New Technology, New Social Networking Services, and New Features Abound

Analysis of News Events
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While advanced new processor technology is relatively easy to understand, new social networking software may take a shift in attitude.


We have several stories of interest this week: IBM's forthcoming Power7 chip and the company's upgrade path for Power 570 and 595 servers; Twitter's plans for a geolocation API; and a cloud-based microblogging enterprise collaboration suite that's both secure and free. We hope your interests take you to all these places.


IBM says it plans to provide an upgrade path from the current 12X I/O Power 570 and Power 595 servers to the new Power7 processor expected to ship in mid-2010. For the Power 595, the upgrade is planned as a "simple replacement of the processor books and two system controllers" within the existing frame, according to IBM. The upgrade path is similar for Power 570. IBM notes that enterprises with multiple systems with PowerVM Live Partition Mobility may use this function to maintain application availability when upgrading during normal business hours.


The Power7 chip started a little buzz this week at Stanford following IBM's presentation at the Hot Chips conference. Power7 will support IBM i, the company's AIX UNIX-based operating system, and Linux, both natively or in x86 translation. The new chip will have eight cores, each capable of four simultaneous multithreading (SMT) threads. The new chip will have a higher performance at a lower frequency than the Power6 chip.


SMT will reduce the wait periods currently needed until resources free up, and the processor will include out-of-order execution, something that was in earlier IBM chips but not Power6. The feature allows waiting instructions to be skipped until they are ready for processing.


Power7 is reported to have increased memory bandwidth for a total of 100 GBps per chip handled by dual DDR3 memory controllers. Integrated scalability ports total 32 sockets with 360 GBps symmetric multiprocessing bandwidth per chip. There is also 32 MB of shared Level 3 cache in each chip, the first L3 cache in a commercial processor to use embedded DRAM, requiring only one transistor per device versus six for Static Random Access Memory (SRAM).

Tweeting Spatially

Twitter announced last week that it will soon start allowing users to stamp their postings with exact location data. External developers will have access to the data through a new geolocation API. With the new API, developers can design applications that provide location, date, and time with each tweet. Theoretically, you could map a person as they travel and tweet. Twitter had a form of geotagging earlier, but it was merely a text field that users could fill in with anything they liked or leave blank.


In reading up on several free enterprise collaboration suites, I came across one called CubeTree that offers not just a free trial, but is free for life--at least the Basic service. The Professional service is $3 per user per month, and the Enterprise version is $5 per user per month. This secure cloud-based service is truly amazing and has something for everyone.


In order to really get into social networking, you must first see the benefit of sharing information and then you must get over your preconceived ideas about privacy. You know how young people today post all kinds of wild stuff on MySpace that you wouldn't be caught dead sharing with your best friend? Well, the whole idea behind collaboration is to share information. Only when you get over your fear of sharing information can you benefit from what others have to offer.


It's sort of like free trade…I think. Perhaps it's like learning to float in water: you have to lie back and relax. I'm still sort of paranoid about sharing anything that I don't have to, but looking at these new business tools, I'm beginning to see what they are trying to do. They clearly are trying to tap the power of the group. From the management classes I took years ago, I know that a decision by the group usually is far better than a decision by even the best person in the group. We proved it repeatedly in class, solving difficult problems. If you share your thinking at work and people can see your thoughts and read your exchanges with others online--and comment as you go--the level of decision-making is likely to improve, as will everyone's sense of participation and ownership. Most companies today recognize the relationship between collaboration and productivity.


CubeTree is only a little over three months old, but clearly the folks who designed this knew what they were doing and spent some time building it. Apart from the features found in most consumer social-networking sites (such as user profiles, follow/follower news feeds, micro-blogging, etc.), CubeTree offers enterprise collaboration tools such as wikis, file sharing, polls, goal tracking, and group creation and communication. These terms will mean more as you read up on the subject. CubeTree has a very easy-to-understand explanation of the whole social networking process, and the free individual service gives you a chance to try it at no cost--and no risk. For those of you who are very familiar with Facebook and social networking, the challenge is to apply the tools within a business context.


Social networking is the wave of the future in business because ultimately it means a more productive work force, something we have to perfect in order to compete globally. While CubeTree offers a free solution to get your feet wet in the area of social networking, many IBMers will look to Lotus for their eventual solution, either in the cloud or as a desktop client. CubeTree appears to offer good security, but we have all read about the security issues that Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook have experienced the past few months. Lotus' claim to fame, of course, is that its solutions are secure. Hopefully, CubeTree will be able to make its claims stick as time goes on. After all, you certainly can't beat the price.