The Six Five In the Booth with SHARE President Scott Fagen

The Six Five In the Booth with SHARE President Scott Fagen

On this episode of The Six Five – In the Booth, host Steven Dickens is joined by SHARE President, Scott Fagen, during the SHARE conference in Orlando to continue their conversation on SHARE’s membership program and the importance of SHARE’s online portal and learning management system.

Their discussion covers:

  • An update on SHARE’s individual membership
  • A brief overview of the benefits of the new student membership, which includes networking opportunities and access to the SHARE’d Knowledge platform for sharing knowledge and best practices
  • How SHARE is celebrating Mainframe’s 60th anniversary
  • An update on SHARE’s online portal and the learning management system

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Steven Dickens: Welcome. This is another episode of Six Five Live from the Booth here at SHARE Orlando, and I’m joined by SHARE President Scott Fagen. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Fagen: Thank you, Steve.

Steven Dickens: So, always great to be at this event.

Scott Fagen: Yep.

Steven Dickens: You guys take us on a mystery tour around the country, but Orlando is a great venue. Expo Hall was buzzing last night, I thought.

Scott Fagen: It was awesome. It was awesome the number of people that showed up, and the energy here was pretty high. And-

Steven Dickens: So, where are you from an attendance? Just give us a view. Are we up from last year?

Scott Fagen: We are about the same as last year.

Steven Dickens: Okay. So, we’re back post-Covid, basically.

Scott Fagen: Yeah. We reached that post-Covid, what would you call it, steady state.

Steven Dickens: That’s a good thing, I think.

Scott Fagen: It is a good thing. It allows us some constancy, right? Coming out of Covid was difficult. We had no idea how to plan. Many of our members were looking at travel restraints just coming out of Covid. In some cases, the larger the customer, the slower the policies are to change. We’ve heard a lot of that. I think we’re going to probably see an uptick in Kansas City in August.

Steven Dickens: I think so.

Scott Fagen: Because we had a lot of “Hey, we’re sorry we can’t come” notes, but we are definitely on track for Kansas City.

Steven Dickens: That’s good.

Scott Fagen: And of course, the predictions of the economy’s demise this year were, I think, a little overblown. So a lot of-

Steven Dickens: We’re not going there. We’re not going there. I’m certainly not going to touch that topic.

Scott Fagen: No, but I think it’s from that perspective. A lot of financial companies, a lot of insurance companies, when there’s jitteriness about the economy-

Steven Dickens: They go where the economy goes, basically.

Scott Fagen: Right. And so, it’s like they’re going to lock down, and they’re going to minimize spend. We completely understand that.

Steven Dickens: You guys have been leaning into that hybrid model how things are changing. Last time we spoke, we talked about the individual memberships. I think you were launching those. I remember a flask that I’ve got at home.

Scott Fagen: Yes, we had a great Yeti.

Steven Dickens: Yes.

Scott Fagen: Oh, you stole one.

Steven Dickens: You gave me one. You gave me one. For the purposes of the camera, he gave me one.

Scott Fagen: Oh, okay. Okay.

Steven Dickens: All joking aside, how’s that going?

Scott Fagen: We’re doing well. We were over budget on what we expected.

Steven Dickens: That’s good.

Scott Fagen: We’ve got good participation there; again, a number of people. We took a lot of feedback. To keep people in the community, we introduced an emeritus option.

Steven Dickens: I saw that. I saw that. Great program.

Scott Fagen: So, we got the people who are at the top end, and then we’ve also introduced the student program. So, they have all the benefits of a regular member except for voting. They get to go into the shared knowledge LMS. They get to do the online networking and the virtual networking. They get the bigger… Well, the emeritus guys get a huge discount on coming to the conference, because what we’ve discovered is that many people who have been in this for a career, they want to see it go on and they want to give back. This gives them an option to give back.

Steven Dickens: And it’s great to get them connected to the students and have that knowledge sharing and passing along. So, I think it’s good to see the friendly faces here as well.

Scott Fagen: Absolutely, or see them on your screen, right?

Steven Dickens: Yeah.

Scott Fagen: One of the things I was talking to somebody yesterday about was when I was at that part of my career and I came to SHARE, or I came to other events, people who are at where I am in my career now, those are the people working the space program. And so, most of those people are no longer with us, but having that continuity is tremendous, because not only do you get their experience, but there’s also the whole…

And this is funny. There’s a couple of guys that I work with who are much younger. You’re able to express to them the why. Why does this work this way? This seems really crazy.

Steven Dickens: Get that context.

Scott Fagen: Right. So, one of the things I’m working with a guy on is he’s doing some stuff with raw 3270 data stream. This will get a little deep, but it’s funny. He’s like, “So why does this work this way?” And I said, “Well, you have to remember, these weren’t terminal emulators. These were terminals. And so, everything was architected to take up as little memory as possible to do everything as efficiently as possible.”

So, he’s wondering why the coloration indicators are actually in the screen and take up a space. It’s like, well, because-

Steven Dickens: You’ve got that historical context.

Scott Fagen: Right. He was doing some stuff. He’s like, “There’s a strange space in here. What is this?” It was like, well, it’s not a character. It’s the thing that tells you to make it green or to make it blue.

Steven Dickens: Well, that gives me a great segue. We’re filming this in March. The 60th anniversary of the platform is on April 7th. You guys have been leaning into that this week at SHARE. So, maybe provide a bit of background of what you guys have been up to.

Scott Fagen: We’ve been working with IBM and the other partners. We’ve made a couple of promotional videos. We had a huge cake with System/360 all over it. We’ve been having-

Steven Dickens: Time to celebrate, right?

Scott Fagen: Absolutely right. And if you came to SHARE, you got a 60th anniversary of the mainframe pin, which I wish I could hold up and wave around.

Steven Dickens: We should have organized that a little. I need one.

Scott Fagen: Yeah, you need one too. Well, we got you the Yeti. This time we’ll get you the pin.

Steven Dickens: This is not me begging swag, but that’s how it’s going to look if you watch these videos.

Scott Fagen: I thought that’s why you got into this, right? So you could get great stuff from all the conferences and all the vendors.

Steven Dickens: Yes. My wife likes the T-shirts to sleep in.

Scott Fagen: There you go.

Steven Dickens: So, maybe I need to pick some of those up while I’m here.

Scott Fagen: You need these for car rags, right?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, yeah.

Scott Fagen: We have a great purple T-shirt this time. So if you are here and you see this, come to the booth, update your membership information, and we’ll give you a new T-shirt. We also have those great Yetis. We got a bunch more.

Steven Dickens: Fantastic.

Scott Fagen: To try to bring more of the community in and make it easier… It’s hard to get scheduled for a session at SHARE. There’s so much great information. There are so many people who are so freaking smart about this stuff who want to share. And we only have 400, 500 slots to put things in, and we typically get thousands of calls.

Steven Dickens: But I think we talked about it the last time, the online portal and the learning management system. You guys are doing a great job on building that out and keeping that continuity in between the events.

Scott Fagen: Exactly. So, what we’re having here now is a premium. And one of the things that’s really cool is you don’t have to do an hour session. A video can be five minutes. It can be 25 minutes. You want to do a podcast or a vodcast, it could be three hours. Joe Rogan on mainframes, we might have to try to figure that out.

Steven Dickens: That might blow your budget for the next one though.

Scott Fagen: But if you come in and you suggest something to go into Shared Knowledge, around the back side of this booth are a bunch of Yetis and you’ll get one. It’s for the first 50, I think.

Steven Dickens: Well, I think that’s great trying to expand out the portfolio. The sessions here are fantastic. Being here is great. Being able to interact with the speakers is great. But there’s a lot of people who can’t maybe come.

Scott Fagen: Precisely.

Steven Dickens: Or maybe come to one but miss the next who need to still get that content because they’re in their shop and they need to know about the latest release of z/OS or Db2 or Gigs, or they need a master class on the tools because they’re doing something. People need that, and I think the LMS, learning management system, is going to provide that.

Scott Fagen: Precisely. And there’s all that opportunity for people who maybe don’t have an hour’s worth of material, but here’s how I got around a problem. We’ve got a lot of customers who are now into having to use z/OSMF to install their system, and they’re scrambling to learn. It would be great if somebody would come up with a video and say, “Hey, I ran into this problem with the install. It’s not a real problem. It’s just I didn’t know what to do.”

Steven Dickens: You’ve got to navigate it this way.

Scott Fagen: Exactly. Right? Go make a short video. Do a little voiceover. Maybe it’s 10 minutes. Maybe it’s 15 minutes. Put in the LMS. You can be a hero.

Steven Dickens: Well, that’s what the conference is all about, it’s in the name, sharing that knowledge and their best practices. If we go back over the 60 years, that’s what this conference has always been about.

Scott Fagen: Always been about, yep. It’s always been about people helping people. In the old days, it was how do you get this behemoth up and running and keep it running? Now, it’s much more around how do I find skills? How do I get people to understand? I’m sure that there’s a whole wealth of knowledge about Python out there that people here could probably use, a lot of the other things that are going on, and to help. I think there’s going to be a lot of work coming up in the future where we talk about the hybrid cloud or the public cloud and hooking the mainframe up to that.

It’s one thing to say, “I got the wires out to the internet.” It’s another thing to say that I’ve done that securely and I’ve done it efficiently and-

Steven Dickens: Share that best practice.

Scott Fagen: Right. And so, IBM is going to come in with a theory. Broadcom is going to come in with a theory. Some of the software vendors will come in with a theory. But at the end of the day, it’s the people who stack the LEGO pieces together and go, “That piece is hanging out a little wrong. I got to undo this and get it back.”

Steven Dickens: Sharing that best practice, as you say, it’s not around the tools. It’s how you architect that overall solution.

Scott Fagen: And sometimes it’s the big, and sometimes it’s the small. I’ve got product X, Y, and Z, and you’re one of the three companies that have it configured that way. It would be great to be able to get those people together.

Steven Dickens: Share that best practice.

Scott Fagen: Share that knowledge, share that best practice, or push back on the vendors and say, “You guys are not doing it quite right, and here’s why.”

Steven Dickens: Yeah. And the community does a great job of that.

Scott Fagen: Yes.

Steven Dickens: So, we do this event twice a year. What can people expect? Maybe to give the trailer for the next one, when’s that, where is it, what’s the format? Is the format going to change again? Are we going to-

Scott Fagen: No, we’re still looking at four days. We still have a lot of constraints. There were a lot of events that did not occur for a couple of years. The demand for conference space, I’m sure you’ve seen this all over, it’s hard to get space and time. And the expenses are up, so we’re going to probably stick with the four days.

It also seems like more and more of our members are a little bit more hesitant around a five-day conference. So, we’re going to play with that a little bit. As you can see here in the STE, we’ve made some big changes in how it’s laid out and the timing. A lot of the vendors said, or a lot of our partners said, “Hey, the Sunday night thing was not so good for us. We got to get people in early on Sunday. That can be difficult.” So, we pushed everything out back to the old Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Everything old is new again at the STE. And so, we’re trying to be far more agile and listen to folks.

Steven Dickens: Where are we heading next? And what are the dates?

Scott Fagen: Off the top of my head, I don’t know the dates, but we are in August in Kansas City.

Steven Dickens: Fantastic.

Scott Fagen: It’ll be the same Sunday pre-conference activities, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday is getaway day.

Steven Dickens: Or take in the sights of Kansas City.

Scott Fagen: Right, yeah. It’s a little different than taking in the sights of Orlando. But now, my daughter she’s in Kansas these days, and she spends a lot of time in Kansas City, and she seems to think it’s a great place. I know they have good barbecue.

Steven Dickens: That’s not a bad thing.

Scott Fagen: But coming from a guy who lives in Dallas, that’s heresy.

Steven Dickens: Well, again, you’re trying to get me into all these subjects. I’m just not going to go there.

Scott Fagen: No, you’re not going to go there. You’re not going to take the bait?

Steven Dickens: We’ve tried to steer me into politics and to who’s got the best barbecue.

Scott Fagen: No, I wasn’t steering you into politics. I was steering you to what people were thinking.

Steven Dickens: I’m joking.

Scott Fagen: And what they were telling us, I know. It’s the logistical problems of time immemorial, right? You can’t predict the future.

Steven Dickens: You guys do a great job with this event. You really do.

Scott Fagen: We have a great partnership with Smithbucklin and the SHARE staff, and it was-

Steven Dickens: It’s great we’ve memorialized our media partnership now. So, The Futurum Group is the official media partner of the… I should have maybe led off with that.

Scott Fagen: Oh, we need a T-shirt, right?

Steven Dickens: Yeah, we need to get some merch made up. But no, we always appreciate the collaboration. It’s been fantastic to be involved.

Scott Fagen: Oh, we do, too. No, it’s absolutely great you guys being the new media and actually including mainframe as part of your flagship set of products. We are thrilled about that. It really makes a difference, and it helps us as an independent voice talking through an independent voice.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, really keen to amplify the event. Well, Scott, always a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you very much, as always.

Scott Fagen: Well, thank you, Steve. Appreciate it.

Steven Dickens: Appreciate it. Thank you very much for watching. You’ve been watching Six Five In the Booth coming to you live from SHARE in Orlando. We’ll see you next time. Thank you very much for watching.

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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