Twitter from an AS/400? Kisco Lets You Do It
April 28, 2009 Alex Woodie
Think Twitter is just for tweens and people without enough real work to do? Think again. Kisco Information Systems last week unveiled a new product that turns Twitter into a communications and systems management tool for the IBM Power Systems server (AS/400). Kisco’s new product, called SNDTWEET, introduces several practical real-world business uses for the new social networking service that is sweeping the nation like a nasty virus.
If you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve noticed that everybody seems to be all atwitter over Twitter. For those uninitiated or over 30, Twitter is all about answering the question “What are you doing right now?” Users will often update their twitter message throughout the day as they tackle different tasks (note: the response “I’m updating my Twitter message” is not an appropriate Twitter message). Upon reading the Twitter message, the user’s friends, family, or co-workers can send short messages, known as “Tweets,” back to the user, thereby completing the communicative loop.
Tweets are short and sweet–the limit is 140 characters–and are displayed on the user’s Twitter.com Web page. Alternatively, Tweets can also be transmitted over the Short Message Service (SMS), a messaging protocol that is commonly used on mobile phones (and also used by many systems and message management tools on the System i). The SMS component, along with an open API that was used by Kisco’s developer, gave Twitter the tools necessary to become a business tool and not just the latest Web 2.0 fashion accessory.
With SNDTWEET, Kisco has basically packaged a Twitter client for the 5250 interface (it will also work with IBM’s iSeries Access via SNDTWEET’s remote command capability, or other i OS applications through Kisco’s CL command). The software requires the user to have an account with the service at Twitter.com (accounts are free). Users simply enter their Twitter user name and password to begin using SNDTWEET after the product’s installation.
SNDTWEET is restricted to one-way communications at the moment. Only outgoing messages are displayed from the person (or machine) doing the Tweeting; there is no way to respond to Twitter messages posted with SNDTWEET, thereby preventing your gregarious programmers and outgoing operators from turning the System i server into an electronic chatterbox.
So how can a button-downed, business-oriented System i shop make use of SNDTWEET? Kisco president Rich Loeber has come up with several real-world scenarios.
First, SNDTWEET can be used to enhance communication among team members working on IT projects, especially those located in different geographical locations. When somebody completes a work task or identifies an issue that needs to be resolved, it can be immediately shared with all team members.
“What Twitter brings to the party is the ability to easily send one message to multiple recipients in a single operation,” Loeber says via e-mail, a more primitive form of electronic communication. “Also, Twitter can forward the tweets to a variety of devices, such as a cell phone or PDA, so the user doesn’t have to be tied to their PC.”
The second use case for SNDTWEET turns the System i itself into a Tweeter (and the rest of us into hungry chicks begging for another worm….er, Tweet message). By adding SNDTWEET to CL programs, Loeber says, administrators can use the software to automatically broadcast notifications to administrators and operators when a batch program has finished processing, or when an error is encountered.
Similarly, integration with CL programs or triggers could allow admins and operators to receive Twitter notifications when a critical file is created or updated, or when a message hits the system operator message queue, thereby giving users instantaneous insight into the state of critical System i processes or problems that could lead to downtime.
Lastly, Loeber foresees SNDTWEET potentially being used by the marketing departments of System i shops to keep customers abreast of the latest promotions and what’s going on with their vendor.
With this first release, it takes a little bit of manual CL coding to integrate SNDTWEET into System i processes. As the product gains traction, Loeber expects to build message monitoring and systems management features into future releases of the product.
SNDTWEET costs $295 per logical partition (LPAR). Licenses for multiple LPARs can be obtained for $495. For more information, visit www.kisco.com.