Messaging Technology for iSeries Customers, Business Partners Announced
by Dan Burger
With its annual PartnerWorld conference as a backdrop, IBM is introducing its iSeries customers to Web-based technology that it says will improve communications and collaborative capabilities with iSeries Community Tools. But, perhaps more important, the Community Tools that IBM announces today will showcase the iSeries as technologically advanced and particularly capable of playing an important role in the multiple operating environments many companies use these days.
IBM may be calling the offering it is announcing today Community Tools, but it is carefully avoiding labeling it as a product. Instead, it is being described as a sharing of technology--an application suite for community-based problem-solving tools that allows iSeries customers and business partners to more easily exchange knowledge and technical skills. It will rely on the 50,000-member iSeries Nation user group to gain acceptance and build its value as a collaboration device.
Through Community Tools, iSeries Nation members will have additional methods to access other members, including IBM business partners and independent software vendors (ISVs), who are logged on at any given time.
The functionality within Community Tools has been used effectively within IBM's iSeries division for some time, say sources at the company. The external packaging for use by the iSeries Nation members began taking shape about six months ago, they say. While other server divisions within IBM also use this technology internally, the iSeries line is the only one to roll it out for customers and business partners. The iSeries Nation, being a large collection of iSeries users whose message is largely controlled by IBM, makes it a natural place to introduce Community Tools. IBM could extend the offering to COMMON and other interested iSeries parties in the future, if this plan pans out.
The development for internal use of these tools was brought forth by the Web Ahead research and development team, based in the company's Southbury, Connecticut, facility. Web Ahead is chiefly responsible for developing Internet technologies at IBM. The Web Ahead team is the same group that developed projects like the alphaWorks developers' site and the highly publicized Web sites for the Olympic games a few years ago.
Behind the scenes, IBM is running Community Tools on an iSeries Model 820 and using the messaging technology in IBM's MQ Event Broker, with the instant messaging capabilities of Lotus Sametime, and Web services running on WebSphere Application Server and DB2/400.
The promotional value of demonstrating that the iSeries is capable of running multiple modern applications is likely to be as important to the iSeries division as the enhanced communications value it offers its users. Among other things, IBM will use this example to more vividly distinguish the capabilities of an iSeries over the old AS/400, and perhaps gain recognition as a leader in new technology. The use of the Integrated xSeries Server (IxS), Linux-based partitions, partial processor logical partitions, and dynamic load balancing across those partitions all show off iSeries capabilities for running multiple operating environments. It is a hybrid but balanced and connected approach, IBM reasons, that customers might take in developing their own solutions.
Community Tools are also valuable because, as part of the process of bringing all of this technology together, IBM had to go through the learning exercise of making WebSphere MQ actually work with Domino, and Domino work with WebSphere, and WebSphere work with Linux and DB2/400. It's one thing to say that these things can be hooked together, but it is quite another to do it and to prove it.
Members of the iSeries Nation looking to take advantage of the messaging technology will be able to download a client to their desktops. The client will have a user ID and password field that allows users to be authenticated and enable instant messaging and additional capabilities that IBM refers to as virtual teaming.
Community Tools will include the following features:
The IBM-sponsored iSeries Nation Web site is hosting a chat session called "Virtual Teaming: IBM Community Tools for eSever iSeries," on Tuesday, February 18, at 11:00 a.m. EST, with speakers Wajid Ahmed and Judy Warren, explaining the virtues of Community Tools. To register for this chat, go to the iSeries Nation Web site. PartnerWorld, IBM's annual meeting of its business partners, is scheduled to run this week in New Orleans, and Community Tools is one of the things IBM will be showing off there, along with the new iSeries lineup.
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