Through the early years and until a decade or so ago, SHARE was fairly exclusive and exclusionary, addressing only IBM mainframe issues, requiring ownership or operation of a mainframe for membership, and restricting discussion of non-IBM products. Simultaneously, SHARE’s original scientific computing emphasis faded, especially after introduction of System/360 in 1964, which converged the previously quite separate scientific and commercial computing.
GUIDE, a similar organization also founded in the 1950s to support commercial computing, also evolved to general mainframe issues, though with a management slant, as opposed to SHARE’s technical orientation. GUIDE ceased operation a few years ago, with SHARE absorbing some of its people and activities.
COMMON (http://common. org) originally supported individual and organizational users of low-end and midrange IBM systems. As boundaries between computing hierarchies have blurred and all technologies’ capabilities have grown, COMMON’s interests have grown. The organization’s Website now notes, “In 1960, COMMON began in Chicago, with just a few people sitting around a kitchen table, discussing a common code problem on the IBM 1620. That informal gathering marked the first COMMON meeting. Since then, COMMON has become the world’s largest membership of IT professionals who use IBM and IBM-compatible information technology.”
COMMON now comprises 6,500 individual and corporate members representing more than 23,000 IT professionals involved with IBM iSeries (formerly AS/400, itself descended from System/38) and related applications and solutions.
WAVV (http://wavv.org), formed in 1995 as a spin-off of the former GUIDE user group, promotes the interests of users of the VSE and VM operating systems, including substantial Linux activities. WAVV is a more casual, even funky, and quite enjoyable organization. Contrasted with groups such as SHARE and COMMON, which operate with large volunteer staffs and are supported by a paid management company, WAVV (or, more formally, World Alliance of VSE & VM) is operated by just a few organizers and their spouses. Its next conference will be in Winston Salem, NC, April 25-29, 2003. Meeting in cost-effective cities with efficient logistics, WAVV is a tremendous grass-roots bargain.
Commonly called CMG, the Computer Measurement Group (http://cmg. org/) is a worldwide organization of data processing professionals committed to the measurement and management of computer systems. CMG members are primarily concerned with performance evaluation of existing systems to maximize performance (e.g., response time, throughput) and with capacity management, where planned enhancements to existing systems or new systems design are evaluated to find the necessary resources required to provide adequate performance at a reasonable cost.
User groups of many descriptions have supported technology around the world. Europe’s G.U.I.D.E. and SEAS (a SHARE affiliate) merged to become GSE (Guide/ Share/Europe). European country-specific groups formed to support geographic technology focus, while other groups coalesced to become JGS (Japan GUIDE/SHARE) and INTERACTION Australasia. The International User Group Council (http:/ /www.ugc.org/) links IBM user groups.
What 's In This for Me?
Tish Snow, a long-ago colleague and close friend, was an active SHARE volunteer, serving tirelessly in many roles from board member to VM Group Secretary; a SHARE award, recognizing people supporting the SHARE community, was named for her. To help other SHARE attendees benefit from their membership, she described benefits of SHARE participation. These benefits are provided, to varying degrees, by most user group activities:
- High-quality, cost-effective technical training and education
- Presenting formal product requirements to vendors
- Interaction with technically knowledgeable vendor personnel
- Providing access to senior vendor executives
- Solving the “I’m alone with this problem” feeling
- Personal growth and visibility
User Groups Are Communities