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Well, another SHARE is in the books and SHARE Atlanta 2016 offered some cool surprises.

In addition to the unexpected placement of a transparent z13 in the center of the hall, the SHARE “Hack-a-thon” drew heavy participation and even more attention and the vaunted Redbooks team opened their kimono and allowed attendees to help write a new IBM Redbook in real-time.

Also, Big Data was a surprisingly common topic of conversation on the show floor and in the conversations outside the session rooms during breaks. It seems that all the Data Scientists and “Big Data” analytics actually require ALL of an enterprise’s data to drive decisions, create value, and truly secure enterprise organizations. Big Iron to Big Data discussions included the debate of FICON Data Transport vs. TCP/IP and the all-important conundrum of getting important SMF and other log data out of the mainframe and into “Big Data” repositories and data lakes for real-time correlation to enable truly relevant ITOA (IT operational analytics) and enterprise security.

The welcome reception was rife with familiar faces, including one SHARE mainstay, always recognizable from the front or back due to his famous suspenders…the one and only Reg Harbeck. Reg hinted that “Mainframe Karaoke” was back on the docket and that made it clear to me that the week would be memorable.

Mainframe publishing royalty was in the house with Enterprise Systems Media’s Bob Thomas, (also the founder of the Mainframe Hall of Fame), and the prolific writer and editor Denny “The Texting Texan” Yost in town.  Not to be outdone, the MSP Communications team was here from Minnesota with Mari Adamson-Bray and Kathy Ingulsrud leading the contingent from IBM Systems Magazine. It’s great to see the media in force at SHARE.


The “Hack-a-thon” was very popular at SHARE Atlanta.

Some key topics and items from the keynotes and session rooms included:

  • Skills Gap and the “Mind the Gap” infographic (and educational programs like zNextGen, SHARE Academy and Mainframe Academy to address it)
  • SHARE officially joins that “Open Mainframe” project
  • Martha McConaghy won the SHARE President’s Award as did Donna Hudi in a surprise 2nd award that made everyone smile
  • Congratulations rightly went out to William C. “Beaver” Holt from TSYS, a 1st time speaker at SHARE!

The Keynote from Contently’s Shane Snow was about thinking in new ways (I refuse to say “outside the box”), and was worthy of detailed write-up, so here it is:

 Key points included:

  • Think Sideways (aka “Lateral Thinking”)
  • Think Simple (Radical Simplification)
  • Think 10x.

Snow made some great references in his pitch, including:

  • Lateral Thinking” – Unconventional orientation and approach to problem solving … like MacGyver!
  • His childhood “Bigger or Better” game where groups each start the day with something small (like a toothpick) and go door to door for “trade ups” for slightly bigger and better thing, eventually getting up to something unthinkable (like a car) when they day began. Small wins, he said, motivate as well as get you closer to solving the big problem.
  • The cheetah is the best predator not because of its straight ahead speed, because it can turn and move sideways at high speed (80 mph), hence “The Cheetah Principle” is about lateral thinking and movement.

Snow also gave a poignant example of talented surgical operation team that had far too many children dying despite their individual skill, constant communication and teamwork during operations, and all-out effort.  Frustrated, he looked for answers in non-traditional places and after seeing a Formula 1 pit crew team work a pit stop, the leader then:

  • Studied their approach
  • Hired a dance choreographer for the surgical team
  • Ended all the talking and had each member of the surgical team be silent and only do their own job
  • Used the Anesthesiologist as team Flagman/Lollipop Man who observes all and alone says when to start and when the operation is finished/complete
  • The results were a remarkable 50% of surgical errors reduced overnight and virtually all errors removed over time.

The “Radical Simplification Concept” was next and his example of the desperate need for incubators ($20-40K each) as globally they could save 20 million babies if were 100x cheaper.  Attacking the problem by radically simplifying the core problem for preemies resulted in a 100x challenge and the development of an inexpensive baby sleeping bag with a safe heating pad to replicate the core purpose of an incubator.  The “Embrace Infant Warmer” is already saving hundreds of thousands of lives and resultant efforts have created a promising new company with the highest corporate social responsibility (CSR) profile.

Finally, he discussed the concept of 10x vs. 10%.  “It’s easier to make something 10x better than 10% better” is the quote from the appropriately named Astro Teller.  Decision-making towards a lesser goal often saps the will-power to use lateral thinking and true creativity.  Einstein always wore the same suit to reduce the number of non-essential decisions.  A 10x goal often drives those and generates great stories, passion from the organization’s members and outsized support towards being part of a huge effort toward something remarkable.

His thought-provoking keynote ended with the reminder that setting really big goals drives better performance and lateral thinking and the borrowed, but appropriate quote, “It’s easier to start a revolution than a lemonade stand.”

After that great keynote, “enterprise security” was on my list and I heard some new (and a few familiar) acronyms and terms that everyone that touches security should learn:

  • IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems)
  • IPS (Intrusion Protection Systems), meaning detect AND defend
  • SNORT (an open source product with some traction)
  • SIEM (Security Information and Event Management): as in the category of products as covered by Gartner, etc.
  • MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers)
  • DAMs (Database Activity Monitor)
  • Correlation(as in correlation of security information and events to find patterns, anomalies, etc.)
  • Splunk and Hunk (Splunk Analytics for Hadoop).

I also heard (and in some cases joined) some great conversations about IMS-to-DB2 migrations, advanced network monitoring tools and new zIIP engine utilization opportunities with DBAs, operational efficiency leads, and capacity planners.  Great best practices sharing all over at this aptly named event.

Well, that’s about it for this wrap-up.  Lots of other great stuff and conversations in Atlanta last week, including reminiscing with mainframe and polka stalwart Stefan Kochishan from CA, and hanging out with DB2 Guru and blogger Troy Coleman (now back on the IBM mother ship btw), and our new pal, former heavyweight boxing champion Tony Tubbs (who was in town with his nephew, a top contender for the belt).

 Let us know if you have anything to add.  Also, we’d like to learn about what you are doing with mainframe data for analytics and a little bit about your needs. If you fill out our 2-minute (7 question) survey, we’ll send you our new Big Iron-to-Big Data whitepaper. See you at SHARE San Jose!