Today marks the end of SHARE San Jose, and I’m willing to speak for all attendees when I say the knowledge we’ve gained and will bring back to our respective organizations and roles is invaluable.

SHARE is the ideal industry conference in that it offers over 500 technical sessions for you to choose from. While each session appeals to its own set of attendees, I would argue all of them are worthwhile.

Each day is full of opportunities to learn something new, and as one of my colleagues, Travis Strubing, a first-time attendee, noted, “There is so much content at SHARE that it can be overwhelming at times”—in a good way, of course.

To give you an idea of the variety of sessions available for mainframe professionals at SHARE, here are what I believe were the top six sessions we attended at SHARE San Jose, based on my colleagues’ and my own experience:

    1. SHARE Academy: IMS Immersion
      One of the great things SHARE does is provide what’s called SHARE Academy, where first-time attendees can participate in immersive training in different areas. Two of Compuware’s employees, Shaji Sreedhar and Travis Strubing, attended all-day training for IMS basics. These immersive classes are the key to educating personnel to be fully capable of performing the complex and important IMS database and transaction skills that are needed by the IMS community.
    2. LE for Dummies
      This was a general overview of IBM LE, the runtime component for any program running on z/OS. It was a good general overview and highly recommended for first-time mainframe employees, exemplifying the awareness people have for educating mainframe newcomers who use COBOL, PL/1, C and HLASM on how LE is used and how to debug LE enabled programs. Excellent introduction and necessary for anyone writing programs for z/OS.
    3. New Programming Languages on z!
      This was a review of the status of porting new distributed languages such as node.jjs, Angular and Express to the z/OS platform. The reviewer did show an actual demo of these language running on z/OS, how they integrate and how they can be used by z/OS programmers. While these are “preview” technologies still in flux, the Toronto lab languages team talked about implementation difficulties and how they overcame and exceeded needs on some, but also noted that much work and some roadblocks remain. Regardless, this is an area that demands attention. Programmers who write hundreds of web scripts will be needed to rollout z/OS specific web applications. Node.js could be a major player and customers should be very interested.
    4. LIVE! IBM’s New z/OS Installation Strategy for z/OS
      John Eells described current features in z/OSMF that have been created and are planned to help improve the simple install user experience.  There are many new features described and the audience was thrilled to hear this is about to be a reality, no longer just an idea. John overviewed ISV involvement and lauds how IBM and how 32 different companies, including Compuware, collaborated over three years to make this a reality.

      Compuware’s own Sam Knutson and Keith Sisson, along with BMC‘s Paul Spicer and IBM’s John Eells, described why this is happening with a roadmap review of new features and offerings to come, but most importantly, that this is an unprecedented collaboration to dispose of the baggage and bad aftertastes that have plagued installation applications on z/OS almost forever.

    5. LAB: Create Your Own z/OSMF Workflow
      My colleague Carol Priestley said this was a very helpful laboratory exercise and now has a more concrete and visual view of how workflows are the heart of the new IBM-ISV simple installation direction. One can’t really understand the value and integration that results from the use and creation of the workflow. Each product will develop those workflows customized for each product and each specific release. This visual and hands-on experience highlighted how the need for a 400-page manual can be significantly reduced because contextual help in each phase of the workflow will help obviate the need for these large and bulky manuals—and probably relegate these historic hard copy artifacts to the reference shelves.
    6. Diagnosing Problems in a z/OS Unix Environment
      This was a very helpful and worthwhile technology-filled session about how to identify, diagnose and solve problems with z/OS Unix applications. This was a must-attend session for anyone writing web or modern distributed applications that may have been ported to z/OS.

As I said, these are only a small taste of all that SHARE offers attendees. If you’re looking to grow your knowledge of the mainframe and the specific technical skills involved with your role at an organization, SHARE is the place to do it.