SHARE President Pam Taylor: New Technology, Economics Drive Enterprise Data Center Resurgence

5 Minute Briefing: This month's SHARE event in Denver has a lot of hot industry topics and programs. Can you describe what's coming up?

Taylor: Total enterprise virtualization and service orientation have been our focus themes for the whole year. It's been a pretty good set of themes for us, especially in the area of virtualization, because that's just such a hot topic for everybody right now. And we've been addressing enterprise-wide virtualization since back at the beginning of the year. We also have added a significant number of sessions in the cloud computing space, so the two are very complementary. I'm really excited about the cloud offerings, to see how engaged people are, in looking into what is involved in cloud, and what it means for them.

5 Minute Briefing: The industry at large is just starting to connect the dots between cloud and virtualization. SHARE is ahead of the curve in this thinking.

Taylor: It's a good place to be.

FMB: What other kinds of sessions are planned for Denver?

Taylor: We have all the breadth of sessions that we have always offered, from System z to our focus themes to areas that are top of mind for CIOs and their staffs these days. We've brought a lot of content together under the Enterprise Data Center umbrella-focusing on around how you operate and manage your enterprise data center, and how it provides services to the business. We also have expanded our application content to include application architecture and development, and started moving into the application integration space.

5 Minute Briefing: Are architecture and application integration new topic areas for SHARE?

Taylor: I would say we're bringing more focus to it. We have tended in the past to be a little more oriented toward the pure application developer, and the tools they need in the areas of languages, individual application configuration management, and that sort of thing. But we're finding that more and more, the complexity that people need to resolve is a little bit higher up the stack than an individual program. SHARE has always been about helping people understand complexity, cope with it, and find best practices to manage it. So we have added this focus a little bit higher up the stack, more towards what the software architects are trying to understand as they make their internally developed applications work with the packaged applications they bought from vendors like IBM and SAP and Oracle. Those are really challenging problems that people are trying to solve today.

5 Minute Briefing: Does SHARE's agenda also help address economic conditions, emphasizing ROI and making a business case for projects?

Taylor: Yes, throughout enterprise IT, there's a lot heavier emphasis on being able to do things more efficiently. One of the things we've tried to capitalize on and promote is the value of participating in an event like SHARE-even when economic times are challenging-for the information you learn there and the kind of conversations you have with peers and colleagues in that kind of environment. A user-focused environment can really give you some insight into implementation decisions, best practices and things you should do, and even more importantly, things you shouldn't do. It can actually help minimize your risk of going the wrong way on a project, or spending money in the wrong kind of implementation. We think there's huge value to be gained there at a time when people are being extremely careful about use of their resources.

5 Minute Briefing: In Denver you will mark your first-year anniversary in office. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment, and where is more work to be done?

Taylor: That's a tough question. As you might imagine, if you look back to a year ago, there were some signs that the economy was shaky, but we didn't expect it was going to have quite the comprehensive impact that it did. Keeping the organization relevant, and seeing the organization and the volunteer leadership step up to steer through some challenging times, has been very rewarding for me. That said, I think there are some important things that we're doing are as a result of the economy, such as really giving significant attention to what's top-of-mind for our organizations and for where they're spending their resources, and trying to ensure that we are offering content that is going to help the IT professionals to serve their businesses better. Another thing we are spending some time on is trying to understand how to capitalize on Web 2.0 environments-things like social networking and online resources and how to integrate those more effectively into a year-round SHARE experience. That's what I hope we'll be able to achieve next. So, in addition to the two in-person events a year, we can really have a community that engages with each other beyond those two conferences.

5 Minute Briefing: Do you see SHARE moving to an online environment? Dare I call it ‘SHARE 2.0'?

Taylor: I actually believe it needs to be both online and in-person. Because as important as the online community is, I think we have proof positive from just our experience as an organization that it's not ‘either/or.' It's 'both/and.' There are things you can conduct in a virtual online environment that are highly positive and extremely important and very helpful. But there's also that face-to-face engagement where you have the opportunity to take the conversation in real time in a way that it might not go if you're doing an online kind of exchange. You have multiple people in a room, you have group dynamics, you have people reacting and responding to what they're hearing in the group conversation. And that's an entirely different experience than the online community. I think SHARE 2.0 will be much more of a combination online community and in-person event.

5 Minute Briefing: How has SHARE changed since you first became a member?

Taylor: The demographics of the organization have changed. We used to worry quite a lot that we had too many white males with gray hair. What we're observing now is that there is a much broader diversity in the demographics of the people that are coming to events. That bodes well in the future of the organization in that more people are getting engaged, and I think it also bodes well for the profession.

5 Minute Briefing: Up until a few years ago, SHARE used to mainly be about mainframes, but how has that changed?

Taylor: We absolutely focus on enterprise computing, because there is no such thing a single vendor shop or a single hardware platform shop anymore. Mainframes still are at the heart of running the businesses of many of our largest member companies. But that mainframe doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's very important to help people understand how to deal with the complexity of that entire ecosystem and the complexity of everything that has to interoperate . As I heard someone say, the enterprise data center isn't just mainframe anymore, it's mainframe-plus-plus.

5 Minute Briefing: How has SHARE's relationship with IBM evolved?

Taylor: SHARE has always been an independent organization. We've never been managed by or funded by any vendor. We have broad contributions from the entire vendor community, whether in the SHARE Technology Exchange Expo, in the technical program, or as sponsors. We're grateful for their participation, and it reflects the breadth and heterogeneous kind of environment that we're all working in these days. That said, we continue to have our strategic partnership with IBM. That's been a longstanding successful partnership for both parties and we expect it to continue in that vein for many years to come.

5 Minute Briefing: What should attendees expect when they arrive in Denver?

Taylor: We have a brand new onsite guide that is going to include not only the session agenda on a calendar basis, but for each session we've identified the organizational role that might have an interest in that particular session. For example, if there's something on cloud computing, and understanding the business value of cloud computing, that session would be of interest to architects, virtualization specialists, data center managers, all those roles. We're hoping that kind of segmentation is going to give people another way to view the breadth of content that's there, and try to plot out their path through all those sessions in a way that's going to be more meaningful to the role they play in their organization.