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SHARE: Honoring Legacy and Pushing the Mainframe Forward

Scott Fagen, Preston Rominger and Brian Langerman share highlights from SHARE Atlanta and discuss the future of the enterprise IT community

For more than 60 years, SHARE has provided education and professional networking opportunities to the enterprise IT community. This past March, SHARE hosted its spring conference in Atlanta, where attendees gained valuable insight into today’s mainframe technology.

The Legacy of SHARE

Scott Fagen, president of SHARE, reports that the spring conference was a success. Highlights of SHARE Atlanta included networking and making new connections, but also reconnecting with old colleagues. “It was nice to be able to honor Aron Eisenpress for his 52 years of service to SHARE,” says Fagen. “He remains involved because he wants to give his expertise back. And that’s true for lots of people.”

Eisenpress is just one of many enterprise IT veterans who have remained loyal to the platform and continue to dedicate time and energy to sharing their expertise with others. Fagen says this fact is a testament to the steadfast relevance of the mainframe and SHARE. “It’s an organization where people feel like they’re getting something out of it…but they’re also able to give back,” he says.

Another highlight of this year’s spring conference was the keynote session with Rocket Software’s Phil Buckellew, who led a Q&A with Derek Powe of M&T Bank. “As much as we love to have vendor technical content, it’s always better to get that customer view,” Fagen says. “The customer who has actually implemented the technology can be blunt about what worked well, and what could have been better.”

Growing and Evolving

After several years of pandemic-related limitations, the return to in-person conferences has been a refreshing change for many SHARE members. The COVID-19 pandemic also revealed opportunities for SHARE to modernize, evolve and adapt to the current market, according to Brian Langerman, executive director of SHARE.

Langerman says, “We saw how companies post-COVID really thought about their education, their budget, how much they’re spending on travel and training…there’s definitely a lot of people interested in coming to SHARE, but they just aren’t able to get buy-in from their company.” For some, digital options have more appeal than in-person conferences. “That type of offering is the best way to reach our membership and continue to grow as a user group,” Langerman adds.

Education On Demand

To meet its audience where they’re at, SHARE is launching a new learning management system (LMS) that will provide a 24-7-365 education experience for members.

While SHARE conferences present an invaluable opportunity to learn from peers and share knowledge in person, they only occur twice a year. Often, certain vendors with valuable expertise are unable to present at SHARE because of time and capacity restraints. These sessions can be recorded and made available through the LMS. It is also common for attendees to be unable to attend every in-person session. The new LMS, which is slated to launch in July 2023, will allow the opportunity to revisit missed sessions.

Participants in the new education initiative can receive digital badges for completing specific courses, which are centered on high-level topics like security, DevOps and AI.

Looking Ahead

“With more education and more people viewing it, you’re going to get diversity of thought, which is going to bring better ideas and bring up questions that we hadn’t thought of before,” says Preston Rominger, SHARE’s director of year-round education.

“Society has changed, the culture has changed, the way people get education has definitely changed,” Fagen says. Looking ahead to the next 60 years, SHARE seeks to continue evolving and adapting to the ever-changing enterprise IT landscape. Fagen adds, “As long as there are people pushing the envelope on technology, I think it shows that the mainframe world is vibrant and moving forward.”