IBM's VM and VSE Technical Conference (May 12-15, 1998)

On May 12-15, 1998, IBM held its premier VM/ESA* and VSE/ESA* Technical Conference at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nevada.

Conference presentations

Link to some of the conference presentations which have been made available.

Conference Summary

This was our third combined VM and VSE Technical Conference in the US. In addition to the 4 days of elective sessions, an optional extra day of workshops was included.

Overall conference summary

For many attendees, this conference is their single shot for a year (or two) for their technical education. It was clear to me that our attendees are there to learn. One might think that the close proximity of the casino might draw from the sessions, but that did not seem to be the case for our attendees.


We're always glad when the seats are filled with people there to hear our message. There were over 500 roaming around, including the 50 IBMers and customers were from outside of the United States.

Conference activities

In addition to a general session and breakout topics, attendees were treated to this activities:
  • Vendor and IBM expo & reception (during two lunches, two evenings)
  • Open House sponsored by VM lab to encourage attendee interaction
  • Weekend workshops by Richard and Chuck for VM and also NTS for VSE for Saturday night stay-overs.

Open House Summary

What's an open house? An informal first night activity open to those affiliated with the conference. We requested the use of a large suite for the evening (no it was not my room but there was a funny story about that. Ask me sometime) & provided hors d'oeuvres and beverages. Guests were greeted by Denny R, Chris C, and me, were asked to sign in (required in order for expense to be reimbursed), and received their neck straps and VM or VSE pins..

The VM lab sponsored the open house in order to encourage interaction among attendees, presenters and exhibitors. We tried it on a smaller scale in Kansas City based on attendee feedback requesting some sort of mixer to meet colleagues. Approx 150 came through and we received many positive comments and thank-you's throughout the week.

General Session Summary

Joe Harris (WSC mgr) and Susan Puglia (VP S/390) provided brief presentations about S/390 announcements and future. Some comments about there being no Q&A time (it was intentional given the conference schedule). Susan mentioned that Dutchess County Community College has put together a S/390 course/curriculum. Susan along with Brian Walton (IBM Director of S/390 Medium Size Ent.) dined with some of the attendees.

Breakout Summary

Over the course of 4 days, there was one general session and then 146 breakout sessions on VM, VSE or General Interest to both VM and VSE. For each session time, there were 8 choices.

VM topics focused on VM/ESA V2R3.0 - product update, individual sessions on Java & NetRexx, Performance, Open, OVVM, Pipelines, TCP/IP, Web serving, and Year 2000.

This is the second year in a row that Mike Cowlishaw (IBM Fellow) squeezed the VM conference into his schedule. Many of my hardworking colleagues from the VM lab treated customers to technical presentations for which we are most grateful, including: Alan Altmark, Bill Bitner, Christine Casey, Michael Donovan, John Franciscovich, Les Geer, George Madl, Will Roden, and Romney White. Several customers in addition to folks from IBM support organizations - ITSO, WSC, and Medium Size S/390 team (including Gary Eheman) contributed technical presentations, exhibits, and workshops.

VM Platform Directions & Discussion Session

The main focus of the conference is technical education, so we don't want to monopolize the precious education time. So, we wait until later in the week and have one "roundtable" session. George Madl, IBM VM Platform Manager, briefly discussed VM investment directions then opened the floor for discussion. These are the topics/questions that we brought home with us:
  1. It was pointed out that CMS seemed conspicuously missing from George's 2nd foil of investment areas. CMS is a reason that many customers have VM and is a growth area for some.
  2. Help us customers to understand what a "business case" means to IBM. (This was in reference to requirements and helping IBM to understand customer requirements, e.g ADSM, and put things in terms of a business case, not just technical capability.)
  3. CICS on VM. Why or why not. Would like to use web interfaces with CICS. If VSE had an MQ Server then it (CICS interfaces) would work.
  4. DB2 runs better with VM (runs V=F).
  5. Why was it decided not to do VM parallel sysplex support? Group discussion - want a) OS/390 synergy, b) sysplex timer support c) RACF db coupling for guests 4) VSAM
  6. Request that IBM (executives) and others who are presenting futures focus on what IBM will be doing. At some other customer meetings, "What people heard was that native VM functions were done. The focus of discussion was on that IBM was "NOT" providing. Tell us what IBM will be providing."
  7. Expressed concern about IBM Education and Training, number of VM instructors.
  8. Customer interprets that the IBM emphasis is to move applications from VM or that they want some tool. However, he thinks VM is the best platform (for some of these apps).
  9. Regarding return on investment: customer compared VM to another IBM operating system platform but remarked that that VM turns a profit.
  10. Need compilers working better for OS/390 coexistence.
  11. Customer felt that IBM is in reactive mode for VM.
  12. Take the tack that VM developed many of these other innovations (or that they began on VM), and then got ported to other platforms.
  13. Connectivity course. There is no training available, no one to teach. (customer) Take it on the road!
  14. Do you ever invite upper IBM management -- hold exec's feet to the fire at conference?
  15. Make the Dutchess County Community College S/390 course available.
  16. No conference CD? Is it just the VM and VSE conference that is not providing it this year? (IBM Education and Training decided not to offer them this year, instead providing a large handout area.)
  17. Image is key, regardless of traditional business measurements

And in case you wondered why it seemed that there were no questions on ADSM this time, it was because George mentioned it earlier before the open discussion.

Expo Summary

The US expo typically has a good turnout, good layout, and good attendance. Some of our vendors also had exhibited in Frankfurt. Our exhibitors included these vendor/developers or business partners:
Barnard Software Intelliware Connectivity Syst.
Polaris Communications Decision Technology Inc. Unicom
Velocity Software Cross Access Corp. Sterling Software, INc
ASCENT Solutions Landmark Systems VM Assist, Inc
ViaServ Inc. Safe Software, Inc. Firesign Computer Corp
Aonix + Beyond Sw Automated Migration Svcs Mainline Inform. Sys.
Software Diversified Sv Phoenix Software Intl. Software Pursuits
JDS Microprosessing PLATINUM technology BrainPower Intn'l
Data 21 BI Moyle Associates

On opening day I thought it was strange that one of our vendors had paid for a session but didn't show. Didn't give it much thought until I saw the notice that she had been in an accident and would have her handouts available at her booth. And, there she was across the expo from us...with crutches and wheel chair. Now, that's dedication.

Our IBM Island also included S/390 Multiprise, VSE exhibits, Education and Training, DB2 Control center, Marty Ziskind with his P/390 (and chocolate fondue machine), and Ted Posner ( S/390 Service Update Facility). The VM exhibits included: Richard Lewis's MQSeries demo running off the Multiprise, Gary Eheman provided both VM Network Station Manager demo and Java and NetRexx demo running on his P/390. Having the Live VM home page allowed us to show folks the extensive site available to them.

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