I had the opportunity to speak at the SHARE Conference in Anaheim, CA
last week. For those not aware of this conference, it is one of the longest-running technical conferences and offers attendees the opportunity to learn about new and interesting ways to take advantage of their mainframe systems, in conjunction with the myriad of other computing systems in their enterprise. The conference is membership-driven and is held twice a year in the United States. Not only do the attendees learn from the sessions, they also get the opportunity to network with their peers from other organizations, compare notes, trade techniques, and learn from one another.
I have spoken at the conference in the past on a variety of topics ranging from the z/OS LDAP server and how to configure and use LDAP directory servers, to security offerings from IBM Tivoli and how to use them alongside or to enhance mainframe security administration, to topics concerning enterprise architecture and software development. Every time I attend, I find it refreshing that the attendees bring with them a fierce desire to learn new technologies and how to apply them to their organization.
At this Spring's conference, I presented on three topics:
- Application Development for z/OS - a discussion around the latest and greatest technology for writing and maintaining applications that run on z/OS systems, covering those applications run in CICS, IMS, DB2, or batch, and also programming languages such as COBOL, PL/I, C/C++, Java, JCL, and REXX.
- Application Modernization - a presentation about application portfolio management and application modernization and how these two processes are cyclical in nature and linked to one another.
- Multi-platform Application Development - a forward-looking presentation about where application programmers and application development teams are going to have to get to in terms of being nimble and agile in the future. The premise for this talk is that application programming teams are generally able to pick up and use new programming languages quickly. What impedes their progress is the time it takes to learn platform-specific tools and runtime environments. To the extent that application development tools mitigate or remove the need to learn new tools and environments, teams can become effective and efficient moving from project to project and platform to platform.
The next time you hear that there is a skills gap for mainframe application development, think again. Computer programmers and computer scientists today are inquisitive to learn and use new environments (new to them at least). And developers are now able to choose their tool-set in such a way that it is applicable and supporting of multiple runtime environments and multiple languages simultaneously. Because of this, these developers can quickly pick up programming languages they have not used in the past and be effective developers of applications running on a wide variety of systems. This means that mainframe application development skills are within every organization's reach, as long as those teams are enabled appropriately.