IBM Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony
Sametime provides services such as aggregated presence, instant messaging, online meetings, VoIP/video and incoming call control, while enabling the integration of multi-vendor telephony and video systems.
It's my pleasure to have E. Brent Kelly, Senior Analyst and Partner at Wainhouse Research join me for the column. His session at VoiceCon (now Enterprise Connect) on Microsoft's OCS and IBM’s Sametime is terrific and so (selfishly), I asked him to help write this week's column.
I also interviewed IBM's Program Director for Unified Communications & Collaboration Software, John Del Pizzo in preparation for this column. BTW, John also writes an interesting blog about IBM/real-life at http://johndelpizzo.wordpress.com/. Check it out if you have time.
So with thanks to Brent and John, let's jump into this week’s column....
The Economy and Unified Communications
First, the bad news. Since 2008, US businesses have eliminated roughly 8.4 million payroll jobs. With the "recovery", these same businesses have brought back just 11% or less than 1M of these lost jobs.
Now the good news. Corporate profits are on the rise. Through 1Q2010, US businesses have recovered roughly 87% of the revenue declines experienced during the recession. Standard & Poor 500 companies such as 3M, Apple, Bank of America, Caterpillar, and Citigroup have accumulated huge cash reserves estimated at $848 billion.
Many companies are now sitting on piles of cash. And yet they're not hiring. So what the heck is going on? It's called a "jobless recovery."
When the recession hit, US companies large and small, quickly (and I do mean quickly) cut headcount to keep the doors open and restore some semblance of profitability. Now that the economy is coming back (albeit slowly), these same companies are reticent to rehire.
Call it whatever you like (fiscal prudence or FUD), US companies are looking to increase profits by driving/squeezing/demanding even more productivity out of current staffs.
Frankly, the economic environment is a "perfect storm" for Unified Communications with its potential to optimize business processes and increase productivity (aka profitability). Still, overcoming corporate resistance to technology investments is a problem, but perhaps hosted/managed UC offerings will be just the ticket. I'll leave that for another column or writer. My point is that the current economy is ripe for UC. As such, I wanted to look at IBM's Sametime. Apologies for the long road to get here, but I thought it would be good to connect these recession-UC dots as a lead-in to the discussion on Sametime.
Sametime: An Overview
Sametime is IBM's software platform for unified communications and collaboration. Sametime provides services such as aggregated presence, instant messaging, online meetings, VoIP/video and incoming call control, while enabling the integration of multi-vendor telephony and video systems.
Unlike Microsoft's OCS, which offers its own telephony app and is intended to run UC functionality in the homogeneous world of Exchange, Active Directory, and Office desktops, Sametime is specifically designed for mixed vendor environments. IBM really doesn't care which "PBX" is used, which leaves the actual telephony app to a broad range of telephony vendors (and customers).
While offering integration with most telephony servers, companies can use either vendor plugins with Sametime Standard (good for single vendor environments) or use Sametime Unified Telephony to deliver common UC capabilities across a mixed vendor infrastructure.
Sametime is offered in three options: Entry, Standard, and Advanced. As you move up from one level to another, the functionality is additive, meaning that if you buy Sametime Advanced, you also get the functionality of Sametime Entry + Standard.
Note the telephony integration listed under Sametime Standard. Most telephony vendors also have plugins that provide on-hook/off-hook status, "click to call", and other capabilities from their PBX through Sametime.