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Column: SHARE 2006 reporter's notebook

This week reported from the SHARE user group meeting in Seattle where mainframers kicked the tires on virtualization, learned about ITIL and tried on the management role.

SEATTLE -- This year the mainframe user group SHARE rolled out a new initiative to bring forth a more polished mainframe professional. The organization brought in psychologist Vicky Jo Varner to help propeller-heads tap into their inner code in order to better groom them for a business management role.

Speaking of groom -- I'm talking to you Capt. Lou Albano look-alike in front of me in the registration line.

z/VM 5.2 implementation
Other sessions were devoted to more tech-oriented topics, for example the implementation of the new mainframe virtualization software, z/VM 5.2. Martha McConaghy, systems, network and operations manager at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y had experienced some problems with the implementation, but was quick to blame the problem on bad karma due to building the college on an Indian burial ground.

Baldor Electric's director of information services, Mark Shackleford, had a much easier implementation. The Fort Smith, Ark.-based manufacturer of industrial electric motors had no hiccups in the implementation.

"Cleanest ESP [early ship program] ever," Shackleford said. "I've participated in plenty of ESP's from SAP and other vendors, and this was the cleanest install by far."

Making plans for ITIL
Malcolm Fry, a member of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Advisory Group (IAG), which is responsible for overseeing Version 3 of the core ITIL publications helped illuminate the best practices concepts to attendees.

The issue has been a tough one for IT pros to wrap their minds around. "We're implementing ITIL right now. It seems like a bunch of different people telling you different things," said attendee Scott Sober, team coordinator at insurance firm State Farm. "Even the CMM [IT Service Capability Maturity Model] -- I've heard people talk about it, but no one explains how it's all related."

Sober said Fry's presentation helped him pull the ideas together, and it might be the key to moving forward with his company's ongoing project.

Fry explained that ITIL is basically seven books that help make the business case for running an orderly IT organization. It's about offering metrics for measuring operations, balancing performance against accuracy with repeatable results.

Fry listed several reasons ITIL projects fail:

  • Lack of management commitment.
  • Spending too much time on complicated process diagrams in the beginning and not having enough time at the end.
  • Not assigning process owners.
  • Allowing departmental demarcation.
  • Failing to maintain momentum: ITIL projects starts off with all of the momentum, but after six months people lose interest and start dropping off

    "IT has this bizarre belief that flair comes with imagination. Flair comes from discipline," Fry said. "You think the symphony orchestra picks up instruments and just plays for a bit?"

    Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, Site Editor

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