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How to Keep up With Z

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:31 PM


So, you’re working on the mainframe platform. Some of you may have just started working with mainframes, and some of you might be experienced mainframers wanting to know more about specific topics or areas. Where do you start?

In this article, I’ll suggest some helpful resources you can use throughout your mainframe career. Please note that the resources I list in this article won’t necessarily help if you’re just beginning your mainframe journey. While some of the approaches might be relevant to you, there are better venues for helping you get started on the mainframe from scratch. I plan to write a separate article focusing on those resources in the near future.

Here we go with the list (in no particular order):

1.     IBM Z Favorites

IBM Z Favorites, also known as zFavorites, is a collection of links to various IBM Z interest categories, such as products, product documentation, software and solutions, support, and more. If you need anything, zFavorites likely has it!

·       Pro Tip #1: Use the search feature within the zFavorites website. You’ll get results from all domains.

2.     Mainframe-Centric Conferences

·       SHARE. SHARE is an independent, volunteer-run information technology association that provides education, professional networking and industry influence.

·       The Computer Measurement Group (CMG). CMG is a not-for-profit, worldwide organization of IT professionals committed to sharing information and best practices. It focuses on ensuring the efficiency and scalability of IT service delivery to the enterprise through measurement, quantitative analysis, and forecasting.

·       The International Db2 Users Group (IDUG). IDUG is an independent, not-for-profit, user-run organization whose mission is to support and strengthen the information services community by providing the highest quality education and services designed to promote the effective utilization of Db2.

These conferences offer high quality sessions concerning several mainframe topics. Attending these conferences is one of the best ways to keep up with the latest and greatest happenings in the mainframe community. Plus, you get to hear everything straight from the experts.

·       Pro Tip #1: If you’re planning to attend, be sure to get relevant apps for these conferences. For links and other details regarding these apps, check my out earlier article, “Successfully Organize With Mainframe Mobile Apps.”

·       Pro Tip #2: If you want to learn how to reap the fullest benefits from these conferences, check out my article on the SHARE website.

·       Pro Tip #3: One of the benefits of attending these conferences is getting a chance to meet and talk to experts, so be sure to make the most of this.

·       Pro Tip #4: Conferences like SHARE and CMG offer excellent hands-on labs and workshops on various topics. These are particularly useful if you’re a hands-on person, and they’re developed and supervised by experts.

·       Pro Tip #5: If you missed the conferences but still want handouts from different sessions, you can search for these sessions by topic within each specific site.

3.     Mainframe Annual Surveys

Every year, several surveys are conducted across the mainframe community. The results of these surveys offer insights about general trends of mainframe technology. Whether you’re an executive or a technician, you should keep an eye on these surveys.

·       Pro Tip #1: Subscribe or register to download digital copies of these survey results.

·       Pro Tip #2: It’s a good idea to be aware of where the industry is heading. With several myths floating around about mainframe computing, it’s difficult get an unbiased view of the industry. The annual surveys offer just that—real, user-driven views and predictions.  

4.     IBM Redbooks  

IBM Redbooks provide positioning and value guidance, installation and implementation experiences, typical solution scenarios, and step-by-step "how to" guidelines. Redbooks can also reflect working experiences about a specific topic and often include sample code or other support materials.

5.     zNextGen Community

zNextGen is a user-driven community with over 1,000 members across 24 countries. It has new and emerging IBM Z professionals who can help expedite your professional development and skills.

Apart from hosting sessions at SHARE, zNextGen also offers its members virtual monthly sessions on various topics. You can also browse zNextGen’s library of presentations spanning several topics.

·       Pro Tip #1: Join the zNextGen community! It’s free.

·       Pro Tip #2: If you’re an expert and want to share with zNextGen, get in touch with the zNextGen leadership team.

6.     IBM Z Customer Council Events

The IBM Z Customer Council hosts events in various cities featuring resources from subject matter experts. Topics include modernization, migration workshops, security and many others. You can look for these events in a city near you.

7.     Hot Topics

Hot Topics content is written by IBM technical experts—the people who design and write the code. The articles provide insight into products and functionality from a developer's perspective.

8.     Mainframe Magazines, Tech Journals and Mainframe Websites

Some of the best mainframe magazines and tech journals offer excellent articles on the latest and greatest trends in the industry straight from the experts in the field. Here are some suggestions:

·       IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe edition and its accompanying website 

·       Enterprise Executive Magazine and Enterprise Tech Journal

·       Websites like Destination z [[LINK: ]] or SHARE  


9.     IBM developerWorks

IBM developerWorks is a free web-based professional network and technical resource center from IBM for software developers, IT professionals, and students worldwide. Here, you’ll be able to find tutorials, tools and community.


The Author’s Approach

When I’m planning to attend either SHARE or CMG conferences, I look for the sessions, labs or workshops that I might be interested in. If conferences are not imminent then I usually search for handouts from earlier conference proceedings on that topic, either from SHARE or CMG conference proceedings or zNextGen virtual meetups. That gives me a quick start on topics I need.

SHARE, CMG, zNextGen and IDUG conference presentations stem from subject experts who know how to effectively explain concepts. I also like searching on zFavorites for IBM Redbooks or other manuals to get more detailed concept explanations.

To keep up with what’s going around the industry, I also follow various mainframe-centric conferences, I read magazines and annual surveys, and I constantly check zFavorites.

Hemanth Rama, a millennial mainframer, is a senior software engineer at BMC Software. Hemanth has over 13 years of IT experience and he holds three patents. He’s a recipient of the 2018 IBM Z Champion award. Hemanth writes regularly for many popular IT websites and also on his personal blog. He passionately speaks about mainframe technologies at various conferences, symposiums and user groups.