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Aug 27, 2013

IBM zBC12 Takes Center Stage at SHARE in Boston

By Mike Westholder

Just weeks after IBM announced the new zEnterprise BC12 (zBC12) and the zEnterprise EC12 GA2 as well as many other enhancements to System z technologies, the latest addition to the mainframe line was the star of SHARE in Boston. The zBC12 was the centerpiece of keynotes, technical sessions and the expo hall, generating considerable buzz around the event Aug. 11-16 at Hynes Convention Center.

“Even some of our hands-on lab sessions use the actual machine that’s running on the trade show floor,” noted SHARE President Brian Peterson. Being the first place to learn about and get firsthand access to the latest and greatest IBM technology is nothing new for SHARE, however. It’s one of the many benefits its members and conference attendees enjoy, he said.

Offering unique insights into the zBC12 were co-presenters Greg Lotko, IBM vice president and business line executive, System z, and Kevin Barber, associate director of the Medication Management Center at the College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona. In their keynote, Barber discussed an analytics application his organization developed to help pharmacists and doctors be more effective in providing medications to their patients.

Initially, Barber ran the application on an Intel technology-based server but as users of his solution grew exponentially, he had to move it to a more scalable, robust environment, Peterson recounted. As the number of customers exploded, Barber shifted from platform to platform, eventually moving to the zBC12, which could meet capacity demands now and into the future, at an approachable price point. The ability to start at a modest entry point and scale extremely high to meet growing business demand, without changing the architecture, is extremely attractive.

“It’s one of those stories where it’s great to a have customer proof point to make real,” Peterson said. “That’s what makes it compelling.” 

Those types of stories, offered in sessions or personal conversations, are what make conferences like SHARE so valuable, he added. “There’s nothing like talking to someone face to face, in a hallway or over coffee or in a session. I hear story after story of people who have talked to someone at SHARE and was able to go back to their work and solve a problem.”

Peterson, himself, noted one case where he saved the company he worked for hundreds of thousands of dollars based on alternative approaches he learned engaging with someone at a SHARE conference. “That’s one of the drivers for many people--tangible results they can bring back to their organizations. If you watch people here, you see them talking to each other, engaged.”

And there were many people to see at SHARE in Boston, he noted. “I believe we’re seeing the largest attendance in the last three years.” He attributed the attendance numbers to the recent IBM announcement and improvements in the economy. “Not only do we have more people involved face to face, we have more participating with newer ways like SHARE Live—all to the good,” Peterson noted. Offered for the past three or four years, SHARE Live allows subscribers to view select sessions remotely via as they happen or after the fact (for about six months). “It’s a way for those who can’t travel to share in the conference experience and get premium content,” he added.

 In addition to the larger crowd, its makeup appears to be changing as well, Peterson noted. Over the past few years, generally, the attendees are younger. “One of the most optimistic things I’ve observed—it’s very much of mix,” he said. “I think people who come to our events get a lot out of it. We’re picking up new people. The tenor is changing a bit; it’s a little younger, which brings in new perspectives.”

“There’s an extraordinary sense of community with SHARE,” Peterson said. “All of these amazing individuals do the tangible work of putting up the next show and moving the industry forward through user input. They do all of that and have been since SHARE started in 1955.”

Next up, those volunteers will be preparing for the next SHARE conference to be held March 9-14, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif.


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