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Insights from SHARE: 2024 Mainframe Innovations and Networking in Kansas City

Insights from SHARE 2024 Mainframe Innovations and Networking in Kansas City

On this episode of The Six Five Webcast, host Steven Dickens talks with Scott Fagen, President of SHARE, about the upcoming event in Kansas City. Watch Steven and Scott to learn more about how SHARE:

  • Has become the largest independent mainframe systems event.
  • Offers extensive educational sessions and networking opportunities.
  • Provides opportunities for discussions, collaborations, and influence on vendor directions.

Join The Futurum Group and SHARE in Kansas City from August 4th-8th for this wonderful event. And don’t forget to use code FUTURUM when registering on share.org for discounted entry to the event.

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Transcript:

Steven Dickens: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Six Five. I’m coming to you here talking about SHARE in Kansas City, and I’m joined by Scott Fagen, the President of SHARE. Hey Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Fagen: Thanks, Steve. How you doing?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, I’m good. I’m looking forward to Kansas City. Not been there. Hear there’s some good barbecue that I should be looking forward to. So let’s dive straight in. Tell us a little bit about SHARE. What’s coming up? What should people be looking for as they think about registering?

Scott Fagen: Well, they should be thinking about what they’ve always thought about SHARE for registration. We are the largest and probably most venerable large systems conference that’s independent from any of the vendors. We do partner with our vendors but we’re not beholden to them. And I think as time goes on, what’s the most important thing to recognize is that every one of the major vendors and even the minor vendors have moved forward with what they call continuous development, continuous deployment of their products, so there’s always going to be something new.

We probably don’t have enough time for enough SHARE conferences to keep up with all of the great pace of what they’re delivering to us. So even if you came to Orlando or you came last year, there’s going to be all kinds of new stuff that IBM, Broadcom, BMC, Rocket, they’re going to be talking about in terms of new content, new services, new abilities. The IT landscape continues to move forward quickly. AI continues to be huge topics of conversation.

And I don’t make a day where a customer doesn’t say, “Well, what do I do with my mainframe and AI?” And I say, “Well, there’s great things to do. There’s also lots of things to avoid.” And having those conversations, being in the same place where there are many customers who are kind of in the midst of that journey, some customers who are just getting started, being able to talk to them and see what’s going on with them is also really, really important. The networking aspect can’t be overlooked.

Steven Dickens: The way I look at SHARE is it’s that one-stop shop every six months. You guys do a fantastic job of moving this around the country. But it’s the way I can speak to the vendors. It’s the way I can speak to other customers. It’s the way I can speak to the people in the ecosystem about the mainframe, stay current, stay skilled, stay up to date about this platform. Am I thinking about it right, Scott? Is that the sort of in a nutshell way to think about it?

Scott Fagen: That’s definitely it. It’s sort of like this is where the critical mass of mainframe thinkers come together. You’ve got the brightest minds from the vendors, you’ve got the brightest minds from the customers. There are lots of customers who are in your business. There are lots of customers who are in different businesses than yours that are adjacent, and you need to be able to think about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, what the vendors are doing. You can stack them up side by side and say, “Hey, I like what vendor X is doing about AI. I’m not so sure about what these guys are doing.” Go and talk to them at the trade show, grab them a coffee, have them take you out to dinner.

That’s always a good thing too to learn about what’s going on. I mean, each one of the focus areas has a dinner and lots of get-togethers during the actual conference so you can find like-minded people and understand and learn from them as well as you can just dispense some wisdom that you’ve learned to them. And one of the other things that SHARE does very well is we influence the vendors to go and maybe it’s not just explain it to us better but do it differently. But what you’re giving us is not something we can consume.

I work at a systems integrator, partner with lots of customers, and we’ll go in and say, “Hey, we’re representing,” I’m not going to give any specific vendors here because we get kicked out for saying some, and we get brought in for saying others without favoritism, “We’re here to represent vendor X, Y, Z, and they think that you should do this.” And the customer goes, “Well, that’s nonsense.” “Well, guess what? Vendor A, B, C does it the way you want to do it.” And we can go back to those vendors and influence them, influence them directly. You can influence like my company, CDW, or another partner like Mainline who are also integrators to be able to go off and influence the bigger vendors to do the right things. You’ve got all three storage vendors there. Same thing is going on.

Steven Dickens: Well, the other thing I think you’ve done a fantastic job at SHARE … We’ve talked about the vendors. We’ve talked about the big enterprises. You guys have put individual memberships in place. There’s always a rich SHARE attendee list from students, and graduates, and new to the platform. You guys do a fantastic job with the sort of one-on-one track of information that people can really get started. So I think the other reason to go to the show, as far as I see it, is the ability to interact with some of these people.

If you’re looking to hire, refresh your portfolio of your team, maybe the demographics are working against you and you need to refresh and get some new people in, this is a fantastic opportunity to talk to invested graduates and early-stage professionals to get them into the platform. So I think whilst the vendor piece and the big enterprise piece is always going to be there, I think being able to get individuals, and training partners, and skills, and think about some of that piece is always crucial for me.

Scott Fagen: Yeah, we always have at every show some professor from some school comes, brings half a dozen, a dozen of his students or her students to the show. We get lots of drop-ins from the local schools because we do offer basically a zero-price entry ticket for someone who shows their student ID card and if they’re interested. I mean, and the world is not the same as it was.

You can do an internship from 500 miles away, a thousand miles away across the country, and a lot of the work that mainframers do isn’t constrained to being inside the glass house. So it’s a great opportunity for these companies to meet the younger generation and almost, I’ll put my air quotes up, try before you buy. It’s a very I guess for the younger generation they call it a safe space, for the older generation it’s non-threatening. And you can meet over an adult beverage if the student’s over 21 or meet over a soft drink if they’re not.

Steven Dickens: Well, so-

Scott Fagen: Absolutely true, Steve. Thank you.

Steven Dickens: I mean this is a real watering hole for the mainframe community. Let’s hit some of the basics. When is the event? How do people register? Let’s hit some of the details, Scott.

Scott Fagen: Well, it’s August 4th through 8th in Kansas City, Missouri. I believe this is the first time we’ve ever been to Kansas City. Great barbecue, actually nicely placed in the center of the country. The weather shouldn’t be too hot. I think some people complained about New Orleans in the summer last time. And people-

Steven Dickens: It was a little warm.

Scott Fagen: It was warm and it was a little moist, so it’s all good.

Steven Dickens: Yes.

Scott Fagen: So Kansas City’s a little different. It’s nicely placed between a lot of cities locally, Chicago, St. Louis are not all that far, Pittsburgh. So I’d encourage people who are within driving distance to definitely consider coming. To register you just go to share.org and click on Events, and look for the registration link. And one of the great things about tuning into this little soiree that we’re having here is that if you use promo code FUTURUM, F-U-T-U-R-U-M, you’ll get $150 off the registration, which is kind of awesome.

Steven Dickens: Scott, double clicking there, one of the things that you guys have launched recently is the individual memberships. Can you tell us more?

Scott Fagen: Right. So the individual membership is really tailored to somebody who it may not be sort of the long-term employee at a particular company, contractors, or people whose company doesn’t have enough I think internalized about the mainframe that they want to be a member of SHARE. Now, those are few and far between, but they do exist. There’s also a whole host of people who are outside the United States, Canada, and Mexico, who probably just can’t put together the wherewithal to leave the country for the week, come to a conference, and then go back.

So the individual membership gives almost all the same access to the folks who come to SHARE. We do record a great number of the sessions that are given at SHARE, plus there’s additional content that’s not at the conference. We can only do three to five hundred sessions at a particular conference. We get thousands of submissions, so we do ask that those folks who don’t get accepted for the conference record their session, put it in the learning management system, and make it available generally to anybody who’s an individual member. I mean, it’s a tremendous resource. And even for those who are corporate members, if you join, excuse me, as an individual member, you can then go into the learning management system. A lot of the stuff that we show is the cutting-edge. Of course, the vendors want to put their best foot forward.

Talk about, “Here’s the stuff that we just released three months ago.” Not everybody’s ready for that. If you’re ready for the stuff that was released last year who do you go talk to? Well, all this stuff’s recorded. You can go back, you can see the presentations from last year, two years ago, get caught up, and if you need to, get help from the folks who’ve done the presentations or other experts. We’ve got the discussion forms out there that are available. A lot of people today seem to be learning IT and IT concepts from places like Stack Overflow, Quora, Reddit, there’s a whole mainframe stream on Reddit. But the thing about those is that they’re not really membership-driven.

They’re just sort of driven by people who have an interest. And you never know what’s the sanity level of somebody who’s answering your question. If you go to the SHARE discussion forums, you’re getting the answer from somebody who’s a professional in the field. They’re a member. They paid money to be a member. And I think that that’s a whole lot more appropriate for somebody in a corporate setting than throwing up your question on Stack Overflow and getting 50 answers and then you have to filter through them and decide which person’s the least insane of the other answers. But yeah, so I think it’s really important. I’m an individual member. I’ve contributed content. I’ve certainly consumed a lot of content over the last few months as I try to catch up on all the things that have been coming out of IBM, and Broadcom, and the other vendors as well.

Steven Dickens: So Scott, what are those top three reasons why people should attend SHARE in Kansas City?

Scott Fagen: So the top three reasons for people to attend SHARE in Kansas City in my opinion are, one, the education’s unmatched. We’re going to have more than 300 technical sessions coming from the technical experts in the field, and that includes from the vendors, from the hardware vendors, from the software vendors, as well as a number of customers who are well established and long-term mainframe people. The second is the unmatched ability to network with experts. You may not have a specific question about what’s going on in a session, but you may have a general question or a question that’s burning back in your shop.

And you can ask around and say, “Hey, who’s the right person to ask this question of,” and people will direct you to the right person, whether it’s a vendor, whether it’s another customer who’s lived through the pain of whatever it is that you’re going through. And then finally, we are continuing with our 60th anniversary of the mainframe celebration. There’s going to be a lot of events there. But beyond that, we have lots of special interest groups who meet at SHARE and talk about their specific problems and their specific needs and goals. We have women in IT as well as veterans in IT that meet here. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity for you to meet like-minded people. If you’re in one of those groups, that’s great. If you want to form a group, that’s great.

We do have things like birds of a feather session where people who are like-minded about a specific issue can meet and discuss those problems and then go and drag down the vendor and get your problem solved. So I think that those are kind of the top three reasons. The top three reasons are, we’re mainframers, we get together, we deal with our issues. We go and give kudos to the vendors that do good jobs. We go and beat on them when they don’t. And it’s just a great opportunity to do it.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, and as the official research and media partner of the event we’re happy to promote it, Scott. And thank you for coming on the show. I think it’s a must-attend event for everybody who’s looking to engage with the mainframe. So Scott, always a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

The Six Five In the Booth with SHARE President Scott Fagen

Infrastructure Matters – Insider Edition with AveriSource CMO Ed Airey at SHARE Orlando 2024

Navigating the Mainframe Landscape: Q1 2024 Challenges, Trends, and Strategies for Success

Author Information

Regarded as a luminary at the intersection of technology and business transformation, Steven Dickens is the Vice President and Practice Leader for Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure, and Operations at The Futurum Group. With a distinguished track record as a Forbes contributor and a ranking among the Top 10 Analysts by ARInsights, Steven's unique vantage point enables him to chart the nexus between emergent technologies and disruptive innovation, offering unparalleled insights for global enterprises.

Steven's expertise spans a broad spectrum of technologies that drive modern enterprises. Notable among these are open source, hybrid cloud, mission-critical infrastructure, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and FinTech innovation. His work is foundational in aligning the strategic imperatives of C-suite executives with the practical needs of end users and technology practitioners, serving as a catalyst for optimizing the return on technology investments.

Over the years, Steven has been an integral part of industry behemoths including Broadcom, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and IBM. His exceptional ability to pioneer multi-hundred-million-dollar products and to lead global sales teams with revenues in the same echelon has consistently demonstrated his capability for high-impact leadership.

Steven serves as a thought leader in various technology consortiums. He was a founding board member and former Chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project, under the aegis of the Linux Foundation. His role as a Board Advisor continues to shape the advocacy for open source implementations of mainframe technologies.

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