I remember attending my very first SHARE meeting back in the early 1970s when I was working at Columbia University. There, I had the chance to strike up a conversation with Dr. Robert P. Rannie, then with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Naturally we talked code, bits and bytes (still the common language for many of us reading this message) and it ended up being a very valuable interaction for me. You see, it turned out that what we were discussing was the perfect solution to an issue I was facing at the time with one of my own systems. So I took back the idea and when I got back to Columbia, created what turned out to be identical code that proved my theory and fixed my issue. And there you have it—‘collaboration’ (even before the days of email) at its finest.
These days, I’m thankful that the tools of collaboration have improved. I’m equally thankful that the value of one-on-one interactions hasn’t changed. For all the talk about how much the industry has changed, and that our roles have evolved and the tools we use continue to transform, the one thing that remains irreplaceable throughout the years is the ability to sit down one-on-one with a colleague or peer and work out a solution to a problem.
In fact, as I look back throughout all my years being involved with SHARE I can point to numerous occasions when working side-by-side with peers resulted in very positive outcomes. I initiated a ‘Birds of a Feather’ session in the late 1970s to address source code maintenance issues in SMP with JES3, something that IBM had not yet figured out. That session was heavily attended and led me to take my first volunteer position in SHARE, as a committee chair. Later on, I was invited to become a member of a task force that focused on improving software service and maintenance. Our basic conclusion was that improving software quality would obviate the need to fix it, but that much was also needed to address issues when fixes were in fact needed. IBM participated in the task force and ended up incorporating some of our suggested changes.
As we talk about the history of mainframe and all the ways in which it has evolved throughout the years, education, networking and industry support remain the foundation of this industry. They are, in fact, the three pillars of SHARE:
Educate: Subject-matter experts, developers, and practitioners are on hand at SHARE events to present and discuss new features and issues facing our enterprise IT professionals today.
Network: At SHARE events, you will experience a wide variety of formal and informal valuable networking opportunities, with your peers and with subject-matter experts and developers who you might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet.
Influence: SHARE offers the opportunity to directly influence the direction of the industry and our partners, through formal requirements, informal interactions, and meetings with developers and executives.
As we look ahead to the future of the mainframe and influencing a younger generation, these ideas still hold true. Some might argue that the idea of one-on-one interactions goes against the way in which the younger generation operates. But to that, I can simply say that what got us to where we are today will help carry us forward.