In case you haven't noticed, IBM Sametime 9 is a pretty significant release for us. It marks a new chapter in the life of the platform in more ways than the version number alone suggests. So far Sametime 9 has been well received. Analysts like it, customers like it and business partners are busy learning about it and deploying it for their customers.
All this is encouraging and it validates the decision we made to move on from our old UC2 strategy and embrace Social Communications as our guiding principle. We worked very hard to make Sametime 9 a proof point of that strategy and to use it as a launchpad for a new way to deliver software and bring innovation to the marketplace.
Transitioning from Sametime 8.x to Sametime 9 is like a play in two acts: Act One features us--designers, product managers, developers, sellers, and all the people that makes shipping software possible but you never see at conferences or "singing" karaoke at Kimonos in Orlando. Act Two brings our customers and business partners to the stage while we move to playing supporting roles.
The play is still running through the last scenes of Act One and the frenzy is starting to heat up backstage as Act Two is about to start.
The play is a drama (of course) garnished with hints of comedy and musical theater--there are a couple of songs somewhere in the script. The Sametime Song you've probably heard a million times, and this one, which I just came across on YouTube:
I don't know these guys but I applaud their enthusiasm. Now let me tell you about Act One.
After we released Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 in November of 2011 we understood the 8.5 code base had run its course. We initially tried to structure an 8.5.3 release but we quickly realized that we needed to close the 8.x chapter and move on. At some point we thought about skipping a version number and go with Sametime 10. That lasted for a few months. Then somehow we decided it was better to go with 9 and that's what we ended up doing: Sametime 9 it is.
We sat down to ponder where we wanted to take Sametime moving forward. We decided to focus our efforts on four main areas: rich communications, mobile, enhancing the social experience and cloud. Then we took inventory of our existing capabilities in each area, we talked to customers and business partners about what we needed to do to get us where we wanted to be, and we devised a plan to get there.
First we focused on taking Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 to SmartCloud for Social Business and in adding the capabilities needed to give our customers an attractive offering: integration with Connections Files, built-in audio conferencing, server-side remote control and meetings recordings, and other features that were not originally shipped with Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1.
Getting a cloud-based offering up and running was by far the easiest of the many things we realized we had to do. We spent most of 2012 doing that and the result is IBM Web Meetings, an IBM SmartCloud for Social Business offering.
We also understood that our cloud story required not only a public-cloud offering but also an option for those customers interested in having their own private environments with integrated telephony hosted within the IBM SmartCloud infrastructure. That's how the new IBM SmartCloud Unified Communications Dedicated offering was born.
Secondly, we understood we needed to revamp our media services infrastructure to support the next generation of mobile apps we had envisioned. We also knew (because you told us) that we had to provide a richer, more personal set of integration points with IBM Connections, WebSphere Portal, Notes and the rest of the IBM software portfolio. So, we set out to build a brand new media services infrastructure from scratch. We wanted it to be standards-based, highly scalable, flexible enough to support not just our desktop client technology but also our Web and mobile clients. Julie Reed has been blogging about that extensively in the past few weeks.
Finally, we took a long, hard look at Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 and we noticed it looked like a Windows 95 application (I have to credit John Del Pizzo for such a witty observation). We then decided that we needed a brand new user interface. Thankfully, IBM had recently introduced a new user experience framework called IBM One UI that gave us the modern, streamlined user interface you see today in Sametime 9. Then, as we always do, we allocated bandwidth to clean up, update and improve the platform.
Then we were ready to build our next major release: IBM Sametime 9.
Doing all this took long days and nights; hundreds (thousands, perhaps?) of meetings, conference calls and IM and email exchanges. Release schedules were proposed and discarded. People went on medical leave, others left, and new people came on board. Many content proposals were considered and rejected and--here's the drama--while we were in the middle of all this we were asked to be the first team in the Collaboration Solutions Group to follow the new release management methodology IBM just recently adopted across all product segments.
The new release methodology promised to make the entire process shorter, more focused and less onerous (it did). There was one little problem: It was technically still under development when we made the switch and we had to absorb changes while in flight and reflect them accordingly on the work products we had to complete. We had a long Spring and an even longer Summer. Many of us just got used to working weekends as if they were weekdays. I, for one, did not take any time off until September 27, seven days after we shipped.
Lots of work, for sure, but with very good results. Sametime 9 is a great release and we're all very proud of the work we did to make it happen.
IBM Sametime 9 is the embodiment of the four themes I alluded to above: rich communications, mobile, enhancing the social experience and cloud. I know you've probably read about this in other postings on this blog but I'm going to repeat it anyway because it's wroth mentioning.
Sametime 9 features the new IBM One UI-based user experience designed to get you where you need to go in no more than three clicks (or taps). It's primarily visual, with very little text on the user interface (reading takes longer than spotting an image) and it makes better use of the available space on the client. It's also faster than our old UI framework and it brings all relevant communication channels to the forefront for easy access; all on a common user experience across clients and platforms.
Sametime 9 also features a standards-based media infrastructure built from scratch exclusively for IBM Sametime 9 and implemented on top of WebSphere Application Server.
Our new media infrastructure is an implementation of the H.264 SVC standard. SVC stands for Scalable Video Coding. It's a very efficient way to distribute video streams between a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) and two or more endpoints (clients). This makes the system as a whole capable of handling high workloads and complex topologies through clustering and geographic distribution.
When we talk scalability in this case we're referring to three different ways in which the new media infrastructure can handle workload and topology: In addition to the intrinsic benefits of the H.264 SVC standard we've added features such as server-side recordings (we already support client-side recording) for meetings, the ability to dial out to audio conferencing bridges via third-party gateways and we are retaining backward compatibility with non-SVC endpoints such as Sametime 8.5.x clients.
We're working on the next generation of mobile apps for Sametime 9. Our new mobile apps will feature audio, video and telephony support along with lots of new capabilities. For instance, our new meetings apps for Android and iOS will feature the first installment of a concept we call Smarter Meetings, which is a specification for capabilities designed to help you optimize the time you spend in meetings and enhance your situational awareness prior, during and after a meeting. The idea is to help you make better, more informed, more educated decisions around issues being discussed with your colleagues, customers and business partners.
Sametime 9 also features closer integration with IBM Connections as part of our commitment to enhancing the social experience. We're starting with integration with IBM Connections Files on SmartCloud and on our new mobile meetings apps, which will also feature integration with Connections Profiles.
We're working on three Widgets initially for Connections communities (and Portal later): the Sametime Video Widget, a Meeting Rooms Widget and a Persistent Chat Rooms Widget. We have a long list of integration points we want to implement and we're just getting started. You'll see more in this area in the future.
Finally, we repackaged our offerings to make them more functionality-oriented. Sametime Entry, Standard and Advanced were, for the most part, structured around what's included in the server components that conform each offering. Our new Sametime Communicate, Conference and Complete offerings are structured around the functionality our customers need for one-to-one communications, Web conferencing and full-fledged social communications respectively. We continue to offer Sametime Unified Telephony as part of our offering catalog with all the functionality and robustness that made it famous at a great price.
Sametime 9 supports Notes 9 and higher; it supports Connections 4.5 and higher and Portal 8.5 and higher. It's available in Greenhouse today if you want to play with it.
Next, we're taking it to SmartCloud.
Sametime 9 shipped in September of this year, as I mentioned before. We're working on a Hotfix scheduled for November that will make Sametime 9 compliant with the new US Government encryption guidelines that are coming into effect on January 1, 2014. The Hotfix also includes updates to our integration with Microsoft Office applications. We're adding support for Office and SharePoint 2013 on Windows 7 and on Windows 8. We'll also publish the Widgets I mentioned earlier to the Solutions Catalog in Greenhouse. This is the first time we're going to deliver product functionality this way and we're very excited about it.
I mentioned we're taking Sametime 9 to SmartCloud. We'd like that to happen in two stages.
We want the first half of 2014 to be all about upgrades to the SmartCloud for Social Business offerings as well as the SmartCloud UC Dedicated infrastructure. We'd like to add support for mobile apps and add new capabilities to the offerings as well. That's our intention but, as you know full well, all plans are subject to change without notice.
On the second half of the year we'd like to focus on enabling multi-point audio and video in SmartCloud and in completing feature parity with the on-premises code base. Again, that's what we'd like to do.
In the meantime, we'll continue working on what's next. This is work that's already started. We are already consolidating the information we've been gathering from sales, development, our customers and business partners on what should come first on Sametime Next. We're also transitioning to a new delivery model that's more dynamic, more flexible and more open. Continuous Delivery and Cloud First (that's the name) is transforming the way we design, build and ship software. You'll hear more from us on this topic as we move along.
That's Act One of this play. I'll tell you about Act Two on a future blog posting. Stay tuned.
On behalf of the entire Sametime organization, l am pleased to announce that the latest version of this iconic product – Sametime 9 – will be available for customers on September 20th.
I invite you to attend the formal unveiling at the “Reinvent The Way Work Works”, a signature IBM virtual event, on Wednesday, September 18th, 10am-Noon (EDT). (Register here.) This event will introduce a number of new innovations around IBM's industry leading Social Platform and feature speakers such as:
Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business
Alistair Rennie, General Manager, Social Business at IBM
Jeff Schick, Vice President, Social Business at IBM
Customers like Australian Bureau of Statistics, Langhoff Promotion A/S and SafeGuard World International
Following the keynote, there will be a deep dive on what's new in Sametime 9 as well as a virtual showcase with over a dozen partners.
While we'll take you through all the exciting new capabilities on the 18th (hint: an entirely new user experience and out-of-the-box continuous presence video conferencing), I want to highlight the significant changes we've made to Sametime's packaging. We're retiring the old portfolio in favor of a more streamlined set of offerings:
The New Sametime
Sametime Communicate is all about individual communications needs. It starts by unifying all of Sametime's instant messaging capabilities into one offering – including Offline Messaging, Skill Tap, Instant Polls, Persistent Group Chat and more. We build on that with 1:1 voice and video capabilities, including Bandwidth Management Tools for Sametime calls. We even added the ability to link Sametime to your telephony or telepresence system over a SIP trunk. Yes, your Sametime Connect client can be your phone or video endpoint without any additional licensing. We include mobile, browser and rich clients along with all the API's and 3rd party plugins to integrate your existing services into Sametime or put Sametime services where your users work every day.
Sametime Conference is for multi-party collaboration. This offering blends our award winning zero-download, browser-based meeting capabilities with our new video MCU for continuous presence, high definition video. Use Sametime meetings for multi-party audio calls, dial out to your favorite audio conferencing bridge or use partner plugins or adapters to integrate Sametime Meetings with your favorite video conferencing system.
Sametime Complete bundles both offerings together and delivers additional value all its own. With Complete, we extend continuous presence video to video calls outside of meetings. We also let you share your screen or an application right from a chat window. In addition, use the Sametime Connect client to invite colleagues to your meetings by just dragging their name from a contact list and dropping it on the meeting room or clicking the meeting icon at the top of a chat window.
One other important change worth calling out today is that Sametime customers will also be able to collaborate with customers and partners without having to acquire the (dreaded) Extranet license. That's right, any licensed user of Sametime inside your organization will be able to work with external parties. So, go ahead and chat enable that customer service site or use Sametime Meetings for your customer presentation.
Finally, we retain Sametime Unified Telephony for those large organizations that want to provide advanced unified communications capabilities to their users while isolating the those user from future changes in backend telephony infrastructure. Sametime Unified Telephony supports homogenous or heterogenous telephony environments that a company may face today or in the future.
We'll have a lot more to say on the new Sametime packing in just a few days.... including transition plans and more detail on what's in each package. We'll also offer a series of posts outlining the cutting edge capabilities you'll find in this latest release. Please keep an eye on this blog, post questions here or directly reach out to anyone on the Product Management team.
Over the past couple years in my role as Product Manager for Rich Media in Sametime , I’ve been excited about the great new video capabilities we were introducing in Sametime 9 and the business value the continuous presence experience could bring to our customers. However, I must confess that I was less than enthusiastic about using it myself. Certainly not the endorsement you would expect from the Product Manager – but hear me out.
Like many people, I don’t particularly like being on video. Maybe it’s due to feeling self-conscious or maybe it’s just a generational thing. Face it, I’m not only over the hill – but I’ve made a good start down the other side! However, sometimes in life you’ve got to do things you’re not comfortable doing – and as Product Manager for Rich Media, this was one of those times.
I started using our new video platform as soon as it was ready – okay, even before it was ready. In the beginning, the main purpose was testing. We would initiate a video call, wave at each other, ask the proverbial question “can you hear me?”, and hang up shortly thereafter. We were still falling back to telephone calls and dialing into an IBM conference bridge for most of our discussions.
As we got into the beta stage, within our Product Management team, we started using it more frequently for real conversations. The discussion might be as adhoc as “Are you seeing this behaviour in the Sametime 9 client?” – but instead of simply IM’ing or making a Sametime Unified Telephony call, we actually initiated an AV call. With the Sametime 9 Connect client, it’s a single click to escalate a group chat into a multi-way video call.
It wasn’t long before we were using Sametime 9 Meetings with AV for our regular team meetings. I would typically undock my video window to move it to my second monitor, allowing me to maximize the shared content pane on my laptop screen (perhaps another generational thing...). As a team that’s distributed across the US and Canada, we don’t “see” each other regularly. With video, the experience became more personal - we had a chance to see each other’s workspaces, we learned who talked with their hands, and we were able to quickly see when someone was in agreement or possibly confused. Most importantly, our interactions became more engaged.
Like many people in other organizations, IBMers are guilty of multi-tasking. When talking on the phone – or participating in an audio conference call – it’s common to try to respond to that urgent email or polish up that slide deck needed by the end of day. It takes resolve to ignore everything else – and truly focus on the current topic and conversation. I found continuous presence video can quickly have a big impact on reducing the multi-tasking and improving the focus in the discussion and result in more effective meetings. There are a couple reasons - first by seeing the speaker and other participants, one’s attention is drawn to the meeting and visual cues and body language become part of the communication. The other reason? Well when one is on video, one is less likely to multi-task as others on the call will detect the lack of attention. In some ways, video is an added dose of resolve!
John Del Pizzo and I started using Sametime 9 video for our weekly 1x1. The more we used video, the more natural it became – and the experience was much like we were sitting across the table from each other.
We even conducted our Sametime 9 Analyst Briefings on the Sametime 9 Beta platform in IBM Greenhouse using video. The new browser support allowed analysts to join from their Mac or Windows machines as guests. After installing the Sametime plug-in, the analysts were able to participate in the continuous video experience with John, Kramer, and me. With Sametime 9, Mac users can choose to use Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox – and Windows users can choose between Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome. The new browser support combined with the new built-in extranet model also enables Sametime customers to include external participants in video meetings.
The new video capabilities in Sametime 9 are something you need to experience! I’ve provided personal examples of the value it can bring, but don’t take my word for it. A recent survey by Polycom and Wainhouse is worth reviewing (find it here: http://tinyurl.com/nfbceve). A couple key points to note from this survey. First, the biggest value most respondents attributed to video was the ability to improve productivity and to increase the impact of discussions. Second, the survey showed that those users that use video conferencing are likely to use it on a daily or weekly basis.
Clearly, my experience supports that second point. Once someone begins to use video, even a skeptical user like me, the value of the experience quickly overcomes the hesitation. Eventually, even I stopped glancing at the preview window – and put my focus on the other video participants – and the “real face to face communication”.
Let me share a few observations from my personal experience with Sametime 9 video in IBM.
Don’t underestimate the experience of interacting “face to face” with your globally distributed organization!
Initiating a Sametime AV call is easy and quick! You will not have time to swap that heavy metal t-shirt you’re wearing for that light blue button down shirt hanging in your closet, so think ahead.
You never know which executive or customer may be on the other end of that “video call” invitation you accept (… in your role as Product Manager for Rich Media)… dress appropriately.
If you are someone who likes to pace while you are on a call, you may want to invest in a wide angled camera for your laptop.
It’s amazing how many people wear baseball caps at their desks!
I will be following up in the next few weeks with some additional entries about the Rich Media capabilities in Sametime 9, so please check back. If you’re curious about what’s coming on our mobile platforms to support these new video capabilities – see Marc Pagnier’s post earlier this week which shared a video with some sneak previews – and stay tuned on this blog for more details coming soon!
In case you missed John Del Pizzo's blog post from last Tuesday, IBM Sametime 9 introduces an all new, simplified packaging model consisting of just four editions: Sametime Communicate, Sametime Conference, Sametime Complete, and Sametime Unified Telephony. In this post, I'd like to share with you our reasons for making these changes. I'll also describe the new Sametime 9 licensing model. In a few days I'll post a follow-up note explaining how existing Sametime 8.5 customers can move to and start taking advantage of the new Sametime 9 packaging.
Why does Sametime 9 introduce a new packaging model?
There are actually a number of reasons we made this change. First, we wanted to better align the Sametime editions to the way our customers have told us they want to buy and use Sametime. To that end, for customers that just want a person-to-person collaboration solution, we created the Sametime Communicate edition. For customers that just want a group collaboration solution, we created the Sametime Conference edition. For customers that want both person-to-person and group collaboration, we created the Sametime Complete edition. And for customers that want advanced softphone capabilities, including intelligent call routing, that will integrate with their existing telephony infrastructure, we continue to provide Sametime Unified Telephony, now as an add on to the Sametime Communicate and Sametime Complete editions.
A related reason for the Sametime packaging changes is that we wanted to provide customers with a clearer, more concise articulation of the value and content of each edition. We felt there was no better way to do that than to create Sametime 9 editions that were specifically tailored to the four main Sametime customer use cases described above. Even the names of the new Sametime 9 editions were carefully chosen to convey meaning about their intended use cases. A high level comparison of the Sametime 9 edition content that underscores this point can be found in the announcement letters under the 'Product Positioning' section.
A third motivation for the new Sametime packaging model is that it helps emphasizes that Sametime 9 is something truly new and different. Sametime 9 is not simply an update of existing technology but rather includes breathtaking new capabilities like a new and simplified user interface, continuous presence, high definition, high performance video, and much more. Future blog posts will describe these new capabilities in detail. For now, suffice to say that the Sametime 9 packaging has a fresh new look that also reflects the freshness of the new Sametime 9 capabilities.
A final reason for the Sametime 9 packaging changes is to better align with the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business licensing model. As some Sametime customers have also become SmartCloud customers (and vice versa), we wanted to make it easier for customers familiar with one product to transfer that knowledge to the other. The Sametime 9 licensing model discussed below is intended to do just that.
What is the Sametime 9 licensing model?
All Sametime 9 editions are licensed by authorized user. Simply count up the number of people that would be considered authorized users of the software (check out the Sametime 9 licenses for exact 'authorized user' terms and conditions), purchase sufficient entitlements for those users, and you are good to go. There is no need to deal with client access licenses, device access licenses, server licenses, or the other complicated license models that some of our competitors torture customers with. This means you can deploy Sametime 9 software on as many servers as you like and the only thing you need to track is the number of users authorized to use that software. Purchasing departments and IT managers charged with tracking your organization's software entitlements will really appreciate how Sametime 9's simple licensing model makes their lives easier.
Sametime Communicate, Sametime Conference, and Sametime Complete also include the ability to collaborate with applicable external users at no extra charge. Be sure to read the Sametime 9 licenses for exact terms and conditions but the net is that an applicable external user is any person that is not directly affiliated with and paid by your organization such as an employee or contractor (i.e. an authorized user) that uses Sametime to communicate with an authorized user. For example, an education institution that provides e-learning services using Sametime Conference would only need to ensure their teachers were appropriately licensed, not the students that those teachers provide instruction to. That's pretty amazing when you consider there could be tens of thousands of external users in such a scenario.
All Sametime 9 editions also include all the pre-requisite software (databases, web servers, etc) at no extra charge. Contrast that to some competitors products that force you to buy all those piece parts separately and I'm sure you'll agree the Sametime 9 product family delivers unbeatable value.
To summarize, our main motivation behind redesigning the Sametime 9 packaging model was to deliver greater value to Sametime customers in a way that was easy to understand. This, combined with the simple licensing model and many new and enhanced technical capabilities, makes Sametime 9 an exciting and high value release that organizations will want to start taking advantage of right away. To that end, my next post will describe how easy we've made it for existing Sametime 8.5 customers to move to and start taking advantage of Sametime 9.
I'm happy to announce that the IBM Sametime 9 Program is now open for registration.
For the first time in our history we're going to provide a cloud version of the Beta Program for participants interested in testing without having to install the server components. The cloud-based environment will run on the IBM Greenhouse infrastructure and it will be available in the next few weeks. Participants will only have to download and install the Sametime Connect client, point it to the server and play with it. No need to deal with large files, installation instructions and servers.
The program also features a closed on-premises component reserved for a small community of select customers and business partners. This is going to be a short program and we have to keep the on-premises feedback focused on specific areas of the product. For that reason we decided early in the process to engage a small band of trusted customers and business partners with deep expertise in deploying Sametime to help us test the new server components on-premises.
Joining the program is easy. All you need is a valid account on IBM Greenhouse. If you don't have one you can sign up here. Once you have confirmation that your account has been activated all you need to do is request to join the IBM Sametime 9 Beta Program Community.
You will receive a confirmation when your account is added to the community. Once that happens please take some time to familiarize yourself with the community.
First of all, keep in mind that the community is dynamic. We'll update the Wiki, the Forums, Bookmarks, Files, etc. continuously . Be sure to follow the community so you get notified when something gets updated.
Pay special attention to the Community Wiki. It contains important information about the program, the plan for code drops and what's expected of the participants. Please make sure to read the Rules of Engagement page. That's probably the most important page on the Community Wiki.
Also check out the Forums. This is where participants will have an opportunity to provide feedback. We've organized the forums based the objectives of each of the three Beta drops we're planning to deploy. Each Beta drop has a profile page on the Community Wiki that describes the focus areas and the kind of feedback we're expecting. Please provide as much feedback as you can. The more we learn from this experience the better the final product will be.
The community page includes links (Bookmarks) to the product documentation, to the current version of the Sametime Wiki and to this blog. Please take some time to go through the product documentation and let us know if you find any inaccuracies and whether we're missing anything.
The Beta Program is all about testing and reporting on the code drops. However, we're also providing an ideation blog for discussions related to enhancements and improvements.
Last but not least there's the community itself. Our designers, architects, developers, support engineers, sellers and product managers are all there and we're here to help.
The customers and business partners that are already in the community are pretty savvy and pretty smart. The same goes for those who will join (including yourself) in the next few weeks. Take advantage of the fact that you'll be sharing a space with all of us. Feel free to participate, to engage and to share. We're all there to collaborate with each other and to make this new release of IBM Sametime a success.
On November 22 we released IBM Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1. IFR means "Interim Feature Release" and as part of our very first IFR release (hence "IFR 1") we're bringing to market a rich set of features that complement and augment the themes we set out to deliver on with Sametime 8.5.2 back in May.
The most anticipated of those features is our new IBM Sametime Mobile client for iOS. It is a native client for both iPhone and iPad devices and it's available for download from Apple's App Store. Here's a few screenshots showing what the Sametime contact list, a person's business card and an SUT call look like on an iPhone:
Here's what a chat session looks like on an iPad:
And this is what an SUT call looks like on an iPad:
8.5.2 IFR 1 runs on top of Sametime 8.5.2. It won't run on top of 8.5.1
or 8.0.2 or 7.5.1 or anything besides 8.5.2.
In addition to the new
mobile client for iOS Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 brings to the table other
capabilities that you've already seen described in previous blog
postings. This one, however, it is probably the one most people have
been waiting for and we're very proud to bring it to market. The reviews
have been very positive so far and we already have a large number of
customers testing it out.
If you want to play with it just go to the App Store, download the app and make it point to Greenhouse. Here's how:
Server: st85meetingsp.lotus.com Port: 9444 Secure Connection: On Connection Type: Direct Connection
Then just use your Greenhouse user ID and password and you'll be ready to go.
I've discovered that keeping our Business Partner features to just Tuesdays wan't enough. So instead, we'll feature our Business Partners more throughout our weekly editorial calendar.
Today's IBM Business Partner Feature is about Lionbridge. On Wednesday, they announced the GeoFluent IM for IBM Sametime solution. This solution will help IBM Sametime clients collaborate more effectively with non-English speaking colleagues, partners and customers:
“Today's dynamic workforce is increasingly globally dispersed, multigenerational and multicultural,” said Caleb Barlow, Director, Unified Communications and Collaboration, IBM. “As globally dispersed organizations move towards becoming social businesses, the challenge of resolving real-time barriers of language translation is critical. Today’s always available, socially-connected organizations need to communicate seamlessly with networks of partners, clients and suppliers, regardless of location, time-zone or language.”
We encourage you to join Lionbridge and IBM for a webinar on August 23rd to learn more about increasing social communications across borders with multilingual unified communications. Please register for the webinar here.
As a native English and French speaker, I have to say this is pretty cool. I've seen the real-time translations in action, and it makes cross-language real-time communication SO much easier. It won't replace professional translators for all use cases, but for the majority of day-to-day real-time translation work, it's a great solution to look into.
It has been just over a month since we released Sametime 9, and we thought it would be good to reflect on what is resonating the best with our customers. For this post, I will focus on the new user experience, and provide a few teasers of what Sametime has to offer...
First, I have to say that our IBM Design team went to great lengths to provide a simplified user experience that takes advantage of the latest design innovations in the mobile space. This resulted in a modern interface that is also very consistent across the rich clients, the browser and the mobile applications. This is valuable considering that not many people are tied to a single device nowadays.
Beyond the overall new look and feel, a visual enhancement that may catch your eye is how your personal information is now being displayed succinctly at the top of the contact list.
This is an implicit reminder of how you look like to others, so you can keep this information more closely up to date. And allow your colleagues to more effectively communicate (or not) with you . It is also nice not to get more friendly reminders that your status still stays that you are "at lunch" when starting a presentation to your board... No more excuse, no menus to navigate, just type over the status or change your location...
Your communication apps. are now accessible - with one click - from the left navigator pane of your contact list.
So you can quickly switch to your meetings, or other built-in social capabilities. And it is not just for Sametime capabilities: partner (ex: voice mail) or custom business applications can easily be added to the navigator, thanks to the extensibility that is characteristic of the Sametime eclipse platform. And you can even rearrange the layout through drag and drop. The added bonus: there is more real estate for your content in the left pane...
Instant messaging is also a more powerful experience with context sensitive actions surfaced so I can quickly start group chats, meetings, instant desktop shares, screen captures, and more ... with just one click.
And if someone has an urgent message to me, alerts with the number of notifications (in red) will remind me of this communication.
There is so much control in meetings...
Change your presence, record the meeting, change permissions, create and view reports, .... It's hard to believe that so much is also available from the browser. It's about control and convenience.
Another nice touch in a meeting is the ability to use thumbnails to skip slides in a presentation (or pages in a document) beyond what is being shared.
So you can quickly jump to the right content, and not waste time.
Undoubtedly, the Sametime 9 interface is a radical change and has been getting rave reviews. But what will matter the most are all these little changes (and more) that make the difference in the day-to-day usage of your communication tools. Enjoy...
I had originally installed it on my HTC Incredible 2 from an email I got from our development team. I went to the Market and launched a search for "IBM Sametime". It came up as expected. The Market app recognized that Sametime was already installed on my phone and asked whether I wanted to upgrade. I said yes, it downloaded the updated app, installed it and picked up my settings flawlessly. I launched it and it worked. The way it is supposed to b e. Pretty nice and painless. I like it.
I am happy to announce to my Sametime friends and family the IBM Connections Suite v1.0! Today we announced an important bundle that brings together what your organization needs to optimize on the latest evolution in communication. Social Communication.
Today's world necessitates a social business. Social Communications makes it happen. Social Communications is not only the unification of social software and unified communications and collaboration but together creates a powerful new form of communication greater than the sum of its parts. It moves us beyond simple presence - beyond finding an expert and leveraging their static published content - shifting the focus to both relevance and real time engagement. Thus, it goes beyond an expertise search, beyond just reaching someone because they are available. For example, not only can you see what someone knows but also easily see validation by others - usage of their files by others (number of downloads, comments), how many people follow them, and what comments and questions have been left on their profile.
The IBM Connections Suite combines IBM Sametime Advanced, IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client, and IBM Connections with Community Custom Libraries powered by IBM FileNet, to provide exceptional value in built-for-business integrated social software complete with robust document management yielding a real-time social communications platform. With this bundle see a users static content, collaborate asynchronously or engage real-time with the relevant expert with text, voice or video.
Wouldn't this be a cool broadcast announcement to send to my IBM Sametime Blog Community? And that community is also the same community in IBM Connections' Communities where we work on activities together, have a forum, and share files? Just a simple example.
Check out these demo's in Luis Benitez's blog : http://www.lbenitez.com/2012/05/announcing-ibm-connections-suite-sweet.html
Read more in our official announcement here : http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/ShowDoc.wss?docURL=/common/ssi/rep_ca/7/897/ENUS212-087/index.html&lang=en&request_locale=en
Extractions from the Announcement letter :
IBM Connections capabilities:
Home page - Use the home page to see a snapshot of updates collected from across your subscriptions, notifications, and network of colleagues.
Communities - In Communities, members can participate in community-specific activities and forums, and can share blogs, bookmarks, feeds, and files.
Community document libraries - Configure IBM FileNet libraries to display, access, and manage content from within a Connections Community. Document libraries support document check-in and check-out, versioning, access control, and prompting for required metadata.
Profiles - Permits you to search for people across your organization using tags to identify expertise, current projects, and responsibilities.
Activities - Provides capabilities for gathering and sharing project documents, and working with colleagues to complete tasks.
Files - Provides a repository in which you can upload files and share them with others.
Wikis - Permits individuals, groups, and communities to capture, share, and co-author information.
Forums - Allows individuals to share ideas with, and benefit from, the expertise of others.
Blogs - Provides the ability to create online journals that you can use to deliver timely information to others. You can use a blog to present your ideas and get feedback from others or learn from the expertise of others who blog.
Bookmarks - Helps you save, share, and discover bookmarks through this social bookmarking service.
IBM Lotus Quickr Connectors
Author, share, collaborate, and manage Connections community document library content in FileNet using desktop applications such as Microsoft™ Windows™ Explorer, Microsoft Office 2003 to 2010, Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes®, IBM Sametime, and IBM Lotus Symphony™.
IBM Sametime Advanced :
Unified communications and collaboration core capabilities:
Secure, enterprise instant messaging
Federation with Public Instant Messaging services
File and folder transfer options
Integrated Voice (VoIP) and desktop video
Mobile device support
Open APIs and an extensible client
Online meetings - Persistent meeting rooms with native and third-party audio and video from both the rich client and the browser-based desktop meeting experience.
Instant share - Share or remotely control a computer desktop with colleagues.
Persistent group chat rooms - Create, enter, read, and contribute to ongoing chats at any time from the rich client or a browser. Users can be alerted to new content, events, and people in the chat room.
Broadcast communities - Create and subscribe to real-time channels devoted to various topics. Channel subscribers receive real-time alerts, ask questions via Skill Tap, interact with experts, create and respond to real-time polls, and join online group conversation.
Organizational tree view - Leverage an organizational tree view of your contacts to see the reporting structure of your company based on the corporate directory.
Bandwidth management - Bandwidth limits can be set to constrain the overall amount of audio and video on the network consumed by Sametime. Administrators can set policies to control bandwidth based on classes of users and locations.
IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client
IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client license enables the Sametime Connect rich client software to make and receive telephony and video calls when configured with a certified telephony or audio video environment.
addition to the rich set of social collaboration capabilities
independently offered by IBM Connections and IBM Sametime, IBM
Connections Suite V1.0 allows you to take advantage of existing points
Presence and awareness - Know if someone is available without leaving your IBM Connections environment.
collaboration - Leverage IBM Sametime broadcast channels to reach out
to IBM Connections Community members in real time with Instant Broadcast
Announcements, Broadcast Chats, and Polls.
card integration - Leverage business cards in IBM Connections and IBM
Sametime to see a person's availability and to access that person's
profile, blogs, wikis, communities, and more. Launch a chat session
directly from the business card by right-clicking on the person's name.
Here are a few examples of how these products can be used together:
From IBM Sametime
Reach out to the members of your IBM Connections community with instant broadcasts, polling, and announcements
Utilize a dedicated persistent chat room or meeting room with its own content library
Engage with compelling native and third-party audio and video in both the IBM Sametime rich client and browser-based online meetings
From within your IBM Connections environment
Determine if someone is available via presence awareness
Hover over an individual's name, and from the pop up business card, click to chat or start an instant meeting
With an additional click, move to a video or voice chat from the Sametime rich client chat window
From a user's IBM Connections business card in the IBM Sametime rich client chat window
Share or record your communication by adding your chat transcript to a relevant IBM Connections community forum or activity with a click of a button in the chat window
From the business card click to quickly see your chat partner's blogs, profiles, activities, bookmarks, communities, and more
From within an IBM Connections community
Access and use content libraries that leverage the capabilities of IBM FileNet Content Manager
Create, view, access, and manage corporate content and associated metadata stored in IBM FileNet Content Manager
So, now that I’ve admitted to becoming a video convert - my team seems to think I’m ready to become a regular blogger…… Next thing you know, they’ll be expecting me to be tweeting hourly! We’ll see – maybe a video blog entry is the next logical step. No time like the present to jump on the social bandwagon!
Last week, I shared some of my personal experiences and the value I realized from using Sametime 9 video. I thought this week, I would take a few minutes to pop the hood and give you a look at the engine.
The awesome video experience you’ve heard so much about is due to the addition of two new server components and the introduction of a new media framework in our clients. Sametime 9 AV is based on the H.264 SVC technology.
SVC stands for Scalable Video Coding, which enables efficient encoding of video that can be realized at different resolutions, frame rates and quality. Each video image is organized into layers – and a client can request one or more. When bandwidth is scarce, the client can request fewer layers. The SVC client also has the ability to request video from multiple participants and then build the continuous presence view locally. Within Sametime Conferencing and Sametime Complete, individual Sametime users have the ability to choose the layout they would like to see.
The Sametime Video MCU (VMCU) is a software based MCU (Multipoint Control Unit) – commonly referred to as a “video bridge”. The VMCU does not do any transcoding of video which makes it highly scalable. With Sametime’s authorized user licensing model – and Sametime 9’s inclusion of external participants – Sametime customer are also able to deploy as many VMCU’s in as many locations as they choose to best suit their needs.
Sametime’s implementation of SVC supports multiple resolutions and temporal layers. Sametime clients choose the resolutions and bit rates they want. The base layer is H.264 AVC.
In a multipoint Sametime 9 video call, each client transmits a video stream consisting of multiple resolutions and temporal layers.Each client then decides which streams they want, and how to display them. They may request a number of media streams based on the client's capabilities.
In the example to the right, user 1 has chosen to view user 3 in an Active Speaker Wide format – while user 2 & 3 have chosen grid format seeing both other participants uniformly. In this example user 3 may be bandwidth constrained and has only requested the base layer.
Because the base layer is H.264 AVC, Sametime 9 is also compatible with AVC endpoints – which means it’s backward compatible with Sametime 8.5.2 clients and interoperable with H.264 AVC video endpoints.
The example to the left, shows an AVC endpoint participating in a Sametime 9 video call. The video transmitted by the AVC client will be sent to any SVC client that requests it and those users will be able to see user 2 in their continuous presence view. Since the Sametime MCU does not do any transcoding of the video, it will send only a single “base layer to the AVC client. As a result, user 2 will always see the active speaker.
This would allow you to deploy your Sametime 9 video – and still support those users who may not yet have the new client. However, once they find out what they are missing – believe me, they will want the Sametime 9 client!
Now that you’ve got an idea of how the new Sametime SVC based clients work with the VMCU – let’s me tell you a bit about the two server components and how they can be deployed.
In addition to the Sametime VMCU, we also introduced the Sametime Video Manager (VMGR) in Sametime 9. The VMGR is part of the Sametime Media Manager install package.
Unlike Sametime 8.5.2, the video infrastructure in Sametime 9 can be globally distributed. The VMGR can be deployed in a cluster for scalability and reliability. VMCUs can be deployed in pools. The VMU pools can span geographies. A pool of VMCUs is managed by a single VMGR or a cluster. The VMGR will assign conferences to a particular VMCU based on load and policy.
As I noted last week, Sametime 9 video on the surface is all about rich engagement via a high quality continuous presence video experience which can boost the effectiveness of your workforce. Today, I wanted to give you a glimpse that behind that pretty face – Sametime 9 video also brings critical new features behind the scenes such as efficient use of bandwidth, compatibility with AVC clients, global distribution, and scalability and reliability.
On behalf of the entire IBM Unified Communication & Collaboration organization, I am pleased to introduce IBM Sametime 8.5.2 (Standard, Advanced and SUT). This is an absolutely jam packed release that continues to deliver against our "UC2" vision. More importantly, this release helps position Sametime as a critical part of your Social Business Platform... making it possible to find, reach and collaborate with your colleagues, customers and partners when and how it is most beneficial.
Here's an overview of whats new in this release:
New in Audio / Video (av):
Native and third-party audio and video in browser-based online meetings. Sametime 8.5 made it easy to access meetings through the Connect client or through a browser. Now we've added audio video to the browser experience. You can leverage our own native capabilities (up to 20 people with switched video) or use third party audio, video conferencing and telepresence systems for more robust capabilities. Either way, all it takes is a a small browser plug-in (2 mb).
Standard-based Network Address Translation (NAT) support and Firewall traversal for Audio & Video. This bit of infrastructure makes it easy to use av with customers, partners and anyone outside of your network.
Bandwidth management tools to protect the network by managing audio and video usage. Protect your mission critical applications by controlling how much bandwidth is allocated to av overall, how much is allocated to different classes of users and locations and politely prevent av sessions from connecting if there is inadequate bandwidth.
Support for dual Telephone Conferencing Service Provider Interface (TCSPI) adapters. This enables simultaneous integration with multiple audio and video conferencing systems and gives users the choice of which makes the most sense for them.
New in Mobility:
A new Sametime client for Google Android devices Text to speech reads you incoming messages, embed images in Sametime chats, update your location through the phone's GPS and initiate SUT calls.
A new Sametime Meeting client for Research In Motion (RIM) Blackberry devices
New in Telephony:
SUT Lite Client License An easy way to get started down the UC path, this new license turns your Sametime Connect client into a simple softphone. It requires minimal configuration (a SIP trunk from the Sametime Media Manager) to make or receive voice or video calls.
Intelligent number recognizers within the chat window. Sametime will now recognize phone numbers sent to you via instant message and let you click on them to dial.
Active speaker notification in ad-hoc conference calls
SUT Dialer on Google Android devices Change your preferred SUT device and initiate SUT calls while mobile. Call recipients will see your unified number and other Sametime users will see when you are on the phone.
New in Sametime Advanced
An infrastructure refresh that improves both scalability and deployability. Sametime Advanced helps you interact with communities of users (for example, your IBM Connections Communities) in real time. A great way to tap into experts you don't personally know right when you need them.
Yesterday as part of the IBM Sametime 8.5.2 release, we introduced the IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client (aka "SUT Lite Client") This offering provides an exciting opportunity for customers to start down the UC path. This new communication option, lets users make and receive voice and video calls from their desktops using the Sametime Connect Client as a rich, standards-based audio/video softphone.
As a video endpoint, the SUT Lite client allows users to make and receive video calls with other video end-points, including conference rooms and telepresence systems, other software clients, desktop and deskside video hardware units, and video media control units (MCUs). Using video conferencing can reduce the need for face to face meetings, thus reducing the loss in productivity and costs of travel, and enabling more engaged interaction than a audio-only experience. As this is enabled from the Sametime Connect client, the users access this added functionality as part of the same familiar Sametime UC experience
Likewise, for voice calls, SUT Lite client acts as a softphone that can be used from virtually anywhere a user has internet connectivity. On the road, making calls directly from the computer can reduce costs by avoiding long distance charges, cellular costs, including roaming costs which can be quite high when traveling internationally.
Users have easy access to softphone controls including incoming call notification, click2call, dial, hang-up, volume control, and mute. As users need the features of a full SUT license (move calls from device to device, single-number reach based on location and context, visual conferencing, etc.), they can upgrade without major changes to the user experience.
The IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client is easy to deploy and does not require any additional hardware or software over Sametime Standard. It simply requires a SIP trunk to be configured between the Sametime Media Manager and a certified SIP environment.
On behalf of the entire Sametime team, I am pleased to announce that Sametime 8.5 will be available for download on December 22nd. Happy Holidays!
IBM Lotus Sametime 8.5
represents the next generation of unified communications and collaboration
software. As you can see, we've packed in quite a bit into this release:
A new online meeting experience that is integrated into the IBM Lotus Sametime Connect
client. Join a meeting with a single click. Easily invite others by dragging
their names from the contact list. Accept meeting invitations with a single
click. Upload meeting materials via simple drag and drop.
New zero-download, browser-based chat and meeting clients that extend
the desktop experience to wherever the user is working.
A new standards-based audio and video infrastructure that enables more seamless interoperability
with third party audio and video conferencing systems.
New audio and video codecs that provide higher quality native voice and
video services for a more compelling collaborative experience out-of-the-box.
New Web 2.0 APIs that let developers embed Sametime capabilities into Web sites
and applications so users switch context less.
A new, browser-based Apple iPhone chat client, support for the Blackberry
Storm, and an improved mobile client for Microsoft® Windows® Mobile devices.
New social views that make it easier to find the people you collaborate
with the most.
Deeper integration with Microsoft and Lotus products
A new System Console that centralizes infrastructure configuration, deployment,
management, and policy management for all Sametime services.
We'll be exploring all of these capabilities in the new year... but Sametime 8.5 is really about simplicity. Simplicity promotes adoption and adoption creates return on investment. Ask yourself these questions: How often do you loose the first ten minutes of a meeting providing instructions on how to log into the web conference? Have you invested in video conferencing systems that sit unused because no one knows they're there or how to use them? Do you want to deliver unified communications services into the applications your employees already use? Do you have a mix of communication and collaboration systems that are difficult to use, isolated and underutilized? If so, Sametime 8.5's unified user experience and open integration can help make UC simple for users, leverage those existing investments and drive real business value.
We have great news for you today. Over the week-end, we enhanced IBM SmartCloud for Social Business with a brand new capability: audio-video calling.
First, let’s start with a quick reminder on what you were able to experience in the IBM cloud over the past few month. SmartCloud users have been able to chat with other users, transfer files between each other, and – my personal favorite – they can dynamically select and share a portion of their desktop. So, if I want to quickly show you any part of my desktop, I can do it in one click. And I could perform all of these actions just using a browser or a mobile device.
With this latest update, we are now adding one-to-one audio-video calling to instant messaging. How this works is very simple. Let’s imagine that you and I are starting a chat (of course, with a very polite “hi…”). You will now see two new buttons in your chat window: one to start an audio-video call, and one to start an audio-only call. After you click on the video button, I can accept the request, and both of us can see each other in a quality video call.
And if you - or I - would like to skip the camera – trust me there are many times when I am not ready for it – then we can just talk to each other. From computer to computer. Simple. For that, we both just need a browser.
The mobile client (iOS or Android) will soon be available in your favorite app. store. We will let you know in this blog when it is available for download.
So is this a big deal ?
Oh... Yes… We believe that the use of video is critical to collaboration and social. There are many situations where a quick talk, or engaging in a video conversation, is much more efficient that a text-based chat. Every time you need to show something real (as opposed to virtual…), a whiteboard, a paper-based drawing, or a piece of high-tech equipment, a video is worth a thousand words (and even less when you have to type all these words on your tiny phone).
And there are so many other ways to leverage quality video when you need to better communicate with someone else: for an interview, or for a 1-1 meeting with your new boss... Seeing someone is key to establishing trust, or not…
So, if you want to get a first-hand experience at this new video experience, here is a video interview that was recently recorded.
There is one more SmartCloud enhancement that I will cover in my next blog. For now, go ahead and jump on the cloud to try this new browser-based video experience.
#ucoms As you are hopefully aware, we made many enhancements in Sametime 8.5.2 that help you collaborate more effectively and easily with colleagues outside your firewall. Sametime 8.5.2 browser-based meetings with audio
and video can help you build deeper relationships with customers and business partners, eliminate
expensive monthly fees from hosted meeting services, and reduce the need for audio conferencing, voicemail, and even travel. If those weren't reason enough to buy now, here's one more.
For a limited time, the commercial IBM Passport Advantage® Relationship
Suggested Volume Prices (RSVP) and Passport Advantage Express® Suggested Retail Price (SRP) for
selected eligible new IBM Sametime Standard
for Extranet Processor Value Unit and Sametime Advanced Extranet Processor Value
Unit products have been reduced by 75%. This means it's now more cost-effective than ever to experience rich online collaboration with customers, partners, vendors and more.
Orders must be received by IBM on or after August 2, 2011 but no later than December 31, 2011. This discount is available worldwide except in Japan.
***UPDATED 2011-08-12*** For a list of eligible products, and additional details, restrictions, applicability, and all the standard legal boilerplate fine-print, please refer to the specific links provided below:
We've tried to make it as easy as possible for existing Sametime customers to start adopting the new Sametime 9 packaging and licensing options. Where possible, we've given customers usage rights and functionality in their new Sametime 9 editions that is equal to or greater than what they had before. We've also automated the process of migrating entitlements from the Sametime 8.5 packaging model to the Sametime 9.0 model so that most customers don't even need to think about it. Unfortunately none of that may be obvious from the cryptic Sametime 8.0 and 8.5 End of Market announcement that we use to trigger the entitlement migrations on the IBM Passport Advantage system. As a result, the purpose of this post is to provide existing Sametime customers with a Q&A that explains - in plain English - how they will be moved to the Sametime 9 packaging model.
What happens if I have Sametime Standard, Sametime Standard Extension, Sametime Advanced, or Sametime Advanced Extension entitlements?
Customers with Sametime Standard, Sametime Standard Extension, Sametime Advanced, and Sametime Advanced Extension entitlements in good standing will have those entitlements automatically migrated to full use Sametime Complete entitlements, one-for-one, effective September 20, 2013. In addition, any prepaid maintenance will be automatically brought forward to the new entitlement. For example, a customer with 500 Sametime Standard AU entitlements with 6 months of prepaid maintenance will, as of September 20, 2013, have 500 Sametime Complete AU entitlements with 6 months of prepaid maintenance.
Customers who have had their entitlements automatically migrated to Sametime Complete entitlements will not only have access to the Sametime Complete 9.0 code on Passport Advantage, but also all the Sametime 8.5 code that they had access to prior to the entitlement migration. For example, a customer who had Sametime Advanced entitlements will be able to download and use both the Sametime Advanced 8.5 and Sametime Complete 9.0 code. This example underscores an important point: The entitlement migration has ZERO impact on the code customers must run and customers are free to move to Sametime 9.0 code at their own pace - even if that means staying on Sametime 8.5 code until it goes End of Support. Furthermore, existing customers running Sametime 8.5 code that require additional entitlements can do so simply by purchasing the corresponding number of Sametime Complete entitlements.
What happens if I have Sametime Unified Telephony entitlements?
Customers who have Sametime Unified Telephony entitlements will continue to retain those entitlements in Sametime 9. Customers with those entitlements in good standing will be able to access both the 8.5 and 9.0 versions of that code on Passport Advantage after September 20, 2013.
What happens if I have Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client entitlements?
The Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client functionality is now included in Sametime Communicate 9.0 and Sametime Complete 9.0 at no additional charge. As a result, the Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client part numbers will be withdrawn. Customers with these entitlements in good standing will still be able to access the Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client 8.5 enablement script on Passport Advantage after September 20, 2013.
What happens if I have Sametime Standard Extranet or Sametime Advanced Extranet entitlements?
The internal-to-external collaboration functionality that came with Sametime Standard Extranet and Sametime Advanced Extranet is now included in Sametime Communicate 9.0, Sametime Conference 9.0, and Sametime Complete 9.0 at no additional charge. As a result, the Sametime Standard Extranet and Sametime Advanced Extranet new license and reinstatement part numbers will be withdrawn. The maintenance part numbers will be maintained however for customers that are taking advantage of external-to-external collaboration. Customers with these entitlements in good standing will still be able to access the Sametime Standard Extranet 8.5 and/or Sametime Advanced Extranet 8.5 code on Passport Advantage after September 20, 2013.
What happens if I have Sametime Entry entitlements?
We believe customers with Sametime Entry will find Sametime Communicate 9.0 or Sametime Complete 9.0 to be more desirable alternatives. We'd ask these customers to contact their IBM representative to discuss these alternatives. The Sametime Entry part numbers will be withdrawn. Customers in good standing will continue to have access to the Sametime Entry 8.5 code on Passport Advantage after September 20, 2013.
What happens if I have Lotus Web Conferencing entitlements?
We believe many Lotus Web Conferencing customers will find their use cases, including internal-to-external collaboration, are now satisfied by Sametime Conference 9.0 and Sametime Complete 9.0. As a result, the Lotus Web Conferencing new license and reinstatement part numbers will be withdrawn. The maintenance part number will be maintained however for customers that continue to require this software. We'd ask these customers to contact their IBM representative to discuss alternatives. Customers with these entitlements in good standing will continue to have access to the Lotus Web Conferencing 8.5 code on Passport Advantage after September 20, 2013.
What happens if I have entitlements to IBM Collaborations Solutions software that bundles Sametime?
Customers with entitlements to IBM Collaborations Solutions software that bundles Sametime (e.g. IBM Notes) will not be impacted by the announce of Sametime 9 or the End of Market of the Sametime 8.5 editions. These customers can continue to use the Sametime 8.5 software included with their IBM Collaborations Solutions bundle until that bundle goes End of Support. We are also working with IBM Collaborations Solutions software development teams on plans to get limited use Sametime 9.0 software included in upcoming versions of their bundles. Customers will be able to start using the Sametime 9.0 software when they deploy those bundles.
Hopefully this post has helped existing Sametime customers understand how they will be transitioned to the new Sametime 9 packaging model. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me directly or post your question to the comments section below.
So you want an easy entry point to bring VoIP into your enterprise? As you heard from our May 18 announcement, we added the IBM Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client license to our Sametime product family. This easy-to-deploy VoIP solution quickly adds many softphone capabilities directly to your users' desktops right from their Sametime Connect client. We just posted a demonstration of how this works to YouTube. Take a look, and let us know what you think!
Brian Pearson, IBM Executive Collaboration Solutions Advocate, has been building out a "Social Business Everywhere" video series. As part of that, he just released a 3-part demo video series showcasing IBM Collaboration Solutions integrations of IBM Sametime, IBM Connections, IBM Lotus Quickr and more to Microsoft productivity applications, including Office, Outlook and SharePoint. As Brian states in the opening of Part 1:
"...we believe collaboration isn't encapsulated in a single product or single site; as this demonstration will show, we believe in bringing collaborative services to the environments in which you work: in this case, Microsoft tools."
With these videos, you can see IBM's continued commitment to supporting a "social everywhere" environment. supporting multiple platforms and environments.
Part 1 opens with an overview of the IBM integration value proposition, and moves into integration of IBM Sametime presence, chat, web meetings, and audio and video, into Microsoft Outlook.
Part 2 looks at Sametime Unified Telephony integration with Microsoft Outlook, and moves to Social Applications in Outlook, including IBM Connections and content management.
Part 3 looks at integration with Microsoft Office, content management in Windows Explorer, and integration with Microsoft SharePoint.
While we strive to create a unified user experience for our Sametime users, on the back-end there are a lot of moving parts required to make a unified communications deployment running smoothly. To make it easier for Sametime administrators and developers to monitor what's going on and take pro-active steps to keep everything running at its best, Jim Dewan, a Lotus Services Fulfillment Specialist, developed a great free tool called Watchit (you can download the tool and a full article describing it from IBM developerWorks Lotus library here).
This article describes (and provides) a simple lightweight proactive
tool to assist administrators in better understanding the Lotus
Sametime user experience to reduce outages, respond to issues more
quickly, and improve the customer experience. In addition to monitoring
capabilities, this tool can assist in debug collection and take the
burden off users for problem recreates and data collection. By
combining network validation with Lotus Sametime IM, user awareness,
user login, and username look-up validation, never before has such a
complete picture of the user experience been available. By reducing outages, calls to the Help Desk, and anticipating problems, you can save money and improve user satisfaction with your Sametime deployments.
Since the article was first published, we've made some new additions to it, the result of stress tests with some of our own clients' major deployments. Additional improvements include:
LDAP monitoring plug-in: test bind and search requests to back-end LDAP servers to ensure connectivity and performance thresholds are met
Heartbeat plug-in: contact Watchit instance to ensure it is running
Exclude hosts to be network alerted on, or add maintance windows: it's important to exclude network validation of ports or hosts when those servers are down for maintenance
e-mail alerting: in addition to IM alerting, you can also set up e-mail alerts for off-hour notifications or paging
Sametime, since the 7.5 days, has allowed users to access its basic presence and chat features from a variety of mobile devices. It allows us mobile people to not only reach others in an effective manner (it seems I am constantly getting off a plane and seeing who is available to me right now to deal with whatever issues are top of mind). But it also gives others more accurate information about when and how I can be reached... making presence a universal dial-tone, rather than one that is accurate only when I am at my desktop.
Sametime 8.5.2 extends native presence/chat to new platforms...specifically the great variety of Android devices that are sweeping the marketplace and filling our pockets and briefcases. And you Apple fan boys and girls (I am now officially one, having gotten my first Mac and iPhone within the last month) will see enhanced capabilities on iOS in the near future...watch this space!
But Sametime 8.5.2 goes beyond adding Android and paving the way for iOS devices. It is the beginning of a whole new approach to our increasingly mobile world. For example, we mobile folks can not only do IM functions, but Sametime meetings can now be attended from the mobile devices -- first from Blackberry, with Android and iOS to follow (you just have to experience a Sametime Web Conference on an iPad!)...watch this space!
With Sametime 8.5.2 we even have SUT on mobile devices. Previously, your mobile phone could certainly be a preferred device, with calls being routed to it by Sametime-contextual rules (geographic location, availability, etc.). And you could move calls to you mobile phone (and back again) from any other device. And you could even click-to-call someone and have your mobile phone be the one you use to talk and listen. However, you could not initiate an SUT call from the mobile phone (this was possible only from the Sametime desktop client). With the Sametime 8.5.2 native Android client, SUT users can initiate a call to any Sametime contact, Android contact, or phone number. This call is actually handled by SUT, ringing back the caller on the mobile phone and then completing the call to the other party. The advantages are: The caller shows as "on the phone" to other Sametime users The incoming caller ID shown is the caller's SUT unified number (not the mobile carrier number) Enterprise dial plans can be used for least-cost routing and roaming/toll charge avoidance
Of course, if you are interested in SUT calling capabilities on iOS...watch this space!
Finally, there are a couple of features of the Sametime 8.5.2 native mobile client that are particularly significant. These include using the phone's GPS for (optionally) showing location, converting incoming text chats to speech (e.g., when you are driving), and taking a picture with the mobile phone and including it in the chat you have with another Sametime user. This last capability, while not earth-shattering in itself, may be the most significant one we have ever delivered in Sametime mobile. That is because historically our mobile apps tried to emulate what you do on the desktop...taking into account mobile form factor and connectivity. The add photo to chat feature is the first one that rather than taking a desktop collaboration feature and adding it to mobile, takes a mobile feature and uses it for collaboration. This indeed is the hallmark of the new era of mobile UCC.
Those of you who saw it at Lotusphere 2012 have been waiting for it. Those of you who didn't will be as excited to know that the IBM Sametime Video Chat Widget for IBM Connections just came out today. It's a technology preview that provides an easy way to associate a Sametime audio/video session with an IBM Connections Community page.
The plug-in is available on developerWorks. You can find it here.
Great news! The new IBM® Serviceability Tool for Sametime® (version 8.5.2.x) is now available for download. V8.5.2.x is the first release of this tool and it will be enhanced by IBM Sametime Development with periodic updates. The IBM Serviceability Tool consists of the following four components.
Sametime Configuration Validator
The Sametime Configuration Validator is a plug-in designed to load the entire configuration information for your Sametime environment, and validate the configuration. It examines configuration settings to verify consistency, and then produces a Configuration Report.
Sametime Support Bot
The Sametime Support Bot plug-in provides a Sametime bot within a Sametime Community. Sametime users can contact the Sametime bot and receive automated responses that can be used for troubleshooting or for reporting a Sametime issue. Data is collected, and then administrators can generate a PDF report of the collected data to submit to IBM Support.
Sametime Community Monitoring
The Sametime Community Monitoring plug-in provides a view for monitoring the Sametime Community Statistics generated. Updates can be configured from 5 secs to 10 minutes. The administrator can monitor multiple Sametime Community Servers and see totals, such as current log-ins for example, across all servers and for individual servers. This component is for live monitoring only.
Sametime Deployment Planner
The Sametime Deployment Planner is a plug-in that helps to expose what the new 8.5.x product servers and features have to offer. Additionally, it reveals tips and tricks for successfully planning and deploying the environment.
Supported Sametime Versions
This tool is designed for use with all Sametime components versions 8.5 and later as well as Sametime Community 8.0, and later.
How to get it
Access the downloads from the IBM Serviceability Tool for Sametime Community on IBM Greenhouse:
Feedback such as information on problems, enhancement requests, and usability concerns can be posted to the IBM Serviceability Tool for Sametime community on IBM Greenhouse. IBM reviews all feedback but makes no commitments regarding changes to the product or its documentation.
I'm happy to announce that the new IBM Sametime Widgets for IBM Connections are available for download from the IBM Collaboration Solutions Catalog in Greenhouse. As you know this is a new way for us to distribute new capabilities and we're very excited about these particular offerings.
As promised, we're delivering three widgets: Video Chat, Chat Rooms and Meeting Rooms. These widgets are designed to work in the context of Connections Communities. They bring Sametime audio and video, persistent chat rooms and meeting rooms to community members right from the IBM Connections user interface.
This is one more step on our quest to offer close integration with IBM Connections. As you all know we started with Sametime Meetings integration with Connections Files on IBM SmartCloud and on mobile clients. We also provide integration with Connections Profiles on Sametime mobile clients. Well, this is yet another milestone in our roadmap. There's more to come in the future.
In the meantime, check the widgets out, let us know what you think and don't hesitate to ping us if you run into any issues with them. The nice thing about distributing through the Solutions Catalog is that we can update them as often as needed.
I'm still playing catch up from Lotusphere (maybe next weekend, after
some of the adrenaline subsides I'll play "rest up") but I wanted to pop
in here for a quick blog post. WOWWW. That was an amazingly insanely
fantastic Lotusphere experience. Thanks to all of you!
I know I'm a Lotus Geek because I'm watching the Super
Bowl tomorrow because Sametime is there! I'm a Dolphin Fan. They
For those of you that were not at Lotusphere that are loyal blog
readers, Sametime has gone Social and is going to the Super Bowl The
very beginning of the closing session was a demo of Sametime being
utilized at the Superbowl for real time security communications. This is
a clear example that Sametime or UCC is the "Action" in a Social
Imagine the challenge of keeping over 100,000
people safe with a vast array of emergency teams ready to respond and
take action at one of the most popular events of the year.
You need a real time communications system to take action right now and
the right person and get the right response.
This is a social network with real implications.
Traditionally you have multiple agencies operating on different systems and on
different radio frequencies. We bring these disparate systems together with a solution called
Radio Connect from UnifiedEdge based on IBM Sametime Standard.
RadioConnect for Sametime has been successfully deployed as a permanent
technology component in the Joint Emergency Operations Center at the City of
Fort Worth, Texas reaching tens of thousands of workers. And this Sunday - it is being used to bring
together 60 different agencies on multiple radio frequencies in the most important game in American Football
– the Super Bowl.
We're proud to announce availability of the new IBM Sametime Meetings Statistics Utility.
The IBM Sametime Meetings Statistics Utility is a server-side enterprise
application that is installed on an IBM Sametime Meetings Server. The
application samples values for total rooms, active rooms, unused rooms,
active users, library count, and library size once a minute and stores
the values in a new database table. The application also provides the
ability to generate HTML reports based on these values grouped by
various time periods (hour, day, month, year).
This is a technology preview for IBM Sametime Meetings version 8.5.2 IFR 1. It is available for download free of charge at IBM developerWorks (here).
Sheri Branco over at the Sametime Design Blog on IBM developerWorks is asking our users to participate in an online survey. We would like to better understand the relative importance of the tasks you use Sametime for every day. We would love to hear your feedback. Click above to participate.
If you've read the Sametime 8.5 Requirements, you may have noticed that Windows is the only platform listed under the Connect client. As much as it pains me to say this - especially as a long-time Mac user - we've had to hold the Mac & Linux clients. This is simply a point-in-time statement and we intend to release them both in 2010. In the meantime, if you need Mac support in order to deploy Sametime 8.5, please contact me. There is a beta (which I've been using for months) that we will make available in select situations. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the new zero-download browser client, demo'd here.
Now, to keep the lawyers AND the finance folks happy, I am required to add this disclaimer anytime I make statements about future releases:
"The information on the new product is intended to outline our general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new product is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on the new product is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for our products remains at our sole discretion."
#socbiz #ITEXPO FYI, folks. In case you're attending or in case you happen to be in the area, the ITEXPO West 2011 conference is coming to Austin. The conference will take place at the Austin Convention Center from September 13 to 15 and it promises to bring together lots of industry heavyweights as well as interesting newcomers. This year ITEXPO will feature keynotes from IBM (Mike McCarthy, VP of Cloud Computing Services as well as from Polycom and Siemens.
Mike Ross from 4PSA and Tim Wittbrod from Interactive Intelligence will join me in a discussion on one of my favorite topics: the role of unified communications in social work patterns--precisely what I've been blogging about in the last few weeks.
I submitted this topic to the conference back in April (I think). I wanted to discuss the fundamental differences between the natural way in which humans interact, a.k.a. people-to-people interactions and the artificial way in which we've forced ourselves to interact at work. The conference was nice enough to accept my abstract and they invited Mike and Tim to join in.
As you know, we work very closely with Interactive Intelligence and we've talked about people-centric business processes in the context of what we do together. The conference is placing our session under the Social CRM track, which could not be more appropriate. I have not met Tim and Mike but I'm sure this will be a productive and enlightening conversation.
Our session is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13 from 2:30 PM to 3:15 PM. You may also want to check out other sessions from IBM and from our business partners by visiting the conference program page.
I'm happy to report that the IBM Sametime Meetings app for Android is available for download at the Google Play Store. This is a full-fledged meetings client that includes support for IBM SmartCloud for Social Business which, by the way, is now powered by IBM Sametime too.
- Favorite Meeting Rooms view- Creation of meeting reports
- Lecture-style meetings
- Waiting room
- Join by SmartCloud room ID
- View scheduled meetings from your calendar
As with all Sametime Mobile apps, it works with IBM Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1. If you don't have it installed you can connect to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business or to IBM Greenhouse--it actually comes with predefined connectivity to both environments; all you need to do is provide your user ID and password.
Make sure to download it. Play with it and give us a rating (5 stars are very welcome) on the Play Store.
As I blogged about on NoJitter back in June ("The Future of UC is
Social" --> http://www.nojitter.com/blog/229900178?queryText=the+future+of+UC+is+social
), I disagree with the premise that it's either UC or social
collaboration, but not both. Enterprises for some time have been asking
to make UC part of a broader collaboration environment, including newer
collaboration capabilities such as blogs, wikis, forums and communities.
Users want a variety of tools to use, and more importantly, the ability
to pivot between various tools depending on the circumstances they're
in, and from the applications and environments they're working from,
whether business process applications, mobile device, e-mail client, web
application, etc. And many analysts have been seeing the same thing; I
believe Gartner just recently said by 2014 more than 20% of business
users will use social networks as their primary communication hubs, and
separately said that the distinction between UC and collaboration will
disappear altogether by 2013.
I also believe that, while many
recent UC startups and cloud offerings in the consumer space are
spurring innovation, the levels of security, policy management and other
administration features demanded by enterprises are going to stay out
of reach for many consumer-focused UC and collaboration vendors -- cloud
or on premises. Social collaboration, including voice and video,
generates a certain level of agida on the part of enterprise Legal, IT,
and Finance that has to be addressed by any serious vendor.
Microsoft and Cisco are by no means the only vendors integrating social
collaboration with unified communications. IBM has been doing this at
least since the launch of IBM Connections several years ago. Integration
with other IBM applications as well as with best-of-breed applications
and platforms through open standards-based APIs, has been the hallmark
of the IBM approach for some time.
What do you think? How fast do you think UC is merging with other collaboration tools? What are examples in your environments where this is -- or isn't -- happening?
We just released a new app: the IBM Sametime Meetings Viewer for iPad. It is available for download at the iTunes Store.
As with all Sametime mobile applications, this one requires a full-fledged Sametime infrastructure in the back end (we recommend moving up to 8.5.2 IFR 1). If you don't have that you can always point the app to Greenhouse.
Thanks to our partners at BelSoft AG for recording and publishing this video:
As Lisa mentioned in her last posting, IBM Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 also brings support for browser access to meetings on Android tablets and iPads. Just so you can see how cool that is, here's a couple of screenshots.
First, this is what a browser-based meeting looks like on an iPad:
I'm happy to let you guys know we have published a new tool designed to help expedite deployment of Sametime server components. The tool is called IBM Sametime Configuration Validator. It's an Eclipse-based tool that our support team developed initially for internal use and now, after some scrubbing and polishing, we're making it available to customers and business partners. Thanks to Jeff Miller and the rest of the team for such a good job.
IBM Sametime Configuration Validator does something very simple yet very useful. It harvests the entire configuration of a Sametime environment and validates the settings against a standard validation profile based on best practices and known settings. What it does is totally deterministic, i.e., total grunt work, and very powerful because now you don't have to do it manually.
The tool generates reports that tell you how the configuration stands against the standard profile and points out potential problems you may encounter. The report doesn't necessarily tell you that there's something wrong with your configuration. But, based on what's known to work, it'll tell you whether something may potentially go awry. That way you can nip any bad mojo in the bud and go back to relaxing.
The IBM Sametime Configuration Validator is available for download from the Sametime Wiki. You can find it here.
Whether an organization is starting a new Unified Communications (UC) project or they have already deployed some UC capability, a Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) based infrastructure can significantly drive down costs and provide greater flexibility for the future. This white paper, authored by IBM Research and GTS experts, examines the impact a SIP-based architecture can have on all aspects of the business - the infrastructure, applications and process layers of the organization. The paper explores the business and technical implications of this transformation from a services perspective and describes how a structured approach is necessary for organizations to extract the full value of the new SIP technology.
I think I've said many times here that we envision the next generation of Sametime to be heavily influenced by the tablet usability paradigm. We are spending lots of time studying what people do with tablets today, how the usability pattern will evolve in the near future and what new capabilities software programs will have to include in order to accommodate the transition from mouse-and-click to finger-and-gesture as the main interaction vehicle with the glass.
As part of that research I've gone tablet myself. I got me a very nice 10-inch tablet running Android 3.2 and I've been working on figuring out how it fits into my daily work routine. The first thing I did was install Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1, Lotus Traveler and the Lotus Symphony Reader. I haven't installed Connections yet but I will soon.
So far, I have to say I am equipped to go on a business trip without my laptop. The tablet gives me pretty much what I need with the exception of authoring documents and presentations. Authoring content is still easier to do, for now, on a laptop running a legacy operating system. Applications such as Symphony and MS Office are definitely designed for the mouse-and-click paradigm and it's very hard to use them when all you have is your finger.
I think this is a point-in-time issue that will get resolved soon. I know Apple already has an office suite called iWorks that allows you to create content, including presentations, on your iPad. I know there are at least two other office suites for iOS that have good potential. For Android there's QuickOffice Pro and OfficeSuite Professional, both of which allow you to create and edit MS Office documents. I haven't found a product that handles ODF, though.
I'm not stressing about not finding an office suite that I can run locally on my tablet, though. Storage is limited on a tablet and I wouldn't want to crowd it with lots of files that I may only need sporadically. I like the fact that the tablet forces me to narrow my context and helps me focus on what I need to work on. Instead of carrying my 500-GB hard drive with me (I thought about that), I can focus on just taking what I need--as opposed to my entire digital life--with me. I can upload just the files I need (and nothing else) onto the tablet's SD card (I got a 16-GB Class 10 card) and go.
There are a few "mainstay" files I always need ("What's New in IBM Sametime", "The IBM Sametime and SUT Roadmap", etc.). These are files that I'm updating constantly and it wouldn't make sense to have outdated copies on my tablet's SD card. The solution lies in the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business (LotusLive) Connector for Lotus Symphony. Whenever I update one of those files, I upload the new version to my file repository. That way, if all I'm carrying with me is my tablet, I can just log into my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account and get what I need.
This brings me to what may turn out to be the utilization paradigm that will make tablets stick: cloud.I have to confess that before getting this tablet I hadn't found a mission-critical reason to make daily use of my IBM SmartCloud for Social Business account (I didn't even remember my password!). Now I don't think I can rely on my tablet without it. The most interesting thing is that I don't need a VPN client to have access to it. In the future, once IBM Docs supports Android, having an office suite will be a non-issue.
At this point the experience has been positive. I can do most of my work from my tablet and I could take measures to minimize the impact of the things I cannot do. I could, for instance, upload the 12-or-so GB worth of files sitting in my hard drive's My Documents library to my tablet's SD card if I have to. I could install a VPN client on my tablet and get to all the internal sites I don't have access to just yet, or I could get me one of those RDP apps that would allow me to access my laptop from my tablet over the Internet--as long as IBM IT is OK with me doing that.
This experience is also giving me valuable insight into how Sametime will fit into this equation. The dynamics of "current context", i.e., what's in the foreground, will change and, with it, how we experience situational awareness. We'll have to rethink what the idea of "presence" means, what kind of information becomes pertinent at a given time and whether it merits to be shown, and how we enable real-time communication among users and devices. It's challenging and interesting.
The most important point of all this is that, for the first time, there's a lightweight computing platform with enough potential to replace traditional PCs. Based on what I saw there were more tablets than laptops at Lotusphere this year. That's very encouraging.
This doesn't mean I no longer have a need for a PC; at least not yet. The one thing I still need my laptop for is to play Battlefield 2142 Northern Strike when I travel. I just don't do Angry Birds. I can't; I won't!
IBM Business Partners: please join us on Monday, July 18 for our second in our Living Social webcast series. Presented by Sandy Carter, VP IBM Social Business and Collaboration Solutions
Sales and Evangelism, and Rick Schonbrun, Worldwide Business Unit
Executive for Unified Communications and Collaboration, discuss with IBM and your peers about why IBMers, IBM Business Partners, and our customers are
using the IBM Unified Communications and Collaboration platform to socially connect employees across the enterprise, regardless
of geographic location.
Why Attend? We all need to LIVE social. Your customers and prospects expect you to live as, and not just talk about becoming, a social business. Living social earns you credibility with your customers and opens more doors. It's simple: live social, and close more business.
To accomodate multiple time zones, we have two sessions you can attend (PartnerWorld membership and registration is required):
For years, Lotus Notes has included a basic version of Sametime. It provides simple presence and text chat within the Notes / Domino environment. For online meetings, voice, video, file transfers, screen captures, mobile clients, browser clients, the gateway for public IM federation, etc, etc, etc, users needed a license to Sametime Standard or Advanced. Yet, for some reason, we never had an easy upgrade path in place. Now, we do.
Buried in the Sametime 8.5 Announcement Letter are these new part numbers:
Lotus Sametime Standard Extension from Sametime Limited Entitlement (D0CCALL) (D0CC9LL)
Lotus Sametime Advanced Extension from Sametime Limited Entitlement (D0CCBLL)
They let Notes users 'extend' their Notes licenses with Sametime Standard or Advanced capabilities at a discounted price. While the part numbers are in the Sametime 8.5 Announcement, they
can be used for Sametime Standard 8.0.x or Advanced 8.0.x as well. (Just to be clear, these are just for Notes users and you can only extend the number of Notes licenses you have on active maintenance. For users without Notes, you need a regular Standard or Advanced license.)
But, there you go Notes customers, upgrade to Sametime Standard or Advanced today!
* December 16, 2009 update: Corrected Standard Extension part number.
At TeamPolycom 2011 last week, it was announced that IBM had won the Polycom Open Collaboration Network Partner of the year - North America - award! This is in recognition of our work as one of their key business partners, and of course of the great work our business development and product development teams have done. This is great recognition that IBM Sametime can be a first class participant in meetings using a Polycom MCU or a Polycom end point. The award comes with a nice trophy that we've taken a picture of, above. You can read more about the awards on Polycom's website here.
Hopefully, you had the opportunity to attend yesterday's Social Business launch event. (If not, here's a link to the replay.) The theme was "Reinvent work with the right platform for social business" and I am hoping that you are now - even more - convinced of the value of the IBM social business portfolio. Sure, I would not have minded if the presentations had been sprinkled with a few more mentions of our products, e.g. "Sametime 9 is awesome" or "Sametime 9 is the most important Sametime release EVER" , etc. ... but as we heard yesterday, it's not about the technology, it is about how we use it to transform our business...
My personal favorite from this event was a presentation by Lane Masterson from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who provided a very compelling testimony about the usage of Sametime in his organization. Sametime has become "the primary method of informal communication". Weekly face-to-face meetings that used to be costly and irregularly attended are now becoming more collaborative and efficient, through the use of video conferencing. All of this while reducing travel costs and productivity losses. "Every desktop has become a virtual video-conferencing room". Impressive presentation altogether.
And if you have time, don't forget to check some great stats on their site (random fun fact: it is impressive that over 73% of Australian households have broadband access)
What we also saw yesterday are great demo snippets from Suzanne Livingston and Luis Benitez who provided a small window into what a perfect "day in the life" could be. That is for someone lucky enough to be using the IBM product portfolio, where one can seamlessly flow from social collaboration to ... social communications (with Sametime 9). After these teasers, John Del Pizzo followed up with a breakout session ("Drive business results with the new Sametime 9") on the modern state of communications (Simple, Smart, Social, Secure) and a deeper dive on the new capabilities of Sametime 9.
So what is new in Sametime 9 ?
1. A modern look-and-feel ... with a new interface that reflects the latest mobile design techniques, and an end-to-end user experience that optimizes the flow of how users communicate.
Does not it make sense to enjoy a great experience.... consistent across the devices that you use throughout the day ?
2. A best-of-breed HD audio-video experience with continuous presence for more engaging collaboration.
Don't you think that the breakout session from this morning with John's video was much more compelling than a set of narrated slides ?
3. A very simple all-inclusive offering structure with a built-in extranet model (see previous posts from William Kulju).
No other server, client or device access licenses, and no hidden pre-requisites for other client or server components. It is that simple.
4. And ... even tighter integration into the industry's leading enterprise social networking platform (IBM Connections).
And so much more ...
If you are dying to learn more about Sametime 9... don't worry... we are planning to dive more deeply into some key areas over the next few weeks in this blog. Just to whet your appetite, here are a few teasers. Julie Reed will provide more specifics on the video capabilities and start peeling back the onion (layers) to better understand video standards. Marlon Machado will provide more information on new product features that really matter. We will also shine the light on two critical areas ... mobile and social ... where we want to demonstrate our market leadership.
So come back.. often...
As we are getting hold of these video vignettes of today's event, we will share the links as comments to this blog post.
In case you missed the tweeting a few weeks ago, you should know that a new cloud offering for Unified Communications was launched by IBM (it's us) on April 16th. Under the name "IBM SmartCloud Unified Communications Dedicated", this offering delivers a complete communications suite from a private cloud. This solution is built on enterprise-grade software components, such as: feature rich telephony, instant messaging and presence from IBM Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony, unified messaging from IBM, video integration, and more... A wide variety of communication devices can be made available with softphones, deskphones, and of course, support for smartphones and tablets.
This offering is designed to facilitate the transition to cloud-based telephony, and provides support for flexible deployment models (IBM data centers, or managed on customer premises). This offering is the result of an extended partnership between IBM Collaboration Services (Sametime software) and IBM Global Technology Services (ex: networking and managed services), aimed at delivering a best-of-breed and complete UC solution.
For more information, here is the official IBM announcement (www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?htmlfid=897/ENUS613-002&infotype=AN&subtype=CA). You can expect more news around this new offering over the next few months.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me, or anyone in the Sametime product management team.
I've been doing the rounds across the country (Dallas, Orlando and, today, Chicago) talking about what's new in Sametime 8.5.2. I get questions about what is the main theme for 8.5.2.
As most of you remember, 8.5 was all about meetings. 8.5.1 introduced refinements to that theme by making the meetings experience even easier. 8.5.2 continues to drive along those lines with a special focus on audio and video. So, I can say 8.5.2 is all about the audio and video experience.
This release brings audio and video to the Web meetings client:
Audio and video on Web meetings opens a plethora of new possibilities.
For instance, all you need to do to launch a meeting room enabled for audio and video is embed a URL to the room on your Web page. The Web page may correspond to a portal, a self-service application, a customer service application or anything you want. A Sametime meeting room, being as easy to launch as a chat session, can become your new paradigm for customer service. Why stop at chatting when you can offer your customers a full-blown meeting room?
Bringing audio and video to the Web meetings client provides us with a nice deployment pattern for other capabilities on the Web browser. The browser extension model we're using to deliver the Sametime Web Player is secure, reliable and offers great performance. Unlike our old applet-based approach, You install it once and that's it. It can be downloaded the first time you enter a meeting room or it can be pre-provisioned on the browser by IT.
In addition to delivering audio and video on the Web meetings client, we're also delivering new capabilities that users will only notice if they're not there.
First on the list is NAT traversal, a new component based on the ICE/STUN/TURN standards. The new Sametime TURN Server (I wanted "Stun Server" but apparently there was a risk that no one would come near the thing...) helps Sametime audio and video play nice with firewalls so people can hear and see each other regardless of where they happen to be.
We're also delivering bandwidth management capabilities for audio and video. The new Sametime Bandwidth Manager helps audio and video play nice with the network. We all know audio and video tend to be bandwidth hogs. Bandwidth Manager regulates bandwidth usage to allow other applications to use the network as well.
We're also enhancing our TCSPI adapter model. 8.5.2 allows you to deploy two TCSPI adapters simultaneously. You can deploy, for instance, a third-party video adapter and an audio conferencing bridge adapter concurrently to give users a richer audio and video conferencing experience.
Finally, the new deployment option for the Sametime soft phone (SUT Lite license), allows you to integrate Sametime to certified SIP-based video end points as well as SIP gateways to enable telephone and video calls directly from the Sametime Connect client.
As you can see, we put a lot of effort in making audio and video easier to adopt; in providing a richer experience and in enabling more of the Sametime user interface with audio and video. Notice a trend here? If you do, you'll notice how our focus is turning to audio and video and mobility: we're delivering two new native mobile clients, one for Android, and a meetings client for BlackBerry. Stay tuned and you'll see more of this in upcoming releases.
Following on my December 6 posting on IBM Sametime Meetings for Android, now it's time to let you all know we have posted a major update to our meetings client for iOS.
This is Release 2 for IBM Sametime Meetings for iOS. It replaces our old Meetings Viewer for iOS and, just like all our mobile clients, it requires a full-fledged Sametime infrastructure in the back end. Today that means IBM Sametime v8.5.2 IFR 1. If you don't have it, you can always connect to Greenhouse and, with this release, to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.
For details on all the cool features included in this release please visit the Apple App Store (here).
Today's IBM Business Partner Feature looks at our Sametime integration with Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch 8400. IBM and Alcatel-Lucent provide desktop-level integration to speed decision-making and streamline communications. Integrations include:
OmniTouch sidebar application ("My Instant Communicator") in the Sametime Connect client
One-click calling services
Rich call control, desktop control, and call forwarding
Choice of multiple endpoints
Call notifications, including inbound calls, voicemail, missed calls, callback requests, and more
You can download the Quick Guide from the Alcatel-Lucent website for more information. If you're using this integration today, what do you think about it? Comments are welcome.
I'm about to embark on some design work regarding security models for online meetings. This is an especially fun and challenging design task, since we have many possible options, but presenting them in a straightforward, uncomplicated way to end users can be tricky.
I'd love to hear from some of you regarding which online security capabilities matter most to you, and why. Here are some capabilities that come to mind:
Meeting rooms that are hidden (i.e., people can't find them by searching, except by exact match)
Meeting room passwords, including rules around when they expire
Only authenticated users can join
Meeting participants can join only if the meeting room owner is in the room
Meeting room access control lists (you can only join if your name is in the list)
Locking a room (i.e., no one can enter the room once it is locked)
Which of these do you use? Which of these would you never use?
I've been a fan of Seth Godin since I read is book Permission Marketing, long before I joined the Sametime team. It reinforced for me the power of digital marketing to forge new relationships between vendors and customers. He continues to enlighten and challenge all of us, lately via Seth's Blog. A recent entry, Goodbye to the Office, challenges why we need offices in the first place.
...Factories used to be arranged in a straight line. That's because there was one steam engine, and it turned a shaft. All the machines were set up along the shaft, with a belt giving each of them power. The office needed to be right next to this building, so management could monitor what was going on. 150 years later, why go to work in an office/plant/factory?
He then goes on to enumerate the 7 reasons most companies and workers still think that way. Whether he realizes it or not, I believe his entire thesis is possible because of unified communications and collaboration: tools that are forcing us to fundamentally rethink how we work together, organize ourselves as corporations, work-life balance, and more.
1. That's where the machines are.
As Seth mentioned, if you have a laptop, you have your office. Now, of course the assumption is you're a knowledge worker, and that you have access to a full complement of collaboration tools on your laptop, including VoIP, and a (decent) Wi-Fi connection. But what if you're not a knowledge worker, manager, or executive? The majority of workers are still physically tied to their work locations: construction workers, manufacturing assembly-line workers, nurses, medical technicians, Department of Motor Vehicles reps, pharmacist, truck driver, and so on. Those workers don't use laptops or desktops on a day-to-day basis: they're tied to a specific application appliances or mobile devices -- process control equipment, desktops running SAP or accounting software, UPS scanner, etc. These workers still need to collaborate, now more than ever if your enterprise hopes to keep up with an accelerating world. As we write about often on The SametimeBlog, the promise of UC has to move beyond just rich UC clients on laptops to all sorts of devices and applications (web or cloud-based, packaged, etc.). Communications enabled business processes can bring the promise of UC to the vast majority of workers, not just people like me and most of this (limited) audience.
2. That's where the items I need to work are.
This is more true than ever, as all our data and applications are digitized and surfaced via web-enabled or virtual applications. But see #1 for the caveat: what about the 70%+ workers who are still physically tied to processes and locations? More and more (as Marlon Machado posted here a while), it's less and less about you going to work, and more and more about work coming to you.
3. The boss needs to keep tabs on my productivity.
This is one place where technology has leaped ahead of culture. Rich presence -- including online status (online, offline), geographic location, availability status ("do not disturb", "in a meeting", "at lunch"), telephony status (on the phone), connection device (mobile device, laptop), etc. -- allows you to abstract "work" from "physical location", while paradoxically INCREASING your availability. The challenge isn't the technology per se, it's culture: management still thinks in terms of assembly line ("how can Joe produce my widgets if they're not on the assembly line?") rather than outcomes, which results in that perceived need for visual control. IBM has been an early and avid adopter of remote working, which has given us plenty of time to slowly shift our culture from one of "facetime" to "availability"; as long as I make myself available within the requirements of my particular role, my management chain can focus on what's really important: am I achieving my objectives in a timely manner, whether or not I'm in the "office" from 9-5.
And this is where the second "Collaboration" of IBM's Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC2) approach comes in: integration of social networking tools (not just community tools in Sametime Advanced, but blogs, wikis, rich profiles, online communities and networks, sharing, tagging, etc.) moves UC beyond the immediate availability to capturing those interactions, sharing them and thus growing the enterprise's knowledge base, and even measuring (via social analytics) productivity in new, novel ways.
UC is forcing corporate cultures to rethink measurement, performance evaluation, and social boundaries. Or, put differently, for companies to successfully deploy and use UC, cultural adaptation and business process alignment are critical.
4. There are important meetings to go to.
Clearly, with UC, meetings can happen whether or not you're in the office. The recent business disruptions caused by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull were a perfect example of meetings still going on, via e-meetings, chat and video, despite all the ash. One of UC's primary and most measurable value propositions to customers is saving travel cost, time, and reducing environmental impacts through enhanced virtual meetings that are (almost) as good as being there. Now, UC (or generally-available bandwidth or device power) isn't at the point where it can completely replace face-to-face meetings; human communication is only partially verbal (and if you're hearing impared, not verbal at all), so additional advances in video, 3D (not just Sametime 3D, but moving towards "Fahrenheit 451"-ish holographics) and even virtual touch and smell...well, maybe the last two are entering creepy territory, but you get the picture.
5. It's a source of energy; 6. The people I collaborate with all day; 7. I need someplace to go.
Clearly we're still social animals; we can't all work in isolation (we certainly don't want to end up as Isaac Asimov's Solarians...) As I alluded to in #4 above, UC2 is a great technology enabler, allowing us to draw social energy from wherever we happen to be. As Seth said, we don't just draw energy from our office co-workers. And if our work and collaboration networks extend far beyond immediate reporting structures to work with co-workers in Bangalore, customers in Bratislava, Business Partners in Dalian, investors in San Francisco, while simultaneously running into dear friends in the cafe on the Seine we happen to be working from today, UC2 can only help us draw energy simultaneously from physically immediate and virtual, ever-widening circles.
We still, though, have a way to go before we can provide virtual environments that enable the full richness of human communication. And that includes the natural outcomes of extroverted, social behavior: surreptitious/unplanned encounters and non-verbal communication just for starters. Hence the continued need for local socialization.
A lot to think about on a cool San Francisco midnight. What do you think? Would very much like to hear your thoughts.
Interested in implementing unified communications, but concerned about cost and deployment resources? A cloud-based unified communications strategy could dramatically lower your infrastructure and other fixed asset costs, while offering a flexible deployment model. Leverage the power of the cloud to collaborate! On August 30 at 12noon Eastern US time, please join speakers from IBM, and IBM Business Partner Meetrix, to learn about UC as a Service (UCaaS), powered by IBM Sametime. Register here for free access today. Speakers to be confirmed shortly.
#ucoms #socbiz Before announcing back at Lotusphere 2011 a new compliance solution for IBM Connections, Actiance had been an active IBM Sametime business partner for some time, specifically with their Actiance Vantage for Sametime solution. The addition of IBM Connections to the Actiance Vantage family continues to generate news, with The VAR Guy publishing an August 9 story on Actiance's plans to build a U.S. channel for its compliance software: "The VAR Guy: Social Media Compliance Vendor Builds U.S. Channel".
The collaboration between Actiance and IBM, including integration with Sametime and Connections, is highlighted:
Actiance also partners with IBM, a long-time ally. The companies have been working together in conjunction with IBM’s Sametime unified communications software. More recently, IBM announced plans to offer Actiance’s technology with IBM Connections, a social software product targeting businesses. The resulting product, Vantage for IBM Connections, will let customers archive social media content.
A couple of days ago as I was driving to the office I was listening to a discussion on the radio about whether being always online and overloaded with information makes us more isolated or more connected. One side argued that being constantly bombarded with information from multiple sources makes us more aware but less focused and, as a result, more isolated. The other side argued that being more aware is good enough; that the nature of the work knowledge workers do does not require any kind of deep thought and that jumping from one task to another while being aware just enough to not screw something up is acceptable.
The first argument has some footing, in my opinion. Last year I did extensive research on finding ways for unified communications and collaboration tools to help address the pain points plaguing the banking industry in the face of the current economic crisis. I found that information overload breeds uncertainty and, with it, isolation. My research revealed that in cases where organizations face structural isolation uncertainty exacerbates the issues that prevent people from knowing what they need to know when they need to know it. I also found that even when structural isolation is not a problem there's a risk that information overload will cause us to just tune out and, as a result, we end up being less aware than we think we are. When we see this in the context of different areas of an organization needing to be aware of each other the result is what I called a communication dead zone.
The second argument is intriguing. It basically says that superficial awareness is the new normal. It says it's OK to know just enough to not screw up and I find this really disconcerting. It reminds me of how doctors interact with patients nowadays: they come in, skim over your chart, ask you to stick out your tongue, ask you a few questions, order a round of tests for you and they're gone; off to the next patient. That's being mildly aware for you but, hey, it is what it is.
But let me get to the title of this posting. We like to say that, in the past, people went to work and that today work comes to you. One could argue that when we went to work we were less isolated from our teammates and collaboration was the natural way to do things at work. I can see someone saying to me that being part of a virtual team scattered all over the planet makes us more isolated regardless of how many unified communications and collaboration tools we have at our disposal.
My previous job made me move to Austin. My manager at the time wanted her team to come to the office every day and to work together as much as possible. In those days our mission was to help business partners build applications on IBM middleware. The projects we worked on were complex, long, and had lots of moving parts and it made sense for us to be physically in the lab every day and to travel together when we went on site to work with partners. In those days we did not have much in the area of unified communications (Sametime 3.0 only did presence and instant messaging) and broadband was something you really came to the office for.
Then I moved overseas. I was the first member of my team to be (really) remote. In 1999 my telephony expenses were about $400 per month just for dialing three times a day for 30 minutes each time--just long enough to let Notes replicate--and to attend the few conference calls we used to have at that time.
As time went by and broadband became available work started coming to me more than it ever did.
As IBM started deploying Sametime 7.5 my phone bills went to zero and my conference calls started to multiply. Collaboration became the norm: I used to share my screen with my colleagues; I used to be on a voice chat session while logging in on remote servers; we abandoned conferencing bridges for long discussions and went with voice chat pretty much full time and things started to look more or less as they do today. I worked from my overseas home most of the time when I wasn't traveling. I came to Austin from time to time but I was not really required to anymore. The job had changed and the requirements had changed and, thanks to the new tools me and my teammates were given, we were not isolated from each other.
I must say, though, that when work came to me I had an advantage: the years coming to the office left me with good friends with whom I still get together regularly. Isolation doesn't stand a chance in the face of long-lasting friendships.
When I changed jobs and joined the Sametime team in 2008 isolation did become an issue at first even with an ever richer set of unified communications and collaboration tools. I was being bombarded with information from all sides (the whole fire hose analogy) and I was now part of a group of people who were perfect strangers to me.
I went from an outward-facing environment in which my manager's job was to shield me from the internal workings of IBM to a situation in which my job was to master those very internal workings I had comfortably ignored since 1996 when I joined the company.--I'm still working on that today.
Work came to me all right and, with it, isolation. I learned that, when work comes to you, having the latest and greatest in unified communications is not enough without a healthy dose of collaboration tools. Our humanity, the instinctive side of us recognizes one and only one kind of human touch: actual human touch. I think our primate selves cannot register a chat session or a conference call as equivalent to meeting another human in person no matter how much we try. Body language doesn't translate very well over a headset and it's arguable that even telepresence and video chat may not be enough.
What helped me get over my isolation and the fact that I was part of a team of people I knew nothing about was the collaboration bit. Unified communications by itself won't to the trick to stifle isolation in cases where there's no preceding rapport among humans. When you introduce collaboration tools as the context driving the interactions among people isolation is less likely to occur. Collaboration tools provide a catalyzer, a filter that helps us keep the focus where it should be.
Collaborative environments help us learn more about the other humans in our group and allow us to get a glimpse of the personalities. This is funny--you learn all these things not from people's body language but from the way they talk on the phone, their writing style, the way they use graphics in presentations, their style for structuring information, etc. Eventually strangers become teammates and, with a bit of luck, they may even become your friends.
In conclusion, the first argument is dead on. It happened to me. The counterargument is also right but it's not ideal. Being aware just enough to not screw things up is not a good thing. Unfortunately this is the new reality. I don't have too many chances to get together with my new teammates. They're not total strangers to me anymore but I can't say we know much about each other besides what we do at work (I do know David Marshak is also a photography aficionado).
The good news is there are ways to cope with the new reality: a healthy combination of unified communications and collaboration tools can help prevent becoming isolated. The thing is that learning to take advantage of collaboration tools takes more time than learning to use unified communications tools. All we need to do then is be aware of that fact, be patient, and, as it's printed on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "DON'T PANIC".
A recently released video where John Glowacki of CSC, and Rob Schoenfelt of Celina Insurance discuss how IBM Sametime and IBM help them drive real business benefits from becoming more social businesses. Also included is Steve Ressler talking about how IBM helped GovLoop as well.
Blair Pleasant over at UC Strategies recently blogged about a Focus.com IBM and Polycom webcast on video communications in the enterprise. My personal experience has been similar to hers, specifically video collaboration can be both a positive reinforcement AND negative reinforcement of good collaboration behavior and outcomes. On the negative reinforcement side:
One of the strongest arguments in favor of video calls is that
participants are less likely to multitask and do other things while on
the call. If someone is looking right at you, you're probably not going
to be checking your email, playing Angry Birds, or eating your lunch.
And on the positive reinforcement side:
Communication is enhanced. Using video lets you see if someone is
confused, bored, or angry, so you can modify your message and
presentation. Interactions are more personal, which helps to enhance the
quality of relationships between the participants.
Negative reinforcement isn't a bad thing - social mores are just as often about "don't do so-and-so...it's bad manners" as they are about "do so-and-so, it's good manners". Video collaboration is no exception. Personally, I've experienced both the positive and negative reinforcement of good behavior both in work meetings from video meetings. At work we've been (of course!) using video inside a Sametime 8.5.2 meeting for regular weekly meetings, and our team's focus has increased significantly in those meetings. And I've also experienced it outside of work. My personal mobile device is an iPhone 4 and lately I've been using FaceTime to communicate with my spouse, who's recently been in New York while I've been back home in San Diego. The interactions we've had via video on mobile has been leaps and bounds more satisfying than a pure voice call, making the 3000 miles seem a lot less distant.
That personal experience is enlightening. It reminds me that even in business situations, we're still HUMAN. We still want -- need -- visual communication to establish trust and maintain deeper relationships (note that I'm omitting an important conversation on the special challenges faced by the vision-impaired). If Trust is the new currency, then video collaboration will surely be an increasingly important tool in the enterprise.
Today IBM announced enhanced capabilities for mobile collaboration. Customers can easily download the software from all major app stores
including Android, Apple, and BlackBerry, and gain immediate access to
blogs, employee data, status updates, wikis, as well as share files,
videos and photos. This includes IBM Sametime enterprise instant messaging and IBM Sametime Unified Telephony dialers for Android, and IBM Sametime meetings on the BlackBerry. IBM is also helping IT administrators simplify
the management of corporate and personal data on employee devices. by allowing employees, customers and partners to collaborate more effectively while on mobile devices.
You can read a more in-depth analysis of this announcement, and why we're so excited about it, on Todd Watson's Turbo Todd Blog. As always, we would love your feedback: how are YOU using mobile collaboration in your business environment?
Our friends from foresee GmbH have some really nice piece of integration between their interacTable and ScreenMate products and IBM Sametime meetings. This is a realy cool project that was demonstrated at CeBIT 2012 at the IBM booth.
The video below shows foresee's technology in action and how it can be shared via Sametime meetings. At 3:30 you can see a Sametime meeting room on the southeast quadrant of the screen. I know, it's kind of at the end but make sure to watch the entire video. It's really cool. Here it is:
As you may remember we released IBM Connections Suite earlier this
year. The IBM Connections Suite includes Connections (of course),
Sametime Advanced and Sametime Unified Telephony Lite V8.5.2 IFR 1,
FileNet Content Manager and Quickr connectors. When it was originally
released, IBM Connections Suite came with Connections 184.108.40.206. Now that
Connections 4.0 is available, the Suite has been updated with the
latest-and-greatest release of IBM Connections.
IBM Connections Suite leverages, among other things,
integration between Connections Communities and Sametime Advanced
Broadcast Communities, which allows you to reach out to all members of a
community in real time. It also features the new Sametime Video Chat
Widget for Connections, which allows you to launch multi-party video sessions within a Connections Community. It's pretty cool.
You can learn more about IBM Connections Suite here:
Our good friends at Plantronics announced this week the latest release of their Spokes software family of products. Spokes provides the foundation that makes Plantronics headsets operate as seamless extensions of UC clients such as IBM Sametime Connect.
Plantronics uses Spokes as the basis for the Plantronics Plug-in for IBM Sametime, which enables integration of a large chunk of the product family with Sametime Connect. When you have the plug-in installed, you can initiate and pick up calls, put them on hold, mute, unmute and end both, Sametime Voice Chat sessions and Sametime Unified Telephony calls directly from the headset. If the device you're using happens to be a Calisto speaker phone, you can also dial directly from the device if you're calling phone number from your SUT unified number.
The Plantronics Plug-in for IBM Sametime on Windows has been around for a while. I personally use it every day because it makes my Savi W730 and my Voyager Pro UC V2 work they way they're supposed to with my Sametime 8.5.2 IFR 1 environment on Windows 7. Well, this week's announcement brings lots of good news for Sametime users because, after an intensive Beta program with a bunch of folks inside IBM, the plug-in is now available for Mac OS X as well.
Congratulations to the Plantronics team and, as always, thanks for their continued support for the Sametime platform.
You can find out more about all the cool features available with Spokes and the Plantronics Plug-in for IBM Sametime here.
Sametime 8.5.2 introduces a whole new set of administrative features at various levels throughout the product. As I mentioned in previous postings, we're committed to make it easier for everyone, from end users to administrators, to take advantage of the capabilities we offer. This includes, of course, making it easy to administer those capabilities as well as the underlying infrastructure.
When we talk about administrative features we're not just talking about "systems administration". We're also talking about things such as administrative tools for meeting rooms, tools to administer call routing and preferred devices within Sametime Unified Telephony, access to persistent chat rooms in Sametime Advanced, etc.
On the systems administration front, though, we did lots of pretty nice things on 8.5.2. As I mentioned in my last posting, we're making it easier to administer how audio and video are deployed and used on the infrastructure. This includes the new TURN Server for NAT traversal and the new Bandwidth Manager component. We're also providing federated deployment capabilities for the Sametime Systems Console, new monitoring APIs and integration with Tivoli Monitoring.
These administrative features are aimed at making life easier for Sametime administrators. The new capabilities such as NAT traversal and bandwidth management are intended to help manage resources in a policy-driven manner that does not require administrators to be constantly tweaking settings. Even installation and configuration are easier in 8.5.2 than in previous versions thanks to this approach of expressing tasks in terms of policies and guided activities.
On the end user side, we are also providing new administrative features as I mentioned above.
Meeting rooms include improved moderator and audio and video controls and a way to explicitly end meetings for everyone when needed. Meeting room owners can designate managers and they can decide who can do what on their meeting rooms effectively administering (moderating is probably a better word in this context) the meetings experience for the people they interact with. On the other side of the equation, systems administrators can now remove meeting rooms directly from the server.
We are also providing capabilities to manage the audio and video experience. Having the ability to integrate dual TCSPI adapters for audio and video conferencing, users can now select the service provider that fits their needs and switch from one call to the next.
Users can also administer their call routing and device preferences for Sametime Unified Telephony directly from the Android devices. This is a first for us and something that truly mobile users will appreciate.
Our new meetings client for BlackBerry also provides administrative features. Users can manage the list of their favorite meeting rooms and the meeting servers they connect to.
We have enabled support for Sametime Advanced on the Sametime Systems Console. This makes our deployment and management for Advanced fully consistent with the rest of the Sametime family, again, to make life easier.
Additionally, we're providing new administrative features to improve chat history management. Users can now search chat transcripts by person and by date and they can also search files and links sent by a specific person. Very handy indeed.
All this is, as I said, aimed at making life easier for end users as well as for administrators. We will continue refining Sametime along these lines to make it even easier to deploy and to use. Stay tuned.
Today we posted an important update to our Sametime Mobile for Android app on the Google Play Store (here).
This new client is designed for both, phones, and tablets. It has an updated user interface, improvements to chat history management, and better management of multiple communities.
Chris Reckling has posted some nice screenshots on his blog (here). Check it out and, if you have an Android device, feel free to upgrade to this new release and let us know what you think--as long as it can be expressed as a five-star rating on the Play Store (wink, wink...)
Here's a couple of videos showcasing what IBM's software for social business can do.
First, here's Sandy Carter doing an overview of a few interesting case studies in government as part of the Social Business Coffee Break series:
Sandy talks about the Joint Emergency Operations Center serving the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas, which is outfitted with IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge's RadioConnect for Sametime to integrate real-time communications from over 40 agencies from the US Federal Government, the State of Texas and the local agencies from Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth itself. This is one of the coolest projects we've ever been involved in and one that has brought a lot of attention to Sametime deployments in first-responder scenarios thanks to our partners from UnifiedEdge.
The second video showcases the awesome integration IBM's social business software, including Sametime, has with Polycom's REALPRESENCE platform. This is a very nice video that shows how it's done when it comes to integrating a real general-purpose platform like Sametime with Polycom's state-of-the-art technology.
It also shows how Sametime and Connections complement each other. You find the people you need using Connections and you reach out them using Sametime. I like to call this paradigm "Enable+Connect" as in enabling with Connections and connecting with Sametime:
Thank you Sandy, UnifiedEdge and Polycom. We couldn't have done it without you.
Ever since I happened upon an exhibit of Japanese post-war consumer design at Design Museum London back in 1992 (the miniature cars! the sleek juicers! the radios encased in melamine!), I've been somewhat enamoured with design. When you are (or like me, used to be) an engineer, it's too easy to put function over form. Great design doesn't put form over function, but instead marries the two seamlessly in order to solve real human problems in a way that feels natural.
In the words of our own Thierry Nicolle - EMEA’s IBM BUE’s experience on our new Voyager PRO UC:
Plantronics Bluetooth Headset is delivering the best Unified Communication Experience on Sametime I ever had. Not only this headset is extremely well designed and easy to use but is also providing unique capabilities in Sametime environment . For instance: the new ‘ Smart Sensor feature’ that ‘automatically‘ answers any inbound call when you place the headset on your head is a fantastic feature and the Plantronics Call control plug ability to ‘roam’ from your PC / desktop up to 33 feet (10 metres) away to multitask and remain ‘connected’ to [Sametime Unified Telephony] calls. [And] meetings with its multiple call handling features provides real freedom and extra productivity benefits. After trying this headset I simply cannot work without it…
Speaking from my own experience, it is a visually engaging piece of technology. And it really does enhance your mobility and productivity.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with TED Talks. Those of you who are not, you should. TED Talks are among the most interesting and thought-provoking lectures I've ever had the pleasure to attend. They bring some of the most innovative minds to present new ideas to audiences all over the world.
Dr. Steven Schwaitzberg is Chief of Surgery at the Cambridge Health Alliance at the Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital. He was, until recently, president of SAGES (Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons) and a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive surgery.
Today, Dr. Schwaitzberg spends most of his time teaching surgeons the art of laparoscopic surgery and he recently did a TED Talk on the subject.
Teaching surgeons all over the world presents two problems: distance and language.
Dr. Schwaitzberg has solved the first problem using video conferencing. He can save money on travel, he can scale to doing several sessions a day from the comfort of his desk, and he doesn't have to waste time going through airport security, flying, picking up luggage, etc.
The second problem is a little more difficult to address. Whether he goes to a foreign country or does a lecture via video conferencing he still needs to deal with the fact many of his students don't speak English.
This is where Sametime Meetings comes into play. Dr. Schwaitzberg is working with the IBM Research's Human Ability and Accessibility Center and with a few IBM business partners including Polycom in building a universal translator based on IBM Sametime Meetings. Dr. Schwaitzberg shows a prototype in his talk and the demo is pretty cool. You can get to Dr. Schwaitzberg's talk here. Check it out.
I'm probably a little late to this particular debate, seeing that it started on November 9. The CRM Magazine Blog highlighted a debate going on, started by Nick Jones over at Gartner, asserting that unified communications is a Big Vendor Scam. What I found interesting was Mr. Jones' relating UC vendors Cisco and Microsoft as "dinosaurs in a world of fast-moving furry mammals":
“[this] ill-assorted mix of technologies that vendors want to sell in a
single bundle because it’s convenient for them,” is actually useless to
employees; Twitter, Facebook, and Skype are much more attractive to
consumers and are a lot more “fashionable.”
I have several problems with his argument:
Integration and interoperability to end-users is far from useless. Having to switch constantly between applications is rather distracting and productivity-sapping. I'm an eager technologist, so if I find the "switching costs" of going between applications an irritant, I can only imagine the psychic cost for the average worker. The ability for Sametime to integrate with the way I want to work is hugely important to me as an end-user. I can use Sametime without ever leaving my Notes environment (or, Outlook if you so choose), I can integrate with Twitter and Connections in a single dashboard (oh, yes it does - just take a look at this nifty little Status Updatr Plug-in on OpenNTF), I can use Sametime within a Portal, etc. Certainly we have a longer way to go, especially as communications tools continue to innovate, but there's always going to be a balance between bringing in what's new vs. conservatively sticking with what works.
Twitter, Facebook and Skype are attractive to consumers because they're free, not necessarily because their capabilities are better. I've been using all three for quite some time now, and while I would definitely describe them as "fashionable", their user interfaces, capabilities, changing terms of service, and quality of service leave much to be desired (just one recent example: a LifeHacker comparison of Skype with iChat and GoogleTalk shows they all have work to do).
Quality of Service matters. You get what you pay for, and free means you get less. If my PBX failed as often at voice quality and video quality as my recent Skype experiences, I'de be fighting my IT department tooth and nail. Just another example: I gladly pay extra for a Mac because I can use iChat to integrate all my various personal chat networks (including Facebook, AOL and GoogleTalk). That's real value I'm willing to pay for as a consumer, so businesses are willing to pay for similar integrative capabilities for their users.
And a pedantic quibble - a Ponzi scheme assumes you're robbing one customer to pay the previous one, which eventually comes crashing down like a house of cards. I like a competitive dig as much as my competitors do, but I would never accuse Microsoft nor Cisco of trying to do that. No serious vendor in their right mind goes that route, it's business suicide. So if you want to claim a vendor might be over-charging and under-delivering, go for it. But calling it a Ponzi scheme just comes across as needless provocation.
Perhaps it's IBM's different viewpoint on unified communications. We're not looking at it as if it were a single stack of capabilities - there are simply too many different capabilities involved and the mix of what's important is unique to each enterprise. That's why we take an open platform approach vs. a single-stack approach. So that we can learn from, and integrate with these fast-moving furry mammals. Consumer technologies do tend to be leading indicators of where enterprise technologies are going, so it's very important keep an eye on what's happening there. And an open platform approach where you can (quickly) integrate these new capabilities can only help.
This is my second posting on the role UC plays on the path to Social Business. In my previous post I discussed the roadmap to becoming a Social Business. The roadmap, as you may recall, has four steps: emphasize people-to-people interactions, retrofit existing people networks, help people extend their organizational reach and enable newly created people networks to function. Well, today I want to talk about the first step.
The first step towards becoming a Social Business involves seeding the behavior needed to make the transition from people-to-process and people-to-information to people-to-people interactions. Emphasizing people-to-people interactions is key to introducing social interaction patterns in environments where people don't always know each other. This is how we transplant the natural behavior humans exhibit in their own social groups into a work environment where they spend most of their time surrounded by perfect strangers.
Social interaction patterns are natural to us and they start with people. Under this paradigm, information and process are mere attributes. When we interact with friends and family we start with the person. When a child is hungry he will most likely yell out "Mom, I'm hungry. What's for dinner...!" He starts with the person (his mother), then provides status information (he communicates that he's hungry), and then requests data from the other person (he asks what his mother is preparing for dinner).
This type of interaction, a people-to-people interaction, is more efficient than finding out, first, who's cooking dinner, then letting that person know that one is hungry to verify that there's a match between an empty stomach and freshly-prepared food, and finally asking what that food actually is. At work, we've done this for years. We've been trained to think in terms of information and process first and then to consider who can provide the information or who can make something happen in the context of a business process. After a few trials we identify a go-to-person and that person becomes part of our immediate people network. Then we no longer base our interactions with that person on process or information. We call on them first and then ask for information. In other words, we gravitate to the type of interaction that comes natural to our species.
The technology we've used at work so far has not been flexible enough to facilitate people-to-people interactions. The consumer space, on the other hand, has built solutions to enable people-to-people interactions beyond the people networks we can build within our immediate surroundings. Now we can initiate people-to-people interactions with remote parties through various channels. Facebook, for instance, provides asynchronous channels for exchanging status information and it also provides real-time channels to exchange data as needed. Twitter allows broadcasting information to multiple parties in real time. These are social interaction patterns and most people already understand how the technology that enables those patterns work. In other words, the behavior is already there.
Since the behavior is there, all that's needed now is to enable it at work. All we need to do is help people exercise the same social interaction patterns they rely on to interact with friends and family with the people they work with. The goal is to infuse the enterprise with the same degree of efficiency social interaction patterns give us in our daily lives.
This is the first step of embracing change. It means letting people use the tools that let them interact with each other naturally. Ten years ago many companies regarded instant messaging as a toy and labeled it a distraction. Now I'm sure there are very few companies out there that have not embraced instant messaging. Most companies, I'm sure, would agree that they could not do business today without it. The same applies to people-to-people interactions and the technology that enables them.
So, what to do? As part of the need to embrace change, I say don't be afraid of letting people be people. Let your employees interact with each other as people. Let them exercise people-to-people interactions at work. Let them use Facebook, let them tweet, let them leverage instant messaging, email and the telephone to enrich their interactions with colleagues, customers and business partners. That's what emphasizing people-to-people interactions means.
In my next posting I will discuss what happens when the behavior has been seeded and internalized. Stay tuned.
When implementing unified communications and collaboration tools, you have many choices and implementation alternatives, ranging from in-house deployment to cloud-based pay-as-you-go solutions. As you are faced with the challenge of identifying and selecting the tools and an approach that best meets your business goals, solution and financial requirements, having a trusted adviser is more important than ever.
To help in that advisory role, IBM has just announced IBM Converged Communications Services for unified communications as a service (UCaaS) . This new strategy and assessment service provides skilled IBM Global Technology Services (GTS) Integrated Communications Services (ICS) consultants and architects, along with our vendor-neutral approach, to help clients understand and compare unified communications solution alternatives, prioritize them based on impact to their environment, and determine the best fit solution. Using our cloud computing and UC expertise, ICS can help you develop the scope, requirements and strategy for adopting UCaaS to reduce costs, improve collaboration and enhance productivity. Our experts can provide a road map to help clients achieve a smooth, reliable migration to a new UCaaS environment.
Visit the link above for more information. And as always, your comments are greatly appreciated.
As we posted about over at the Lotus Knows blog earlier today, IBM has announced the coming availability of Connections 3.0, and the IBM social collaboration platform. Why should those of us in the unified communications business care?
The inclusion of Lotus Sametime as one of the key platform components of the IBM social collaboration platform -- along with Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr, business and technology services, and more -- was no accident. As loyal readers you know IBM has been talking about unified communications and collaboration for several years now. This is a natural extension of that conversation, and our leadership in this space. Gartner said recently that the distinction between unified communications (UC) and collaboration will disappear by 2013 (as reported by CIOL), but we know that outperforming organizations are already doing this today.
Social media may generate a lot of buzz, but if you look more deeply at that conversation, invariably there is a communications element. All that socializing may be great, but eventually you just want to talk to someone (or IM them, or video chat with them, or meet with them, or...). For all the power of these new social collaboration capabilities, we are at heart a social species which means we still crave live verbal and visual contact with others, not just their words or photos or (pre-recorded) videos. That's why the phone isn't going away anytime soon as a collaboration device (maybe as a wired desktop phone, but that's just replacing one form factor with another, the underlying capability is still the same).
Unified communications and collaboration, then, is about making sure that we include that verbal, visual contact as an integral component of the overall collaboration mix, because that's how people WANT to collaborate. That's why we continue to invest in Sametime - with three releases in the past 2 years alone (Sametime Unified Telephony, Sametime 8.5 and Sametime 8.5.1). And why we continue to push the integration of Sametime with not only the rest of our Lotus portfolio, but the broader IBM portfolio (like WebSphere Portal, or Cognos), business partner offerings (just read any of our recent Business Partner Tuesday posts that highlight just a small sliver of the over 400 partners we work with), and even competitors (because we live in a heterogenous world, despite the rip-and-replace strategies other vendors ask of you).
So when you see the words Social Business, or social collaboration, from IBM, know that Sametime, and Unified Communications, are absolutely critical and key to that strategy:
trust is the new competitive advantage - what better way to build trust than through real-time conversations (whether IM, voice, video or e-meetings?)
brands are experienced through their people - and unified communications is critical for not just call centers, but for enabling all your employees to be real-time brand ambassadors to your customers
outperforming organizations are doing this today by making people, not devices or documents, central to the collaboration strategy. And we have plenty of real examples where unified communications have resulted in profitable transformations
We're excited about this announcement. Hopefully this explains why we think you should be too. But what do you think? How well integrated today are social collaboration and unified communications in your enterprise? What will it take to get there? Why aren't we there yet?
Although it's after Labor Day here in North America, technically it's still summer until the 22nd this year. So join IBM, Polycom and Meridian IT to close out the summer with our "Get Social" Summer event at the Polycom Executive Briefing Center in Chicago.
Hear from industry leaders on socially-enabled businesses and the impact on the enterprise. Learn how IBM and Polycom are driving innovation for collaboration and helping enterprises become more responsive to their customers, partners and employees. Meridian IT will also be
presenting how value added services can be meaningfully deployed to help enterprises benefit from the changing business landscape. Click here to register
Here's a draft agenda (subject to change):
11:00am - 12:00pm: Registration and Lunch1
2:00pm - 2:00pm: Welcome, Overview of the Polycom and IBM Alliance, "Unified Communications, Socially Enabled Business and Changing Business Paradigms", review of Polycom and IBM Unified Communications Solutions
2:00pm - 2:30pm: Coffee Break
2:30pm - 3:15pm: Demo of Polycom Video Integration for IBM Social Business Applications
3:15pm - 4:00pm: The Value of Working with Meridian IT: "Creating a Socially Enabled Enterprise, Considerations and Implications"
4:00pm - 4:15pm: Closing Remarks, raffle for tickets to a special sporting event
Speaking of business partners, FaceTime has built a very nice solution that adds considerable value to Sametime deployments in various industry scenarios with high security and regulatory compliance requirements.
FaceTime for Sametime augments Sametime deployments with hardened compliance for regulatory and e-Discovery. It provides tamper-proof logging, it provides a framework for defining ethical boundaries, it allows exporting Sametime file transfers to IBM Enterprise Content Manager and it adds an e-Discovery user interface to facilitate searching and reviewing.
When it comes to security, the solution adds protection against viruses and worms for instant messaging sessions. When it comes to data loss prevention, it scans file transfers over IM sessions and it allows filtering file transfers by keywords and regular expressions.
Regarding management, the solution allows controlling availability of features (IM, VoIP, video) on a per-user basis and it provides a rich reporting framework that allows retrieving conversations as they occurred.
In short, wherever there's a need for IM archiving and compliance, security and data loss prevention on IM sessions, enforcing compliance, ethical boundaries and communication policies, I think FaceTime for Sametime is a a good way to go.
The IBM Serviceability Tool for Sametime is definitely getting better with age. The team has been busy refining it and giving it more muscle to make Sametime 9 deployments easier, faster and predictable. This week we're adding some cool new features I'm sure you all are going to like. Here's the list:
Diagnostic analysis and viewing with custom filtering,
New features on the Configuration Validation module:
LDAP server integration, which allows direct validation with the LDAP server if available,
A Policy Summary view coming directly from the Systems Console and the Meetings Server if available.
A new Configuration Compare view that allows you to see two different server configurations side by side so you can spot the differences,
Two new features on the Network Mapping and Monitoring module:
The ability to trace-route your workspace network via a graphical map showing the servers added to the network and the addressable nodes in between relative to the tool,
The ability to monitor server status via ping if the servers are available.
Built-in help (I know… we needed this one).
Here's a few screenshots for your viewing pleasure.
This is the new Configuration Compare view:
This is what the new Diagnostic Viewer looks like:
I mentioned the diagnostic analysis view includes custom filters. Here's what that looks like:
And, finally, here's the new network scan feature:
As always, remember the IBM Serviceability Tool for Sametime is available for download from the Solutions Catalog in Greenhouse. You can get it here.
Internet Telephony has just awarded IBM a 2009 Product of the Year Award for IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. "IBM has proven its commitment to quality and excellence while addressing real needs in the marketplace,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC. “We’re happy to recognize and honor IBM for their development of IP communications technology. We look forward to more innovative solutions from them in the future.” A complete list of Product of the Year winners is published in the February 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine (www.itmag.com). For more information about TMC, please visit TMCnet.com.
We're very proud of the 2009 launch of Sametime Unified Telephony. This also comes on the heels of IBM winning the 2009 TMC Unified Communications Excellence Award for our IBM Global Technology Services Converged Communications Services for Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony. The combination of our award-winning software, services, hardware and industry expertise uniquely positioned IBM in 2009 as a leader in unified communications, and we look forward to an even stronger 2010.
We have just posted an update to the Tech Note that outlines Sametime support for Citrix.
I know many of you have asked us to support more features on Citrix. We have a technical approach to resolving the outstanding technical issues that prevent us from providing full support and we are working on establishing a timeline for availability.
We're making progress in the meantime and this update is particularly significant. First, we now support Citrix XenApp 6.5. Secondly, we have documented a series of workarounds that help improve the Sametime experience on Citrix XenApp including screen sharing through the Sametime Web Meetings Client and screen capture on the Sametime Web Chat Client.
#ibmsocialbiz As many of you know, we've been working with Interactive Intelligence in integrating their CIC contact center suite with Sametime. The integration allows contact center agents to tap into expertise beyond their immediate reach.
The expertise location pattern is critical to improving customer satisfaction, up-selling and cross-selling, and to keeping customer-facing business processes moving. That's exactly what the CIC-Sametime integration does. Our friends at InIn produced this nice video illustrating how the integration works. Take a look:
This week IBM Sametime achieved a major milestone. As you probably know, many companies around the world are still debating whether to embrace iOS as a supported platform for enterprise-grade mobility.
Like all responsible companies, IBM has also been evaluating its response to the overwhelming acceptance iOS has gained among enterprise users. The IBM CIO Office has followed a carefully orchestrated process to determine whether--and how--to embrace iOS. As part of that effort, the IBM CIO Office has been sponsoring a pilot deployment of IBM Sametime Mobile for iOS that enables access to our internal server from iPhone and iPad devices.
This week the CIO Office decided to "graduate" the pilot and enable access to all IBMers. This is a major endorsement for IBM Sametime Mobile for iOS and we couldn't be happier. This puts all our mobile clients: Android, BlackBerry, and iOS, in production-grade status on the IBM IT infrastructure.
As you can imagine--and probably already know--the IBM CIO Office manages one of the most complex IT infrastructures in the world; one that serves over 300,000 users and hundreds of sites around the world. I guess if the IBM CIO Office thinks Sametime Mobile for iOS is good enough for their infrastructure it should be good enough for most.
As some of you might have seen, I've just changed roles here at IBM. I'll still be with the Worldwide IBM Collaboration Solutions marketing team. But now, instead of marketing our Unified Communications offerings, I'll be supporting our flagship Lotus messaging and collaboration offerings, including Lotus Notes, Lotus Domino, Lotus Symphony, and much more. I'm not going far, and I'll always be a huge Sametime fan. But if you see a lot less of me on this here SametimeBlog, you'll know why. And don't fret, we have an incredible bench of UC subject matter experts, from Marlon Machado and Lisa Harris to many more. I encourage you to share and comment on their insightful work.
But before I move over, I wanted to let you know about an upcoming webinar with our Business Partner CDW. On Wednesday September 28 at 1pm Central US, please join CDW to learn how you can affordably realize the benefits of unified communication today without having to rip and replace your current telephony or email systems, with IBM Sametime. As the only UC client to offer complete integration with Lotus Notes, IBM Sametime also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint and Office. And whatever your messaging and collaboration environment, you can integrate it with your telephony systems, whether you have an older TDM environment, a modern VOIP infrastructure, or a mixture of many different systems across the organization.
There is no better time to look at IBM Unified Communications with significant discounts available on licensing now. Complete a survey at the end of the webinar, and you will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card, and be entered to win an iPad2. Register today as space is limited. We look forward to seeing you there!
Back in 2010 we released a detailed IBM Sametime Reviewers' Guide for version 8.5. We just refreshed and updated the Guide for the latest release, Sametime 8.5.2. This document will help you evaluate how IBM Sametime software can help you collaborate in real-time
with your professional networks. Use it to review Sametime 8.5.2's broad range of functions, and gain a better understanding of IBM Sametime 8.5/2's capabilities. And as it's an e-book, you can easily navigate from section to section. It's an excellent companion piece to our IBM Sametime product web pages and the IBM Sametime Wiki on IBM developerWorks.
I got this nice little PNG from the Lotusphere 2012 team that says "I'm a Speaker":
I think it's pretty cool and I'm already using it as part of my email
signature. It's great that the Lotusphere team decided to do this for
next year. They're also collecting Social Business stories, which I also think it's pretty cool. You may want to check it out here.
My session, ID213 - What's New in IBM Sametime is scheduled for Tuesday, January 17 at 3:30 PM. Feel free to drop by if you're attending the conference. But before you do that, please make sure to attend John Delpizzo's session, INV209 - Strategy and Roadmap for IBM Sametime, on Monday, January 16 at 5:00 PM. It'll give you the necessary context you'll need to make sense of what I'm going to talk about. We'll publish a full list of all the Sametime-related sessions on this blog once we get the final list. Stay tuned.
Thanks for all the positive feedback on the Sametime 8.5 Meetings demo! It seems I've tapped some latent demand. Yes, we will be making these available on IBM.com as soon we clear the posting requirements. In the meantime, IBM'ers can download them from our internal Connections site (see my Files area). When the rest of them are done, we'll bundle them up and post a collection publicly.
Our Sametime team was very busy this week, what with our extensive presence and sponsorship at this year's event. While they're flying home and catching up, I wanted to highlight a few items of note.
Alistair Rennie's Keynote: you can see a video replay of our General Manager's keynote address here at tv.voiceCon.com (free registration required). IBM clearly differentiated around business value and process expertise, while many of the other keynotes were focused on technology nuts-and-bolts. The reaction was very positive, with the Twitterverse abuzz. My favorite one so far -- Cberndtson #voicecon IBM's Rennie: Integration is the better way. "The assets you have are valuable. They work. Why don't we just integrate them." Eric Krapf over at nojitter blog had a nice liveblog review of the keynote as well.
Sweettweets were once again a popular draw for the IBM booth. Nothing like a sugar rush to keep the conversations flowing.
IBM participated in a lot of sessions, including a few particularly contentious ones where Bruce Morse, our fearless VP of Unified Communications, and Pat Galvin, our equally fearless CTO of Unified Communications, made strong cases for open standards and interoperability (and the lack thereof, or resistance to, from some of our competition). Good write up of that in both the nojitter blog and in InformationWeek.
As our team gets back on track, I'm sure we'll have additional updates for you next week. Until then, here's the next installment of our Friday Funnies.
Info-Tech Research Group just published its UC Vendor Landscape report, which ranks UC vendors and UC products based on various criteria. Their rankings go from Emerging Player to Market Pillar to Innovator to Champion. That's where we are:
We're sharing the honor with Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft and Siemens. Congratulations to them. Congratulations are in order as well to our partners Interactive Intelligence and ShoreTel for making the Innovator quadrant.
IBM developerWorks has just published a brand new white paper titled "IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Security Features." The paper was written by Smriti Talwar, our security architect, with Anna Guri from our development team and Jonathan Crissey from our support team. Here's a summary:
IBM Sametime 8.5 has many new components that leverage IBM WebSphere and IBM DB2 infrastructures. This paper provides an overview of the security features of the new WebSphere 8.5.2-infrastructure-based offerings along with security-related best practices for the existing components.
Check it out. It's a good read. You can find it here.
IBM today announced new cloud-based collaboration services to help U.S.
Federal government organizations reap the benefits of social computing. The new set of social collaboration services, including IBM Sametime, delivered on IBM's Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)-compliant Federal Community Cloud, addresses the administration's drive to adopt a "cloud-first" policy which is designed to help the government improve its overall IT efficiency and delivery of services to citizens. By having Sametime as part of a FISMA-compliant environment, IBM is able to provide a roadmap for unified communications as a service for those organizations looking for FISMA-compliant delivery.
As we blogged about way back in November 2010, unified communications is a core component of becoming a social business. And social media needs unified communications to help turn socializing into action. While we may have been ahead of the industry a little bit in making this connection explicit, much of the conversation at Enterprise Connect last week was dominated by Social Business and Social Media and how they're related to UC. Now comes this blog post from Carousel Connect as well, where they discuss IBM's social business initiative within the UC context. Whether you're trying to provide a more exceptional customer experience...
Now that you are listening more effectively, give [customers] more ways to interact with you. On-line chat and customer service
solutions integrated into your contact center are proven to substantially improve customer satisfaction levels. Providing customers with the types of social interactions and collaboration they have
become accustomed to will pay dividends both in cost savings and happier
...or an exceptional work experience...
An overlooked toolset in corporations is ‘Group Chat”. Many businesses
are bastions of “tribal knowledge” where a few employees know the
answers to problems that are asked over and over again. Setting up
“topic-based” group chat rooms (think Facebook-like simplicity) that
employees can join and which are moderated by internal
subject-matter-experts (SMEs), can speed reaction time and build up a
powerful knowledge base very quickly.
...what's important is that UC is placed within a broader context of collaboration in the enterprise.
A few weeks ago, Julie told you a little about the new Sametime Unified Telephony Lite Client license that was announced with Sametime 8.5.2. "SUT Lite" is an add-on option for Sametime Standard or Advanced that turns your Connect Client into a basic softphone. When linked to a certified PBX or video environment through a SIP trunk, you can make and receive both voice and video calls without ever leaving Sametime.
Today our friends at Cisco told me about a new Youtube video they made that shows this working with an EX90 endpoint. The trunk is between the Sametime Media Manager and the Cisco VCS. The user enters the appropriate SIP URI (ie: phone number) into Sametime or the EX90 and the user receiving the call answers as they normally would. Video can be full screen and up to 720p. What's not shown in the video is that you can also join an immersive meeting by dialing into the Cisco Telepresence Server as well.
A full list of certified environments is available in the Sametime Wiki (what used to be known as the Information Center).
I've seen lots of references about what it means to be a Social Business and why we should care. What has been absent--at least from what I've seen--is a simple list of steps on how to get there. So--funny thing--while preparing my session for IamLUG 2011, I decided to build a roadmap.
I took what I learned last year working with the Collaboration Agenda team, I took the principles behind the Social Business message and I came up with four easy steps to becoming a Social Business:
Emphasize people-to-people interactions,
Retrofit existing people networks,
Help people extend their organizational reach,
Enable the newly created people networks to function.
Based on, literally, hundreds of case studies and customer references I got to work on last year, I can tell you that these four steps can help a company of pretty much any mid-to-large size do two things: Embrace change, and leverage their existing investments to turn themselves into social businesses.
When I talked about this at IamLUG, I got unanimous agreement that these four steps make sense. None of this is out-of-the-world pie-in-the-sky thinking. What's involved in making each one of them happen is good-ole fashion common sense and enough focus to see things through.
Embracing change involves nothing more than acknowledging that your workforce is composes of three basic constituents: people over 50 (I call them "digital immigrants"), people in the 35-to-50 age range (I call us "first-generation digital citizens), and those born after 1980, whom I call "digital natives".
Each group structures their communication channels differently: email and phone for digital immigrants, email and IM for first-generation digital citizens and social media for digital natives, and the interaction patterns they execute to work and communicate are also different: linear patterns that emphasize people-to-information and people-to-process interactions for the first two groups, and people-to-people for the third.
So, as social interaction patterns make their way into the enterprise, it is imperative that we embrace them and take advantage of their efficiency (hence step 1 above). Linear interaction patterns encourage the creation of silos and tend to keep information within close-knit people networks (hence step 2). The key to embracing change resides in shifting behavior away from linear interaction patterns and towards social interaction patterns so people find ways to break away from their silos (step 3). Once that happens and information and ideas flow freely among broader, more diverse people networks, the net result is more business value (step 4).
Leveraging what you have is nothing more than getting more out of your existing technology investments and repurposing some of it to fulfill the new challenges posed by social interaction patterns. If you happen to have IBM technology that's easier to do than if you have closed products based on proprietary architectures. It's true, our stuff is hard to install and configure but that's what allows you to customize it, repurpose it and integrate it with other things. When you have proprietary products that only do one thing the alternative is rip-and-replace.
When your email system does only email it's hard to use it for anything else, isn't it? When email is just one of the many things it can do for you, it's nice to know you don't have to replace it with something else when you need messaging capabilities in addition to specific business functionality.
When you run a UC "platform" based on open standards is nice to know you can surface its capabilities in your business applications as needed. It's also comforting to know that you can extend it to satisfy new business requirements. When you have a UC "product" you're stuck with whatever it can give you at least until the vendor upgrades it and you have to get rid of it to install the new version.
In my next posting I'll dive deep into step 1. Stay tuned.
#ucoms #socbiz This week, several IT industry blogs reported on the increased focus around unified communications as organizations embrace social computing in the workplace. In the first, IT Business Edge discusses in "Social Networking and Unified Communications: Catalysts for Change", the impact of unified communications on social business and cloud computing:
What Barlow is driving at is that it won’t be too long before all of these technologies combine to fundamentally change the way we all work.
The barriers to enterprise social software adoption are far more cultural than technical. Internal social networking tools make for great demos, but unified communications (UC) pros often struggle to define what problem enterprise social software is trying to solve.
FYI, people... we just posted an update to the IBM Sametime Configuration Validator tool on the IBM Sametime Wiki. The current release is 220.127.116.1120831 an it includes the following changes:
Report View & Reporting Listing provide better handling of generated reports
Improved Add Server Wizard for adding servers
Expanded Configuration Validation Report to include Sametime Environment Summary
Interim Fix (iFix) validation for WebSphere servers
Improved existing validation routines
Added instructions to guide on installing Business Intelligence,
Reporting and Charting - BIRT Framework (BIRT) 3.7.x separately.
This version will update any previous versions you may have installed. If you've never installed Configuration Validator before this release will give you the latest-and-greatest functionality available today. You can get it here.
IBM has submitted quite a few sessions for the upcoming SXSW Interactive Festival 2012. Many IBMers tend to go to this event, and this year we have 5 submissions from Team IBM. And for the first time this year, our own Caleb Barlow has also submission a topic for presentation: Enterprise-grade Social Communicationshttp://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10749 . This year's SXSWi continues to include input from the public on which sessions should be included. Audience votes count for 30% of the score used to decide whether a session is accepted for the event. We would love your vote, of course :-) Just register for the SXSWi Panel Picker and add your voice to the selection process.
This week's Business Partner Tuesday is a day late, but if you saw our earlier post today, you'de know why :-)
Would you like to connect instantly with other members of the Lotus Community? Perhaps your favorite blogger? A presenter you saw at Lotusphere? A Lotus Business Partner? Or even an IBMer? Well the people running BleedYellow.com are helping make this a reality. Here's an easy how-to guide to set yourself up. I've already done it, so you can now connect with me via Sametime (say hi!).
BleedYellow is a public Lotus Connections site, run by IBM Business Partner Lotus911 (now GROUP). So the first thing you need to do, is go there and register. (the Register link is at the bottom left corner, as shown below):
Once you have an ID and PW on BleedYellow, you next go into your Lotus Sametime client, and add an additional community, allowing you to connect to both your company's Sametime server to chat with your coworkers, and the BleedYellow Sametime server to chat with people from all over the world (but you already knew that Sametime client can connect to multiple communities, didn't you...)
In Sametime: - Choose File - Manage Server Communities from the top menu. - Click Add New Server Community - On the Log In Tab, add the username that you registered at BleedYellow.com, and your password. * Note: Some people have told me that they use the email address they registered on BleedYellow with, not their username.
On the Server tab, enter im.bleedyellow.com as the Host Server, and 1533 as the Server community port.
Then click OK at the bottom. Now the last thing you have to do is add a group so you can see the people to chat with. Click on the New icon, and choose New Group:
Select Search for a public group (1), select the bleedyellow community (2), search for the group yellowbleeders, select it (4), and click OK.
According to the offering data sheet, it "...provides push-button workflows for users to upload recorded multi-party Sametime sessions—voice and content—into Polycom RealPresence Media Manager. This solution offers automation and ease of use for your end-users and content managers for meta-data entry, bulk content upload, and content approval workflows."
Now you can record and publish multi-point Sametime Video Chat sessions and meetings straight to the Polycom RealPresence Media Manager. You can also capture and publish user-generated content (say a presentation running on a Sametime meeting room enabled for audio and video), and you can also upload other media straight from the desktop into the RealPresence Media Manager.
This offering makes video an even more valuable tool for improving productivity. Now publishing a demo, a training session, or any other piece of content that may be best delivered in video format is as easy as storing a slide deck on a file repository. The difference is that videos tend to be less boring than slide decks and, therefore, more effective.
Thanks to Polycom for bringing this to market. We're very pleased to be associated with such a fine company and we're looking forward to working with them even more closely in the future.
Please join Karl LaWall, Worldwide Sales Leader for Unified Communications and Collaboration Software, at 12noon ET on August 24 for a free webcast (registration required), "Putting social to action with Sametime". Karl will demonstrate live the latest capabilities of Sametime 8.5.2. See how these latest capabilities can help you become a more social business: find and connect with experts more quickly, speed decision-making, and improve productivity, while lowering telephone costs, travel costs and total cost of ownership.
I've seen Karl do lots of these live demos using our free Greenhouse service. His sessions are always very interactive and engaging. I highly recommend it.
Yesterday, Marlon blogged about SOME of our iOS news for Sametime –the client on iPhones and iPads. As a Mac aficionado / albeit late* but happy member of the Apple fold I was personally most excited about this. And if you read further in my note you will find something else very exciting for iPad and Sametime users. And yes my Google Android friends, there is something new for you too! Although I'm in love w/ my Mac and iPhone and truly am most excited about ST and SUT on the iPhone, I would like to also summarize some of the other great features that came out with this release for everyone on November 22nd. Some of these features folks are even more excited about then the iOS Client!!?? Many many across the world were eagerly awaiting and requesting...(can you hear the drum roll)?
….You've seen some great posts from our engineer and end user help writer Lauren with details on how to use these features but here they are again....in one long blog...post our mobile press release yesterday.
BRAND NEW to Sametime you can now send offline messages from your Sametime chat window and view offline messages sent to you when you log in. (Even iOS and Anrdoid users can receive offline messages on their devices! Yes I am throwing more Apple in). Also, received offline message text will be included in chat responses so that it is very easy and quick to see the context of the response.
Our development and design team created a great UI for enhanced file sharing features. You can now send files, groups of files, or entire folders to another Sametime user. Or in a multi-way chat, you can send the same file to several people at once, and see the progression independently still. They also built a brand new organizational tree viewof your corporate directory based contacts.
And for the Administrator, of course there are policy controls and server settings for offline messaging, file and folder sharing.
No, we didn't forget meetings!
There are new Meeting room features for both the rich client and the browser based desktop meeting experience. This includes an Active Speaker indicator in the meeting room which will quickly and clearly let you know who is speaking. Don't guess who is speaking and no need to ping your boss or co-worker saying "who just said that"? Also when launching your meeting room, owners now have the flexibility to decide whether their room is video enabled or just keep the selected default setting.
And this one is really great - upon opening an Audio Video meeting, meeting room owners can now start a meeting with all participants on Auto-Mute . Participants will join in a muted state and can optionally disable mute themselves. Now we don't have to say - can everyone please go on mute?
And speaking of meetings...back to iOS and Android...I promised there was one more thing...on your Android tablets and Apple iPads you can now also participate in, create, and lead browser based meetings.
A picture is worth a thousand words so we brought you images yesterday of the new client in Marlon's post, but for those that like to also read a bulleted list –here is what is in store for you with the new client:
New native client for Sametime for Apple iPhone and iPad mobile devices includes:
o Presence and instant messaging so you can:
Participate in individual or group chat
Take and receive photos from the chat window or send from your photo library
Get Background notification of new messages
Leverage Quickfind to locate a contact and initiate communication
Send and receive announcements
Create customized presence status
o Chat history that is retrievable and also appears in active chat windows
o Ability to add new individual contacts or groups to your contact list
o A business card view from which you can directly:
Send a chat to an individual or group
Send an announcement to an individual or group
Add or remove individual from your Sametime contact and or favorites list
Add individual contact information or everyone's contact information in a group at once to your Apple device contact list
Edit the contact or personal group nickname
o Application preference management from the Apple iPhone and iPad device settings
A dialer providing additional mobile telephony capabilities for licensed Sametime Unified Telephony users :
o Place a Sametime Unified Telephony call directly from the dialpad or by selecting a Sametime contact. Telephony presence is reflected to Sametime desktop users
o Launch a call directly from a contact's business card. The contact's business card may provide alternative numbers to tap and call.
o Leverage Quickfind to locate a contact and initiate communication by name or phone number.
o Receive incoming Sametime Unified Telephony calls.
o Have your unified phone number appear as the caller ID when initiating calls with the mobile client.
o Set the preferred device for incoming Sametime Unified Telephony calls.
And just one more Apple thing I have to mention...LION is supported.
For more information and more features then I mentioned, please see our announcement links below and more importantly upgrade so you can use them. We are really excited to be able to bring you all these new great features this year versus waiting for next year. Enjoy!!! It is great managing a product you actually get to use all day every day. Now if I can just get my daughter to let me borrow her iPad so I can join my next meeting on it instead of my Mac...
SUT and more details on the dialer in the new iOS client:
Now that Lotusphere 2012 is history it's time to take a look at what people are saying about it. Before most of us had even made it home from Orlando, the analyst community was already gearing up to comment on what they heard at Lotusphere. So far, the comments have been positive and encouraging. Here's a few that I found interesting:
Let's start with Frost and Sullivan. Rob Arnold's piece has an attention-grabbing title: Is IBM Backing Away from UC? The answer, of course, is no, and Rob gets to that conclusion very quickly when he states that
Leveraging a greater breadth and depth of its strengths, IBM is now
placing the bulk of its emphasis on social business. For IBM, UC has
become a component or a subset of capabilities within social business
environments. Sametime’s IM and presence applications are powering rich
communications, mobile and real-time capabilities within IBM’s flagship
next-gen collaboration platform, Connections.
This is an important acknowledgement. We've been saying for a long time that social interaction patterns provide the natural context for people-to-people interactions; that we've been using them ever since humans learned to communicate verbally and that it's only natural that we should leverage their effectiveness in the enterprise. Integrating real-time communication channels (UC) into our social software is the way to do it.
Art Rosenberg writes in the UC Strategies Blog about the meaning of "Social Business" in What's in a Name? "UC", "Lync" and now "Social Business". The piece emphasizes the UC-enabled nature of our Social Business offerings as a leap forward in the evolution of UC.
Art actually makes that point one more time in a comment on Marty Parker's piece on the UC Strategies Blog: IBM Lotusphere 2012 - Socializing 'Social Business'. Marty provides a thorough report of the conference and highlights the main takeaways of our Social Business message: Reach, Engage, Discover, Act.
All three pieces hit the mark on identifying and highlighting the message we wanted to convey at Lotusphere 2012. I would, however, emphasize that the Reach, Engage, Discover, Act mantra works precisely because UC is an integral part of it. I would argue that, when put in this particular context, the term UC actually falls short and it may be time to come up with some other term that reflects the new normal more appropriately. We're already working on it.
Yesterday, Apple introduced the new iPhone 4 and iOS 4 (the new name for the iPhoneOS). I'm an iPhone user (white 16GB 3G) and am really looking forward to the new enhancements. For a long time I've used Traveler for push email and calendar access and the Sametime iPhone browser client for chat services (part of Sametime 8.5). (And with iOS 4's new background services, my product managers are already tired of me asking for Sametime Unified Telephony on the device.)
Even so, I don't think I'll be upgrading. The reason.... I really want an iPad.
I can hear some of my favorite customers groaning from here. "An iPad??? It's just a big iPhone / iPod Touch!" Yes, it is. I actually think that's a bit of brilliant marketing on the part of Apple. What was an iPod? Your music in your pocket. How about the iPhone - before apps and the web? Your iPod and phone in one device. Each new Apple product is very simple and easy to understand (a big iPhone). That makes them easy to buy... which is a lesson many in the technology industry have yet to learn.
I won't get into the benefits of the larger screen for reading content
(like research reports over Sunday breakfast) or watching movies
(keeping the kids calm on the airplane)... other to say that it makes
participating in Sametime Online Meetings a breeze from anywhere (pictured on the left).
From a business person's perspective - especially one who travels -
the iPad is just about spot on. What are the things I'm likely to need
on the road? Email? Web? Minor edits / reworks to presentations?
Entertainment? Easy to carry? Long battery life? Location services?
Access to content on the road? All there. And let me stress that last
one. There is nothing like tapping iTunes over wi-fi in the airport for a
couple of movies to make the return trip across the country a
bit more bearable.
The iPad does still need a couple of things to be perfect. First, is multi-tasking. The larger screen size almost demands it and Apple says it will be available in the fall. The other is Symphony / Open Office editors and viewers. Without ODP support, my laptop is still required.
So I'm curious where the iPad & iPhone fit into your plans. Will you be getting a new iPhone? An iPad? And if anyone has a suggestion for ODP support, that would be great, too!
Have you ever wanted to send a chat to one of your Sametime contacts who is not online or has an availability status of Do Not Disturb? Well, now you can with the new "offline messaging" capabilities of Sametime 8.5.2 Interim Feature Release 1.
If you have Sametime Advanced, you can double-click or right-click an offline contact or a contact whose status is set to Do Not Disturb to send them a chat. Or, you can continue an existing chat even when your chat partner goes offline or sets their status to Do Not Disturb.
When your chat partner logs on again or changes their status from Do Not Disturb, they see any messages sent to them while they were unavailable.
If someone sends you an offline message, you'll see an alert when you become available, just as you will with a regular chat. The offline messages show up in their own window, so they're easy to find. You can also open the offline message viewer anytime with the File>View Offline Messages menu. The offline messages viewer looks like this:
You can send offline messages to people who have older Sametime Connect,
browser, and mobile clients. Only people who have the 8.5.2 Interim Feature Release 1 client
can send messages as well as view them in the new offline messages viewer. (Other users will see offline messages in a standard chat window.)
Administrators must set the "Allow user to send offline messages" policy to turn on this feature.