IBM announced Monday a tool that gives users the ability to broadcast messages to thousands of users instantly at the same time.
Think of it as instant messaging on steroids.
IBM Community Tools is a messaging client, currently hosted on an iSeries i820, that combines the technologies from WebSphere MQ Event Broker, Lotus Sametime, WebSphere Application Server and DB2.
"It's taking the best pieces of these technologies and integrating them into a powerful messaging tool," said Todd Grube, technical support marketing manager for the IBM eServer iSeries.
IBM demonstrated the technology Monday during the PartnerWorld conference and expo in New Orleans. The new tools are currently only available to members of the iSeries Nation community. IBM's iSeries Nation is a 2-year old community group made up of more than 50,000 iSeries customers, business partners and ISVs. iSeries Nation membership is free.
iSeries Nation customers can download the code necessary to activate the technology from IBM's Web site.
According to Grube, IBM plans to bring Community Tools to the rest of its eServer family, although neither a rollout plan nor a timetable has been determined.
The messaging system was designed to let users send instant messages to other iSeries customers, hold just-in-time discussions with community members, poll team members and other users, create instant Web presentations and send instant alerts to members.
For example, an iSeries customer in Italy can instantly "ping" questions, alerts or ideas to thousands of other iSeries community members and get real-time, instant message feedback from peers worldwide who have agreed to share their expertise.
At the heart of the messaging system is a filter, or profile, which allows users to indicate only those applications, questions or areas of expertise that they want to receive messages on.
"This could be a real significant tool," said John Brandt, vice president of technical services with iStudio400.com, a Texas-based consulting firm.
Brandt, also a Search400.com expert, said Community Tools could actually replace forums. Whereas users wait on average five to six hours for a response from a forum, finding an answer to a question using this new messaging client could be instantaneous.
"As a project manager, if I had a tool like this, I could poll everyone on my team in 60 seconds without having to get up from my desk," Brandt said. "What's that worth?"
One of the most helpful features, said Brandt, is the ability for the system to store already-asked questions and answers. A user could search the database for the question to see whether it had already been put out there. If it had been, there would be no need to broadcast the question again.
"It's really limited now," Brandt said. "But it looks like this could really be a breakthrough [in instant messaging] if people will get involved in it."
This announcement is part of an ongoing effort, led by iSeries general manager and former Lotus chief Al Zollar, to deliver integrated hardware and software tools on the iSeries platform, the company said.
Last month, the newly appointed Zollar announced major enhancements to the iSeries, including new hardware upgrades, such as on-demand capabilities, and the integration of several software products, such as WebSphere Express and Sametime.
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