IBM outlines collaboration roadmap

update Recognizing companies have generations of IT users with different usages, IBM introduces "killer app" to up enterprise-wide collaboration, exec reveals.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

update SINGAPORE--IBM, through its Lotus products, is looking to promote smarter business processes with an integrated mail client that encompasses social media features.

Big Blue is hoping this mail client will be the "killer app" that will drive enterprises to embrace social media, noted Timothy Birdsall, director of IBM Lotus Software Asia-Pacific, during his keynote address at the company's Business and Technology Forum held here Tuesday.

He said every organization will have different generations of IT users who interact with technology differently. For instance, the "attachment generation" will stick steadfastly to basic functions such as telephony and e-mail, while the "social generation" interfaces with embedded collaborations and communication through social media such as Facebook.

Birdsall noted: "Organizations need to be able to support all these generations in order to have more efficient business processes and decision-making capabilities."

Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines, the IBM executive went on to explain the integrated e-mail platform is part of the company's Project Vulcan vision toward the "future of collaboration". This philosophy entails bringing all disparate component parts such as IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino, which make up the company's e-mail client, and Connections, which helps put social media features into a secure business format, and piecing them together over time.

"This really brings efficiency into the enterprise space," he said.

Furthermore, Lotus Notes V8, which forms the "dashboard" for all the other components, is now built within an open source, Java-based platform, named "Eclipse", that allows third-party apps to be created and run in tandem with it, he added.

John Mullins, a business unit executive of IBM Lotus Software Asean, who sat in on the Birdsall interview, pointed out that the software developer kit (SDK) for Lotus Notes's plug-in architecture is "available in the public domain". Mullins added that companies can either implement IBM's pre-built applications or collaborate with Big Blue to create "assets that it can own".

Server update
IBMers were also on hand to provide updates on two of the company's server products: the eX5 family of servers, which was revealed on Mar. 2 at the CeBIT exhibition in Germany, and its Unix servers running on IBM's Power processor.

Roland Hagen, worldwide vice president for IBM's System x, noted that its flagship four-socket System x3850 X5 server, which can scale up to 8 sockets and 1.6 terabytes in DRAM, is currently shipping worldwide. The other 2 X5 systems will be available "later in the second quarter of 2010", he added. Hagen noted that these products will be available in Asia at the same time, and the company is already taking orders for them.

"In the x-86 business, time-to-market is critical so when we announce products, you can be sure we will ship within 30 to 60 days. We do this on a consistent, worldwide basis," he said.

As for its Unix server business, John Vitkus, director of growth markets for IBM's Power Systems, said the company currently holds 43 percent share in the growth markets arena, and citing figures from research firm IDC, added that it held 39 percent overall market share in the third quarter of 2009.

This dominance is seen in Singapore, too, where IBM holds 54 percent share in the Unix market, according to Cheah Saw Pheng, general manager for IBM's systems and technology group Singapore, who also attended the briefing.

Big Blue is also gaining at the expense of Sun Microsystems, now owned by Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard, Cheah said. She pointed out that in 2009, 90 percent of "over 500 customers" that migrated to IBM were Sun and HP customers.

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