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OCS-Sametime Interoperability Follow-up

Well, two days later I got my demo. Chalk up one for instant gratification! The demo was courtesy of Rod Hodgman, who handles marketing at Session Border Controller developer Covergence. He sent me an email, saying:

We provide this capability as part of our Covergence Session Manager .... It extends the traditional SBC feature set with powerful management capability and unique policy-driven routing, control, monitoring, security, and interoperability to ensure that all real-time applications meet the customer's security, compliance and business requirements.

That seemed like a fine description of what an SBC does, but what does it have to do with bridging the separate pools of users that are being created as Microsoft, IBM, and others deploy their fully open, standards-based but decidedly non-interoperable enterprise instant messaging servers? The answer was in the demo, which you can view here. In it you'll see a detailed description of the Covergence SBC acting as an application-layer gateway communicating presence state information between OCS and Sametime clients. Presence information is shared between Microsoft Office Communicator and Sametime clients. Chat sessions are opened for both OCS and Sametime users to participate in.

A lot of the higher level features that make OCS less of an IM server and more of a platform for unified communications apparently cannot be bridged at this time. Things like an OCS user viewing location information provided by a Sametime user. Or viewing telephony presence (on hook/off hook) information of a Sametime user, assuming both OCS and Sametime are integrated to PBXs. Or clicking to set up a VoIP or video call to a Sametime user.

Nonetheless, this is a nice step forward in enterprise IM system interoperability. And the folks at Covergence say they see nothing that could prevent them from adding this sort of capability down the road when businesses deploying OCS and Sametime expect it. I still think it would be better to see IM software developers using standards in the way standards are meant: to facilitate multi-vendor interoperability. But perhaps that will come as enterprise IM servers are deployed more widely than they are today and paying customers begin demanding interoperability among platforms.