new. A number of people over the years have hosted individual SHARE debug sessions, but this is the first year that they've specifically asked for an entire Academy track.

There has always been demand for knowledge around z/OS problem solving both within SHARE and externally. At SHARE, we want to give customers certain skills so that when they have a problem, they can identify the source. Is the problem in their code? Is it in the vendor’s code? IBM’s code? What’s the next step from there, and how can they expedite a solution? We’re giving them a head start, but the overall value or applicability of this course could be widespread.

What customer problems will you cover, and would you say z/OS problems have become more complex as technology becomes more sophisticated?

The problems that we’re covering are the ones that have traditionally always been covered, like ABENDs and loops and hangs. But in general, yes, problems have gotten much more complex. You have problems now that span multiple systems, or situations where one system can affect another. And as you run faster hardware, you have more timing problems and timing windows become exposed. Yes, the systems have become harder to debug, but the fundamental skills you need to solve these problems are the same.

When did you first get involved with SHARE, and have you enjoyed the teaching experience?

From 2005 to 2009 I was going to SHARE presenting general debug for MVS and z/OS UNIX. Just last year, I resumed presenting again, and I also became the z/OS service rep for SHARE at that time.

I’ve always liked solving problems. In fact, I was considering a career in education at one point, and then IBM came along and offered me a job in Level 2. I guess at the time, they specifically sought math majors because of their problem solving skills, and I was a math major, computer science minor at Virginia Tech. The role was a good match - in my spare time, I really enjoy solving puzzles and logic problems and playing Chess.

I’m also passionate about teaching outside of SHARE. I’m part of an IBM team that hosts a week-long z/OS diagnostic course, and I really enjoy that.

Finally, are there any lessons you hope attendees take away from your session?

They might not walk away immediately able to solve a z/OS problem, but we hope they can use the techniques we teach them to identify where the problem is in the code. At least they’ll be able to do some preliminary analysis and have that extra head start to get it to the right component or team.

In our line of work, it always makes it easier to work with a customer who has some of that upfront knowledge of a problem, which can help expedite problem resolution. So we’re hoping to develop that knowledge for attendees of this track. Of course, we also want to encourage questions and give folks an opportunity to receive the help they need.

For expert training in z/OS problem solving from John Shebey and IBM instructors, click here to register for SHARE Academy. The z/OS Bug Busterz track runs from 8 am to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 31 as part of SHARE Atlanta.

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