A new suite of communication tools from IBM unites instant messaging with message brokering.
IBM Community Tools allows users to interact with communities, such as customer and partner communities, in a peer-to-peer network.
The suite combines IBMs MQ Event Broker with the enterprise IM capabilities of IBMs Lotus Sametime technology. Web services run under WebSphere Application Server, the Apache application server and DB2 database. Together, the technologies can locate experts, start impromptu discussions, and alert and survey large groups of people in real time, according to IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y.
ICT has been used by IBM eSeries customers and business partners since February. Last week, IBM made ICT available on its AlphaWorks Web site.
Bruce Elgort, manager of information services at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, which is using Sametime 3, said hes intrigued by the technology combination offered by ICT.
Elgort said Sametime is now deep within the "plumbing of the IBM core."
"I think thats a good thing," Elgort said. "It shows IBM does have an interest in Sametime. Its a good thing for Lotus."
Features of ICT include SkillTap, which instantly broadcasts requests for help to the communitys online subscribers; FreeJam, for holding just-in-time discussions with community members; and PollCast, for polling the community and receiving anonymous survey results.
The TeamRing feature enables users to conduct Web presentations; the w3alert feature is for sending alerts to community members, with optional links to Internet pages.
Question Search enables users to search multiple knowledge bases using natural language and to receive rated answers before asking the community for help.
Elgort said he has too many other projects going on now to explore ICT but will keep the new offering in mind for the future.
"Wed like to be able to integrate IM deep within our other systems, not just other Lotus applications and Web pages," Elgort said.