IBM Suspension and Intel Collaboration

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The new partnership between IBM and virtual-world-builder Forterra Systems Inc. won't be affected by IBM's suspension from federal contracting, according to Forterra's Vice President for Marketing, Chris Badger.

"Nothing has changed with Forterra's plan to partner with IBM around the Babel Bridge program," he said April 1 via email. "This program starts development this quarter with two releases planned for this year- one later this summer and the second one by end of year. I am sure that IBM will have cleared up the temporary debarment for federal contracts by the time our releases are available later this year."

The plan is for IBM to incorporate Forterra in its Unified Communications and Collaboration platform to help solve the problems created by interoperability among intelligence agency communications systems. The enhanced product will meld Forterra’s On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment 3-D platform with IBM’s Lotus Notes calendar Sametime.

Babel Bridge will allow agencies to instantly share information and interact in a synthetic world to plan operations and take real-time action in the real world, according to the companies.

Badger said the project has been going great guns since it was announced March 20. "We have received very strong interest outside the government market, particularly in the corporate and healthcare markets," he said. "This broader interest beyond the government markets is actually reinforcing the need to invest in near term, robust product development and marketing plans."

IBM is a leading large-industry player in virtual worlds, as well. The company was represented at last year's inaugural conference of the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds. It's unclear whether or how the suspension would affect and fledgling agency efforts in virtual world Second Life or elsewhere in the metaverse.