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I was recently in Sacramento attending the SHARE mainframe conference. It’s always a pleasure to see customers, colleagues and other people interested in all things mainframe. It was especially nice to see all the first-time attendees from hundreds of different companies.

And that’s usually what I come away with—new connections with other mainframe folks, new platform knowledge and new excitement for the mainframe industry. But this time, my biggest take away was this: The next time you hear someone say people entering the workforce don’t want to work with mainframes, think again.

A Fortuitous Meeting

I usually submit items to speak on at SHARE, and at this event I was delivering a session on the DevOps track titled “What exactly is Agile DevOps, and how does it affect me as a Systems Programmer?” It has been my experience that many mainframe operational folks are not too familiar with what Agile Development is, let alone how they fit into the DevOps picture.

For this talk I gave a short primer on Agile Development terms and concepts, and then gave some ideas on how organizations can adapt and re-organize into a DevOps model. This is especially critical because in the digital age, big no longer beats small; fast beats slow.

During my presentation, I was asked some very good questions from one of the attendees. It turns out that attendee was Dr. Jagan Chidella, a professor at Sacramento State University.

He very much enjoyed my session and invited me to speak to his class sometime. I said I would love to and was sure I could work something out. To my surprise, he said, “How about 4 p.m. today?”

The arrangement was made! I met Dr. Chidella later that day on Sacramento State’s campus—which, by the way, has very beautiful rolling grounds dotted with tall Sequoia trees.

Dr. Chidella is a very energetic and optimistic professor who is always looking for the best for his students—the kind of professor you wanted to have when you were taking college classes. It turns out he was teaching a graduate-level DevOps seminar, Advanced Software Engineering Product Management.

His students were pretty much the opposite of my normal audience. They were already very familiar with Agile and DevOps terminology and methodologies, but they had little concept of Waterfall development techniques and almost no knowledge of mainframes. They were a little surprised to hear that not all companies are doing DevOps; yet!

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