SHARE Fort Worth: Retaining the Magic of Real World Communication
Corporate Communications Department
As Politico and Bloomberg wrote several weeks ago, the world will never be the same.
Distancelearning and distance communication technologies are booming. One might suggestthat business and professional communication will securely remain online.
However, we believethat one day we will be able to leave our laptops to find ourselves notvirtually, but physically together, having a laugh over a cup of coffee orvisiting old friends and partners on the other side of the globe.
With 25+ yearsof remote work experience behind, we have to admit that no online platform cantransmit that inexplicable part of human communication, which always escapesdefinition. It is the magic ofunpredictable, unstructured, and often illogical face-to-face interaction thatinspires scientists, motivates employees and after all, makes the world goround.
In this context, we would like to remember one of the latest events that IBA Group’s team attended.
Riddle: what do the cowboys and the IBA Group’s mainframers have in common?
Answer: they all shake the dust off their boots and go to Fort Worth 🙂
Fort Worth is nicknamed Cowtown for its deep roots in the cattle ranching and this year it hosted the SHARE conference, one of the major events in the mainframe industry. Our DevOps team were among 1,300 participants who gathered to educate, share and connect. The conference featured 500+ technical sessions and hands-on labs on enterprise IT hot topics such as security, open source, DevOps, and cloud.
That is what our mainframers, Yuliya, Dzmitry, Tatsiana, and Valery, tell about the event.
We arrived inthe Cowtown on February 22, at night. The Sunday morning was not an easy oneafter a 22-hour transatlantic flight. However, a freshly brewed coffee andseveral Zowe sessions cheered us up. The welcome reception at a real Texasrancho was a nice ending of the day. We were happy to meet our old friends andpartners from past SHARE events and we were also pleasantly surprised to seemany new faces this time.
On February24, I was a bit excited, as it was my first time presenting with Dzmitry.Co-presenting is like doing the DevOps pipeline in a way: everything depends onthe teamwork. In our case, thepresentation pipeline managed to embrace many members of the audience whowere very responsive and helped us turn our presentation into a discussion thatcontinued at our booth.
Another challenge was the headline, DevOps for DevOps. It intrigued many attendees and the expectations were quite high. Having attracted the attention, we had to keep the suspense. Dzmitry’s sense of humor livened up the technical part. Here is my favorite joke (see the screen on the photo)
In addition to sharing a laugh, we aimed to show in our presentation that DevOps engineers are common developers, who also feel the need to have VCS for their processes, automatic build and auto testing for CI/CD pipelines. It is especially true for the mainframe, where DevOps involves a great deal of custom code. That is what our team call self-DevOpsing 🙂
Tatsiana and Valery told about technical and cultural solutions for building DevOps on the mainframe in the presentation zDevOps: What We Do, How We Do on February 25. Many last year’s participants were looking forward to their presentation to find out about the project progress in the past four months.
My first conference experience
I remember my first SHARE conference in Whittlebury last year. I was absolutely shocked by the scale of the event and the countless opportunities it presented. At first, I was just listening not daring to ask or express any ideas of my own in front of people whom I considered legends of the mainframe. This time, I was more confident. First, I came to realize that my ideas are appreciated and listened to, and secondly, I am not alone. It is great to feel the support of your team at such events. It really feels like traveling with my family.
Booth 303 atthe SHARE Technology Expo has become our second home in a way, a place where wegathered to discuss the presentations we attended, share the insights and fixappointments with other attendees.
We also took part in several Discussion Loungeconversations that followed technical sessions. What I like about presenting atSHARE is that you are not expected to know all the answers when presenting. Youmight as well ask the questions to the best industry experts and get answersthat you would otherwise never have found.
Other networking opportunities included themed evening receptions and networking breaks where one could relax and have a chat with colleagues from all parts of the world.
Face-to-Face vs Online
I think that with the development of online communication the offline contact will become even more important and valuable. Impressions and contacts are the most precious part that we bring home from real world conferences. Online chats are not able to replace a face-to-face contact. For example, our DevOps team had taken part in dozens of automation trainings online but the test automation framework was out of use until Tanya and Yuliya brought the hands-on experience from Share. Thanks to their energy and commitment, the test automation framework has become a part of our daily workload. Online screens cannot inspire and motivate you in the way the real speakers do; they do not transmit the charisma and do not give the sensation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Expectations vs reality
I expected toget caught up on what’s going on in the industry, build new connections andreconnect with established ones. That was a perfect opportunity for me to seewhere the mainframe industry is heading. The scale of the event was impressivewith over a thousand attendees and huge presentation areas. Despite the size ofthe event, it felt very cozy and homelike. In addition, Texan barbecue was fantastic).
The conferencewas an excellent opportunity to get an insight of what is going on inside the“mainframe box”. The positive thing is that the audience at our sessions isgetting bigger with every conference. This year we had a record number of 60people at our presentation. The most rewarding part is to see that you aregetting fans, people who come to your session at every conference. We were alsoglad to talk to our friends and partners from Compuware, the 21stcentury, Rocket and IBM.
The trendingtopics this year are DevOps and open source. As Greg Lotko from Broadcom saidin his session, “Connectivity and openness can release the power of mainframeand fuel innovation”. New technologies open up mainframe to the new generationof developers. With automation and DevOps, Devs and Ops start working as oneteam. As a result, you have better visibility, more frequent releases, andhappier customers.
Hybrid cloud is another popular technology that makes the mainframemore affordable while maintaining the same security level.
Another trend that cannot be left unnoticed is the fast development of large open source projects like Zowe and small ones supported by a few enthusiasts.
Tatsiana and Yuliya
The mostinteresting presentations to my mind were those on DevOps and test automation.The presentation about Galasaframework Solve Your DevOps PipelineHeadaches With an Open Source Framework for Test Automation by WilliamYates from IBM UK Laboratories was a real blast. IBM developed the frameworkreleased in open source git-repository (seethe link on the photo). Galasa makes the mainframe more accessible tonon-mainframers. It is an excellent opportunity for young developers to playwith the mainframe outside the native environment. Extensible nature and opensource make it easy to integrate with other testing tools of your choice. Atthe moment, we are discussing the applicability of the framework to ourprojects.
Another interesting session was from Rosalind Radcliffe and Suman Gopinath from IBM, titled True Unit Testing for z/OS Application. They were talking about the importance of unit testing at lower levels on developers’ side. The more unit tests you have the less tests you will need at further levels. ZUnit is an automated testing tool delivered in IBM Developer for z/OS. I hope that with time, its scope will widen beyond Cobol and CICS and it will help attract more users.
The presentation Lean Mean Machine – Keeping the Lights on for Agile/DevOps by Jeremy Hamilton focused on how DevOps engineers should define and deliver the best value to the customer. For this purpose, Dev and Ops teams, and the customer need to keep close contact to level the expectations and desired outcomes on the way.
We are one ofthe few mainframe teams in Belarus, most of our projects are carried outremotely as our major clients are from Europe and the US, including some of thebiggest players in the mainframe market. Of course, 24/7 online contact withclients and project managers and Internet help you stay tuned to the industry’supdates, but only at SHARE events you get the unique feeling of being a part ofthe global mainframe community.
Yesterday was the deadline for paper submission for the next Shareconference in Boston. So, our team had areal DevOps party last night, as thebest ideas are always the last to come. As of today, the organizers have noplans to modify, postpone, or cancel SHARE Boston and we are looking forward toplunging into a buzzing atmosphere of the real-world SHARE conference!