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Lotusphere Sametime news roundup

There was a lot of news and analyst coverage on Unified Communications at Lotusphere this year.  I've pulled together the highlights that I've come across so far:

Press Coverage
:  IBM enhances Sametime to help users create communities, expands ...

At IBM's annual Lotusphere conference held last week in Orlando, IBM and its partners made a series of announcements about its advances with Lotus Sametime, the company's unified communications platform. Building on some big customer wins over the year with companies including Bank of NY, Celina Insurance, Colgate Palmolive, HSBC and Prudential U.K., IBM unveiled a new set of channel partnership agreements, OEM arrangements, and additions to the Lotus Sametime Business Partner program for cross-vendor interoperability.

:  Lotus teams with Cisco, Nortel on unified communications
IBM/Lotus recently took on more partners for what is shaping up to be a battle between major players to supply unified communications clients and infrastructure to corporate users.

The partners, Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks, have familiar rings as both are supplying their own unified communications equipment and partnering with other vendors with real-time communication strategies, namely longtime Lotus rival Microsoft Corp. The deals, which come during the 10th anniversary of IBM Lotus Sametime, call for Cisco, Nortel and Carestream Health to sell the Lotus Sametime real-time communications software.

:  Lotus Expands Sametime Unified Communications Apps
Lotus Sametime Advanced offers tools that the company says will make it easier to quickly locate people with specific expertise or information and create new communities and contact lists. An employee could broadcast a request for someone who speaks a foreign language, for example, or poll co-workers on the best time for a meeting. A persistent chat feature lets users keep a continuous chat session running on a specific topic within a community such as a project team, said Adam Gartenberg, a Lotus senior offering manager for unified communications.

Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony is targeted at companies with mixed telephony and PBX environments. It lets users manage phone calls from within Sametime, including establishing rules for handling calls such as which calls should be routed to another employee if the person is on the phone or route all calls to a cell phone when the person's calendar shows they are in a meeting. The software works with a broad range of PBX systems, Lotus said.
:  Lotus Sametime gains new partners
IT Jungle
:  IBM Toots Lotus Sametime Horn With Customer, Partnership Deals
IBM Adds Interactive Flair to Sametime
IT Jungle
:  System i VoIP from Nortel Expected Soon
:  Lotus toying with Sametime features including virtual world meetings
:  Lotus on track for continued success

IBM Press Release:

Sametime Adoption Expands IBM Unified Communications to Millions ...


Michael Osterman (NetworkWorld): Lotusphere leaves an impression or two

Sametime continues to be a market leader in the real-time communications market with 20 million dedicated users and 100 million Sametime-enabled users through Notes/Domino. Interestingly, one-third of the new Sametime seats deployed in 2007 were in Exchange shops.

Melanie Turek (Collaboration Loop):  Lotusphere

I'm always surprised when I hear industry players and observers (read: analysts and journalists) questioning IBM's ability to succeed in the UC space, especially, they say, in the face of Microsoft's late-2007 release of Office Communications Server. The Lotus product suite is more robust and mature, and it speaks to enterprise IT's need for scalability and security. Furthermore, IBM is clearly not trying to marginalize, let alone replace, telephony vendors, which is what most customers want to hear. (No one wants to rip and replace a PBX before its time, but most people I speak with have doubts about abandoning the concept of PBXs even when they're ready for an upgrade.)

Jim Burton, CT-Link/UC UC Strategies Team at Lotusphere.

As I was listening to the announcements of new products and enhancements to existing products, and watching one demo after another, I had a recurring thought: IBM is way ahead of Microsoft. The IBM products have been around longer and offer more features and capabilities.

To get a reality check, I spoke with Brent Kelly, Senior Analyst and Partner with Wainhouse Research, who was also attending Lotusphere. Brent will be an instructor for a tutorial at VoiceCon Orlando called "Choices in Unified Communications Solutions: Comparing Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 to IBM Lotus Sametime 8," so he knows both products well.

Brent told me, "If we compare IBM Lotus Sametime to Microsoft OCS, at a high level both deliver similar functionality to the user. Both provide IM, presence, web conferencing, audio and video, as well as integration with telephony systems. Wainhouse Research's data tell us that Microsoft is leading with respect to mindshare; however, if we look closer at the overall collaborative offering and strategy, including adjacent capabilities, I would have to say that the IBM offering is richer and much more flexible."

Fred Knight:  Lotusphere Update 3: Some Summary Observations

Unified Communications is not a peripheral topic at Lotusphere, it is a core area of focus. During many conversations with IBM about its UC program over the past year, I always wondered how much UC really mattered to the company. No longer. UC plays a central role in Lotus's future, and IBM's customers seem to agree -- the UC-oriented sessions were jammed.

Blair Pleasant (UC Strategies):  Podcast with Bruce Morse  

Bruce Morse, VP Unified Communications Software, Lotus Software, provides an update on IBM's UC news, and discusses how several customers are reaping the benefits of UC

Blair Pleasant (UC Strategies):  Podcast with marisa Viveros
IBM Global Technology Services' Marisa Viveros discusses how GTS is helping customers receive value from unified communications

Business Partner Press Releases: