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System i Made Bubble Technology Possible - Websphere Gave it Wings
January 18, 2007 09:00 AM

By Ron Bunn
Ron Bunn
3B Dataservices

Finding the phrase “Bubble Technology” in either a computer or technical dictionary could prove somewhat of a challenge. The following definition is therefore drawn from our own experiences and personal concepts.

Bubble Technology: The concept of loading all program tools and all data into rapid access memory thus providing instant user access to both at any time.

The concept of bubble technology is certainly not new. It was conceived over 25 years ago when 32K of memory was considered normal. The struggle to minimize data record lengths was an everyday challenge and disk access was still painfully slow. Even small program compilations took more than twenty minutes and an accounts receivable aged analysis report for even a small company could take a half hour or more. The general consensus among programmers at that time was, were it possible, bubble technology would provide a fantastic and wonderful means of dramatically increasing computing speeds. Alas, as logical the concept appeared, it was cast aside as being an impossible pipe dream. Becoming reality was thought to be light years away - if ever.

As the years passed computer memory, disk storage, internal processing speeds and disk access speeds increased dramatically. All these factors continued to attribute to the fading of the perceived benefits and requirements of bubble technology. From a speed perspective things appeared great. The general consensus became: ”At these speeds, really, how could things ever be any better?”

Ironically, all the developments in technology which led us to drift away from this all but forgotten concept are the same ones that made it possible to return to and embrace it. The concept has finally “come of age”!

System disk capacities have led us to believe there are virtually no limits on the amount of data we can accumulate or the size and types of records we can assemble. Reality is, being able to store the data and being able to assemble both accurate and meaningful information out of it are two entirely different things. Accuracy is a must and accuracy can only be attained through very high speed, on the fly, editing before the data ever gets written to disk because when we allow users to write unedited data to disk, it is already too late. The requirement for information gleaned from data is virtually instant to its capture. There is no time to “get it right” like the first time and it has been proven a thousand times over that editing after the fact is unreliable and hazardous at best.

We are reaching undreamed capacities on disk storage and new developments in processing speeds. Our reliance on these evolving technologies increases our need for bubble technology concepts. Why? Because we want more and we want it faster.

The struggle to get more for less will never end and bubble technology will play a major role in the fulfillment of this need, particularly here in the North American service sector. As manufacturing and primary distribution tend to move to third world countries, our need to work more accurately, faster and with planned determination has never been greater. Fortunately bubble technology allows for a commonality in program use like we have never before experienced. This means we can have dramatically shorter training curves, faster cross training, lower development costs, decreased programming and maintenance costs, reduced database maintenance costs, increased reporting reliability and support this new tempo of change.

Imagine working with a system having virtually everything you want to view, every action you might want to execute, right before your eyes – always at your immediate beck and call. Imagine the power of the information which could be unleashed by eliminating all reporting date constraints on all the transactions you may have accumulated over the past several years. Imagine all the summary and details you might choose to view, on an instant’s notice. Imagine viewing an account, and being able to create, modify or print any type of document desired, even print one ten years old, by simple selection of an instantly available function or action key. Imagine being able to view all the current activity in the account, all documents, maybe even all at the same instant, be it purchase orders, receiving slips, cheques, payments, deposits, invoices or even journal entries. Then, imagine, by simple command selection, being able to instantly view the entire history of that same account. How about viewing it right down to the minutest detail, even though the account might be comprised of many years of data of multiple transaction types?

This is the power of bubble technology.

This represents just some of the awesome powers unleashed when the concept of bubble technology became reality on i-series servers. In fact, the power of bubble technology and its benefits are far more exciting than knowing or understanding its technical wizardry because the fact is, plain and simple, real magic does not exist. Undoubtedly, bubble technology was made possible as a result of thinking “outside the box”, but its creation came only through an unending commitment to make it happen, not an easy task.

From a technical perspective, fulfillment of the concept of bubble technology was impossible prior to the development of the IBM midrange “e”, now i5 series, server. True 64 bit processing, smart caching techniques, high speed disk access and single level storage are all system i features which made it possible to create and enable the implementation of bubble technology. Any one of these features removed and the concept remains a dream.

The features of i-series not only allowed us to develop a powerful system based on the concept of bubble technology but in turn, bubble technology concepts further enhanced and intensified the awesome power of those i-series characteristics from which it was born. For these, the exact same reasons it was created on the i-series server, it cannot be ported to other platforms. However, browser based interfacing, made possible through IBM’s Websphere Express, allows other infrastructures to take advantage of this powerful server and the concept of bubble technology, powerfully and affordably.

iNfinite Answers, the result of bubble technology, was not engineered as a product for the i-series as we know it today but rather for a mid-range system still yet to come - but it does work wonderfully well today. Development of iNfinite Answers and bubble technology concepts actually began long before system-i became reality. The development team at 3B Dataservices Ltd. knew that the software would not be user functional until the e-series 64 bit platform became a reality. None the less, development continued because we knew that someday it would come and not only did we know that it would come but we also know that whatever we developed would be would remain technically viable for many years into the future due to IBM’s demonstrated commitment to upward portability in mid-range servers. The wonderful part is, even though the system is intended for evolving technologies still many years in the future, we can all take advantage of it today on i5 series servers because i5 server technologies already allow for the employment of bubble technology concepts as well as diversified functionality and reliability. Not only can we move to this powerful concept today in order to take advantage of these powerful characteristics, but we can do it with confidence, knowing the chosen programming technology will not soon be outstripped through emerging technologies. As an added bonus to companies employing this technology, a growing database of user information will do nothing but increase and enhance the value of both the data and the system itself.

Bubble technology concepts represent a powerful long-term impact on the future design and uses of corporate data. New perspectives emerge on how we can now create, store and use our data. It creates an exciting new necessity for timeliness and quality. It places the ownership of corporate data at a heightened level of importance. At the same time it also emphasizes the need for, amplifies the power of, and enhances the options gained through data sharing at all levels within the organization.

Experience with existing customers has revealed an outward blossoming of those who use this power. It is evidenced in their desire to encourage evolutionary, zooming tactics to satisfy the never ending need to find new winning strategies. For smart companies, it is no secret that zooming is key to survival.

Accounting methodology, workflow control, database evaluation, security and fraud detection, all acquire new meaning in a bubble technology environment. New meaning because of the fact that it allows us to develop “Application on Demand” products whereby new user applications are now born through emanation rather than integration. But that’s another exciting concept and another story.

Ron Bunn
3B Dataservices
Mr. Bunn's formal accounting training led him to an eleven year tenure as comptroller for a mid-sized construction company which provided the impetus for launching a career in information systems. His thirty plus years working with IBM midrange platforms and clients representing a wide variety of industries, has afforded him a strong background in systems design and information flow processes.

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