By Cheryl Watson
Almost everyone who has attended or downloaded a SHARE presentation on "What's New in z/OS Vx.Rx" has seen some small boxes called “Top xx” (i.e., the figure below is from John Eells' session 17438 at the 2015 SHARE in Orlando event).
Have you ever wondered what they are? Even if you know, have you wondered what happened to SHARE requirements? Have you taken the time to submit a Request for Enhancement (RFE) to IBM only to see it rejected? If so, this article is for you.
What Is a SHARE Requirement?
The mission statement of SHARE is as follows: "SHARE is an independent volunteer-run information technology association that provides education, professional networking and industry influence."
One of the major ways we can provide industry influence is through the SHARE requirements system. A SHARE requirement is a statement that describes a business need that is not currently met or a need that is being met but in a way that can be improved. A requirement can relate to a product, service, policy or strategy of IBM — or another participating vendor — and must include a business justification. Through a formal process, the requirement is submitted by SHARE to the vendor and a formal response returned.
SHARE requirements provide IBM and other participating vendors with technical input on the required improvements to existing products or services and on directions for future products or services. The requirements — as well as the project discussions involved in submitting them — are among the most important work products of SHARE. Through them, member installations contribute knowledge and expertise to help vendors meet our current and future information technology needs. Because requirements represent SHARE business positions, they must adhere to a high level of quality and timeliness and must be truly representative of the beliefs held by SHARE member installations.
How to Submit a SHARE Requirement
To start the SHARE requirements process, an individual must first draft a requirement using the SHARE requirements system. The requirement is submitted to a SHARE project for validation, prioritization and submission. Because the requirement must represent the views of SHARE rather than the original author, it may be edited or changed by the project. The specifics of the next steps vary slightly among SHARE projects, but in general, the requirement is first reviewed by the project requirements coordinator (who is listed in the SHARE Volunteer Roster), discussed at a SHARE session or on a discussion forum and voted on using the SHARE requirements system.
Once voting is complete, the requirement is sent to the vendor. Currently, only the IBM RFE system is supported, although SHARE is inviting other vendors to participate. A unique requirement number is assigned, which can be used to track the requirement's status at a later SHARE meeting.
You might ask what the difference is between a user-submitted RFE and a SHARE-submitted RFE. Essentially, the IBM developers tend to assign more weight and importance to SHARE-submitted RFEs because they represent a larger number of customers who want the requirement satisfied. SHARE encourages all members to lend their expertise in the drafting and submission of requirements.
Now that I’ve described what a requirement is, let's get back to the “Top xx” lists mentioned at the beginning of this article. The MVS requirements team had more than 400 outstanding requirements in 2012, and we started ranking them for IBM's use. We first created a Top 39 list and two years later created a Top 50 list. The IBM developers used our ranking to help decide which line items to include in each new release. With z/OS V2, IBM delivered 30 percent of the Top 50 list and 40 percent of the next 25 items. I think this shows how effective SHARE requirements can be. Of course, none of this is possible without the contributions of SHARE members who review, discuss and vote on the requirements.
How can you participate in this process? As many people have noticed, the current SHARE requirements system has been on hold for two years for most projects and even longer for other projects. That is about to change. The SHARE Board of Directors has approved the creation of a new system under Web platform Socious, and the SHARE staff and volunteers have been testing the new system that is expected to rollout this Spring.
If you have previously signed up for a requirements project, your ID will be moved over to the new system, and you'll be notified when the requirements system becomes available. If you've never signed up before, keep an eye on your inbox for a notification when the new system is ready. You can sign on to the new system by clicking on the "About" tab on the SHARE homepage and selecting "Advocacy and Requirements." We welcome all projects to join this new SHARE process. Please contact me at email@example.com for any questions.
Cheryl Watson is currently the support manager for SHARE requirements and a project officer of the MVSE project. She has been a SHARE volunteer for over 35 years and enjoys each SHARE event more than the last. Watson been sharing her knowledge of IBM mainframe performance analysis and capacity planning since 1965. She is the president of Watson & Walker, Inc. and has written and published Cheryl Watson's Tuning Letter and CPU Charts since 1991.