Message from SHARE: SHARE Explores the World of DevOps

By Martha McConaghy, SHARE Director, Conference Operations

At each event, SHARE features several tracks of sessions known as “hot topics.” These tracks are devoted to subjects that are of broad interest within the industry. “Security in the Enterprise” and “Big Data – Big Analytics – Big Needs” are examples of topics that have been very successful over the last few years. Beginning in spring 2016, SHARE will be adding a new hot topic “DevOps in the Enterprise.”  With this track, SHARE will begin exploring the big, confusing world of DevOps and its impact on enterprise computing, systems of record and mainframe technology in general.

What is DevOps exactly? That was my first question when first hearing the proposal for this track. It turns out that my question was not easy to answer. In fact, it seems to be the first question most people have when hearing the term. At its simplest, it stands for a combination of “development” and “operations,” but that description is deceptive. It turns out that there are many layers and interpretations of its meaning. In fact, there are entire conferences devoted to discussing just that. What started as an attempt to streamline the process of developing an application to its deployment in a production environment has now grown to include many new and existing concepts. Process frameworks such as ITIL and principles such as Agile and Lean are being incorporated under the umbrella of DevOps. Modern technology companies such as Flickr and Netflix are making DevOps principles central to their business models. Traditional companies are also adopting DevOps processes as part of their IT strategies. It is a growing segment of the computing industry and is getting “hotter” all the time.

Will this be of interest to SHARE attendees? It’s an obvious question, one that I had asked as well. Does the world of DevOps really have an impact on enterprise computing? In fact, it does, to a greater degree every year. Whether you work for a college, financial institution or phone company, we are all under increased pressure to provide new services more quickly, with fewer development resources and no disruption to existing services. In fact, DevOps practices such as continuous development, continuous integration and change management risk analysis are not entirely new. Most companies have already implemented some of these practices. Their impact is being felt in the culture of every company and the people who manage the back end mainframe systems are not immune. In many cases, large z/OS systems are the “system of record” for the applications being deployed in the DevOps world. They have no choice but to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of the development of the customer facing side — the “systems of engagement.” Many systems will also be hosted on mainframes thanks to the ever-increasing capabilities of Linux on z Systems.

The growth of DevOps has created a new specialization in the computing industry. These folks have “DevOps” in their job titles and have a language all their own. Until now, there has not been much contact with or focus on mainframe-based systems or the people who support them. However, that is starting to change. As we in the traditional SHARE audience struggle to understand what DevOps encompasses, these experts are now examining the role that mainframe systems play in the DevOps arena. SHARE is the perfect place to bring these two groups of people together.

Our goals with this new hot topic are to provide education and stimulate discussion. What does it all really mean? How is it impacting your company’s culture? How does classic data center operations differ from one based on DevOps principles? What will it mean to us in a year or five years?

The “DevOps in the Enterprise” track will include basic informational sessions to help clarify the fog of acronyms and concepts as well as presentations from people who have implemented some of them in real life. How have these changes impacted the way they work? What value did they bring to the business? The track will also feature several interactive sessions where attendees can directly exchange ideas and experiences.

Everyone involved in the development of this new track is very excited to bring it to SHARE. We are currently looking for speakers with DevOps experience to feature at SHARE in San Antonio. If you have an idea for a presentation, or know someone in your organization with DevOps experience, I encourage you to submit the idea to our San Antonio call for presentations. The standard call for presentations will close Friday, Oct. 23, but will remain open for DevOps proposals until Monday, Nov. 30.

Martha McConaghy is a system architect/technical lead at Marist College. With a career spanning more than 30 years, she is a veteran systems programmer who has a broad experience in many aspects of enterprise IT. McConaghy has been involved in SHARE for more than 20 years. During her tenure, she has served in various capacities including project manager, program manager, technical steering committee member, deputy director of operations and now director of operations. While a longtime volunteer for SHARE, Martha still finds time to work with other worthy causes such as Habitat for Humanity, helping to build decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need and indulge in her love for power tools.

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