IBM Releases New Workplace Collaboration/Portal Package
September 6, 2005 Dan Burger
In marketing lingo, IBM‘s Workplace gets described as “the next-generation front-end for end-user computing.” Although most Four Hundred Stuff readers are probably familiar with the Workplace brand name, a clear understanding of this software portfolio and its benefits remain out of reach. To put a better handle on it, you need to see it as a single work environment in which you can access applications, information, business processes, and people. Another way to say it is the combination of collaboration and portal software in one package.
Last week IBM opened the door to another piece in its Web-based collaborative software portfolio. It’s called Software Solution for On Demand Workplace, and it includes a collaboration platform and a multi-platform portal packaged with features that position it between entry-level collaboration and enterprise-level portal offerings from Big Blue.
The list of user benefits begins with the way these tools are packaged and supposedly the way they are priced. The packaging looks like a good fit between the basics provided by individual Workplace products, but IBM hasn’t released its pricing information. At this point prospective buyers may have some negotiating power as IBM looks to increase the awareness and understanding of the Workplace brand and promote its technological capabilities, which include useful features such as instant messaging, team space services, Web conferencing, document services, Web content management, learning services, templates and forms, and productivity tools. Most importantly, all these tasks can be accomplished and all these resources can be accessed from one interface.
As a tool, Workplace functions within the WebSphere Portal Enable for Multiplatforms portal environment. Workplace relies on portal technology to provide the application integration, framework, and the content and collaboration services that allow people to connect with information, applications, business processes. In the process of developing this back-end to front-end integration, IBM has–over the course of the past several years–re-architected its software portfolio using open standards (J2EE infrastructure) and a service oriented architecture (SOA). It has also moved toward a component software model, which, IBM says, allows a pick-and-choose method of building solutions from various software brands in order to address the specific business problems of companies that have chosen the WebSphere and Java development strategy. This is one of the benefits of an SOA.
IBM designed Workplace to put the focus on business processes by streamlining business information accessibility. In other words, it improves the capabilities of people interacting with business processes. But additionally it improves their interaction with other employees, as well as partners, suppliers, and customers. It also simplifies–by reducing the number of tools and systems to one–employee access to content, applications, and processes.
Software Solution for On Demand Workplace (not one of IBM’s best product names) fits into the lineup between WebSphere Portal Extend and Workplace Services Express. IBM recommends Portal Extend when collaborative capabilities require a deeper level of integration and functionality, when managing both J2EE and Domino platforms, or if additional search and analysis features are needed. Workplace Services Express lacks features such as team collaboration on projects, document management, and portal access to business applications and content, but could be a better fit for certain organizations.
The entire portfolio of IBM Workplace collaboration products includes IBM Workplace Messaging, IBM Workplace Team Collaboration, IBM Workplace Documents, and IBM Workplace Collaborative Learning. All these products are collectively called “IBM Workplace collaboration products.”
IBM’s minimum server requirements for iSeries users begin with a Model 810 two-way running at 750 MHz with 4GB memory, or an i5 server running at 1.1 GHz. These basic requirements are for the default configuration with no external LDAP directories and databases.
Also to be taken into account is the server disk space requirements when installing WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Portal, the HTTP server, Workplace Collaboration Services, and the IBM Workplace Collaboration Services databases. This combination requires a minimum of 17GB of free disk space, and this total does not include the disk space required to install the database software.
There will also be server-side network connectivity requirements to consider. The latest version of OS/400, which is V5R3 (also known as i5OS), is necessary.
IBM has not released pricing information, but the product is available now.