Big Data, Workforce Issues Dominate SHARE Agenda in Orlando

More than 1,000 enterprise IT professionals attended 600-plus educational sessions during the recent SHARE event, held at the Walt Disney World Dolphin in Orlando. Hundreds of topics were discussed, but the biggest issues on attendees' minds were how to deal with the proliferation of data and changing workforce dynamics facing the technology industry.

SHARE Inc. is the world's first and largest independent association of companies employing mainframe systems and related technologies. Many of the sessions at its bi-annual user meetings address the technical and business issues confronting mainframe professionals.

In a presentation titled "The New Era of Smarter Computing: Optimized Systems," Dr. Gururaj Rao, IBM Fellow and systems chief engineer for IBM's Systems & Technology Group, discussed the explosion of data in today's enterprise IT environments. He said that between 2000 and 2010, the number of servers in the world multiplied by a factor of six, and the amount of storage increased by a multiple of 69. In fact, he said, 1.2 zetabytes (or 1.2 trillion gigabytes) of data exist in the digital universe today. Meanwhile, data centers have doubled their energy use in the past 5 years.

According to Dr. Rao, organizations can move to "smarter computing" to manage and leverage this data, reduce IT costs and create new business opportunities. He says smarter computing is realized through an IT infrastructure that is designed for data, tuned to the task and managed in the cloud.

"Being able to provide cloud based services provides a lot of value and a business transformation. CIOs want to enable their businesses to take advantage of cloud," Dr. Rao states.

While moving to the cloud is one solution to manage growing data, the mainframe industry also needs to find a way to deal with an aging workforce.

"In the coming years, organizations will have an increasingly difficult time finding qualified mainframe professionals," says SHARE President Janet Sun. "The pool of available talent will not make up for the number of professionals who are leaving the workforce due to retirement. It's a growing concern among our members, and SHARE is working with IBM to address this issue."

SHARE's efforts include the zNextGen project. In the past 5 years, the group of new and emerging System z professionals has grown from 40 members to more than 700. Each new member is connected with a seasoned mainframe veteran as an industry mentor.

SHARE is also working with IBM's Academic Initiative by promoting technology careers within local schools, and recently, SHARE partnered with CA Technologies to award five mainframe scholarships each year to five IT professionals who are looking to master their mainframe skills.

In addition to supporting the next generation, SHARE has recently launched an effort to bring attention to the most pressing issues facing mainframe and other IT professionals. In the coming months, the association will work with editors and analysts to address the changing workforce, big data and other key trends and concerns facing the industry. SHARE's 2012 winter event in Atlanta will bring together IT practitioners and business leaders to discuss these critical issues.

SHARE also announced the election of two new directors to its board of directors, which also took place in Orlando. Harry Williams, director of technology & Systems at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and James Vincent, senior systems programmer at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, will each serve 2-year terms.

SHARE's next semi-annual meeting will take place in Atlanta, March 11-16, 2012, in the Omni Hotel at CNN Center.

More information is available at the SHARE website.