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Breakthrough in Enterprise IM Interoperability?

For instance, if your company has standardized on Sametime and acquires a firm that's deployed OCS, why shouldn't you be able to add to your Sametime client a buddy who is an OCS user, see his or her presence, and so forth? Well, apparently you can. At least that's what I was told when I dropped by NEC Unified Solutions' booth at last month's Lotusphere conference in Orlando. The conversation was supposed to revolve around the plug-in that lets NEC's SV7000 IP PBX send telephony presence to Sametime, but I somehow starting droning on about my pet peeve. The product manager manning the booth said that OW5000, the middleware NEC uses to interconnect OCS and Sametime to its voice systems, can act as a sort of broker between enterprise IM software from third parties. Not only can a Sametime client be populated with OCS buddies, changes in presence state communicated by, say, OCS to OW5000 are delivered to Sametime if it's also connected to the middleware.

I repeated all this to any Lotusphere attendees who cared to listen, and to a number who didn't care but whom I managed to back into a corner so there was no escape. A Cisco product manager, a Nortel marketing guy, a couple well-dressed IBM Sametime sales reps, and a gaggle of fellow industry analysts. It was news to them all ... with the exception of a product marketing manager for Siemens Enterprise Communications' contact center solutions who essentially said, "Oh yeah, you can do that with OpenScape too" and proceeded to draw me a diagram of how it's done.

I also put in an email to NEC, just to make sure I was understanding things properly and got back this response:

NEC's OW5000 is a presence manager. Any presence aware application can be fed into OW5000 then shared with any desktop that the user prefers. The information from OW5000 is limited to the presence information fed into it. For example, OCS only shows on/off hook, not device. So only information given will be shared.

Of course there's seeing, believing and all that rot ... which is to say this is all very much word of mouth at this point. I have not actually seen this enterprise IM brokering service demoed and would very much like to so I can kick at the tires a bit. Granted it's not federation in all its standards-based glory, but if this works as advertised it's a definite step in the right direction.