Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Introducing Sametime 8.5

For those of you who couldn't be with us last week at Lotusphere, the big Sametime news was the introduction of version 8.5. Sametime 8.5 is shaping up to be the most significant release in three years - since we transformed a simple IM & Web Conferencing application into a platform for Unified Communications and Collaboration. So, what can you expect?

  • A new online Meeting experience
  • A zero-download, browser-based instant messaging client. Great news for resource constrained deployments and chat enabling web sites.
  • The ability to extend unified communications capabilities to your web apps through standard web development tools (CEBP)
  • A modern video infrastructure with higher-quality, lower bandwidth codecs and improved integration into standards-based SIP endpoints
  • New mobile device support, including a browser-based iPhone client
  • A new centralized management console. This will make it easier for IT to deploy and administer Sametime.

Over the next few weeks, we'll go through many of the planned enhancements in detail. But for now, lets talk about Meetings in 8.5. We think most web conferencing systems are simply too cumbersome for regular use. Raise your hand if you're tired of losing the first 10 minutes of every meeting to sharing URLs, repeating IDs or waiting for plugins to download to your browser? We've invested a lot of time and energy in rethinking how meetings work in Sametime. Our goal is to make them so easy, everyone will want to use them everyday. There's no reason there are 300 million corporate email users yet the largest web conferencing vendors only claim 7 million users per month. Some of the functionality you'll see:

Easy to Access
We've added a list of all your online meetings to your Sametime Connect Client. Joining a meeting is as simple as starting a chat... just double click on the meeting. Of course, this will integrate with your Notes or Outlook calendar.

Easy to Invite
Drag others them from your Sametime Contact List to your meeting to invite them. Just like a group chat invitation, they are one click away from joining.

Easy to Use
Sametime Meetings can now run through the Sametime Connect Client. This means starting and joining a meeting is incredibly fast. Moreover, Sametime users will have a complete set of tools available to them without having to take any additional steps. Non-Sametime users can also join Sametime Meetings through their web browser. URLs are in "plain English" (or appropriate language), so they'll be easy to embed in invitations or relay over the phone. Ordinary participants won't have to download any special plugins (although, application sharing will require a small java browser plugin.)

Easy to Customize
Don't like where we put the chat window in the meeting room? Need more room for other tools? No problem, all the elements can be resized, re-arranged and (with the Sametime Connect client) even ripped off the meeting and float free-standing.

Easy to Share
Meeting recordings will be stored in industry standard formats to simplify editing (as appropriate) and distribution. New reporting tools can automatically generate attendance lists, questions to be answered and action items to be worked.

Easy to Collaborate
Sametime Meetings are always-on and persistent. You can create different rooms for different topics and leave the work materials there for future use. Store files, transcripts, action items right in the room or link to other file repositories. Authorized individuals can access the room and materials at any time. Its like a physical conference room where the cleaning staff never wipes the whiteboard - unless you ask them to.

Obviously, there's a lot more to talk about and we will on this blog. Sametime 8.5 is scheduled for a 3Q 09 release... but the lawyers want me to say that timing and functionality are always subject to change. (Happy guys?)

Oh... one last thought. I wanted to personally thank the Microsoft OCS team for coming to Lotusphere. We hope you had a great time in Orlando and that you don't have to spend too much time rewriting your OCS R2 launch materials on account of us. We saw lots of note taking. ;-)