Share Sessions Scrutinize IBM

The head of the largest IBM user group uses this week's conference in New York to put the vendor's technology into context

August 17, 2004

2 Min Read
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NEW YORK CITY IT pros attending Share, the IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) semi-annual user group conference, know that technology's future and IBM's marketing both contain a fair amount of mystery (see Share in the Fun With IBM).

"We always have trends and direction sessions, so that people who are looking ahead can see what's coming, [but] if you dwell on that too much, you'll spin your wheels too much on something that never hits the street," says Share President Ken Ebbe, who by day works on IT for the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Systems and State Contracts department. "IBM's no different than anybody else. You have the marketing saying 'Here's what it is,' and then you have the reality of 'How does it affect me?' " he says.

More than 2,000 IT professionals are expected to attend about 800 scheduled technical sessions here [Ed. note: So there will be at least two people in each session]. While some will seek primers on IBM's latest gear, others will hope to wrap their heads around IBM's more high-brow technology concepts.

The new products up for discussion here include z/VM 5.1 (mainframe virtualization, shipping in late September), plus the latest versions of the DB2 and IMS databases, Ebbe says.

And, to aid understanding around concepts like autonomic (self-healing) and on-demand (utility) computing, Share hosts "meet the developers" sessions, where users can give feedback. It's sad but true that even when developers agree with users, their influence on final products is limited, says Ebbe, adding that self-healing and utility computing are really just rehashed mainframe concepts.Another controversial topic this year is AIX – that is, IBM's "Advanced Interactive Executive" proprietary version of the Unix operating system. Given all fuss IBM has made over Linux, is AIX on its last legs? "Difficult to call. We have heard from no one that would officially say so," Ebbe said. More and more, CIOs aren't too concerned about the operating system, but for those who are, Share this week will debut an AIX Technical Steering Committee, he said. The group's first meeting is private, he said.

A group called the Enterprise IT Management Symposium is also new this year, as is a Share initiative to offer year-round education over the Web, Ebbe said.

Other conference business will include picking a Share president to succeed Ebbe, who hands in his scepter and bejeweled tiara on Friday. The most likely choice is Robert Rosen, an IT executive with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Rosen, in fact, is the only candidate for the election, which takes place this week. He's clearly a lock, barring a last-minute nomination from conference attendees.

— Evan Koblentz, Senior Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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