I was in Dallas last Thursday attending the All-Hazards 2012 Summit with our friends from UnifiedEdge and I was told that they were getting ready to put out a press release with our colleagues from the Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities team. We were so busy that I forgot to ask what the press release was all about. Well, it just came out today and it's pretty exciting.
The City of Davao in the Philippines will "... scale-up its existing Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) by integrating city operations into a single system ..." That system is IOC along with IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge RadioConnect and other key technologies.
This is pretty cool. The PSSCC will provide first responders and city personnel with state-of-the-art situational awareness: GIS, GPS, real-time video feeds, presence and live communication channels (phones, radios, IM, video, etc.) powered by IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge RadioConnect.
Congratulations to the IOC team and to our partners at UnifiedEdge. This is an exciting project. Davao is the second largest city in the Philippines behind Metro Manila. According to the 2012 census it has a population of over 1.5 million people and it's the 87th fastest-growing city in the world according to the City Mayors Foundation.
You can find the full press release here to learn more.
The Sametime User Experience team is conducting an online survey on Sametime Mobile regarding "Top Tasks for Chat". If you're a Sametime Mobile user we'd love to hear your opinion on what features and usage patterns are important to you when using Sametime Mobile.
Completing the survey takes just a few minutes and your input will be invaluable to us--especially as we continue structuring the plan for our next release. So,if you have a few minutes to spare, please take a look at the survey and let us know what you think. You can find it here: https://www-950.ibm.com/survey/oid/wsb.dll/s/ag470
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.
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
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:
Y'all (I have to use it here...) may be already familiar with the project our business partner UnifiedEdge has been working on at The City of Fort Worth, Texas. The project is all about outfitting the Joint Emergency Operations Center serving Fort Worth and surrounding Tarrant County with a social communications infrastructure to enable rapid responses to natural disasters and other emergency events in the area. The infrastructure includes IBM Sametime and UnifiedEdge RadioConnect for Sametime.
The story was released as a public reference yesterday. It's a great story that describes a powerful solution that addresses a complex problem in a very elegant way. The benefits are such that you only notice them when they're not there: the solution helps people make better, more informed, wiser decisions in situations when you have to think fast and respond quickly. Check it out if have time. It's an interesting read. You can find ithere.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.