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IBM’s Translation Server Coming Soon

Those familiar with Star Trek know that different races often used a Universal Translator to communicate across languages. Now IBM Corp. has come out with their own version, called the WebSphere Translation Server.

Due out in March, the server allows global enterprises to translate Web pages, chat and email to be translated in real time, from 200 to 500 words per second, depending on the processor and system. It translates both ways between English and French, German, Spanish and Italian, but is a one-way street for several Asian languages -- English to Japanese, Korean, and both simplified and traditional Chinese.

The server can also be individually 'tuned' for local slang or domain-specific phrases or terms.

The translation server has the potential to significantly speed up content management and delivery for both Internet and Intranet sites, since Web pages wouldn't need to be rewritten in several languages. The cost of professional translators could also be substantially reduced.

One of the first large customers for the translation server is Deutsche Bank. Marco Stein, of Deutsche Bank, says the software does more than just change the text. "The ability to support bi-directional translation for a wide range of languages was an important consideration for us. We also needed a system which actually understood the grammars of the various languages, much more than just a translation of individual words."

The machine translation market is small right now, but analyst group IDC expects it to grow substantially, to $378 million by 2003.

WebSphere Translation Server runs on a number of operating systems, including NT, Solaris and AIX. Being an enterprise technology, it comes with an enterprise price tag of  $10,000 per language pair (i.e. English and German), per processor. - Keith Ward

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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