After being a SHARE member for 14 years, I decided it was time to start volunteering and giving back to our fine community. So last year, when Cheryl Watson called for someone to replace her as the requirements officer for the MVS Core Technologies Project (MVSE), I grabbed the opportunity with both hands!
The SHARE requirements system is a web-based platform which lets those with an active share.org account (whether a corporate member or associate member) suggest enhancements to IBM’s products and services. IBM has their own Request for Enhancements (RFE) system, which any IBM customer or partner can use to raise requests for product improvements. The SHARE requirements system feeds into the IBM system automatically (more about the process to follow).
RFEs submitted via the SHARE request system have the following advantages:
- IBM takes into account that SHARE requirements represent the interests of a large set of customers.
- Requests are discussed by peers in SHARE and IBM reps before submission to IBM.
- Anyone with a SHARE membership (corporate or associate) can comment on and add to or enhance the original request.
- The voting system (described in detail below) provides IBM with valuable information on the importance of the request to the relevant mainframe community.
The SHARE requirements system is subdivided into the following topics: CICS, Communications Server, Db2, IMS, ISPF, JESx, Languages, Linux, MVSE, MVS Storage, Network Management, Security, and z/VM. Each topic is covered by a requirements officer. Some officers cover several topics; for example, I cover ISPF in addition to MSVE. Decision-making within an area is handled by the requirements officer and a small team, which usually includes one or more IBM reps.
MVSE requirements covers all core z/OS topics plus the MVS Performance (MVSP) project. It is the largest group in the requirements system. Over the last few years, we have sent dozens of RFEs to IBM. Some have been delivered and others are on their way. Each SHARE conference has a session (in conjunction with the MVSS project) in which IBM responds to our requests and explains which RFEs were accepted and when we can expect them. Rejections are explained, too. At the time of writing this article, MVSE requirements has exactly 200 subscribers. These break down as follows:
- 42 IBMers who cannot suggest requirements or vote
- 22 members from 14 ISVs (Independent Software Vendors; ISVs are prime contributors to requirements)
- 136 members from 107 customer companies
Yet SHARE has over 900 companies represented in its membership. So where is everybody? I am certain that other groups are similar in their representation. The SHARE logo calls for three actions: Educate, Network, Influence. The way I see it, SHARE membership is a responsibility. Part of that responsibility is to influence technology providers to deliver enterprise class software, hardware, and services with the features that we need.
The Process – Or How You Can Get Involved
To suggest an enhancement, SHARE members should subscribe to the relevant group, as listed on the SHARE Advocacy page. You can subscribe to multiple topics, and be informed by email on the posting of a new topic or a change in a topic’s status.
Anyone with a SHARE membership (corporate or associate) can suggest an enhancement to any IBM product or service. Each requirements group will discuss any new requirement and will decide if it should be added to the SHARE requirements system. If it is added, it is opened for discussion. Using the online system, subscribers can add comments, ideas, and enhancements regarding the requirement.
Once the discussion is over (typically after a month) the requirement will be put up for vote, and after several weeks more, the team will decide if the requirement should be submitted to RFE depending on the interest it has generated. A requirement might be declined because it is deemed not to be a defect or for other reasons that preclude it for enhancement.
At that time, IBM reviews the comments and voting and responds to the request. There are several possible responses from IBM, which are listed online here.
The most common responses are: delivered, declined, planned for future release, and uncommitted candidate (which means the request might be introduced sometime in the future).
At the moment, only IBM is connected to requirements. I have heard from several SHARE members that they would like ISVs to be added. I personally think that this is an excellent idea for all.
I urge the SHARE community to take advantage of this easily accessible opportunity to make your voices heard and help influence the industry. Subscribe to requirements today!
Learn more about the requirements process, as portrayed in the infographic below.