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.
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.
It's not over yet ! Jacques might be done touring Caleb around but there are more IBM Sametime 8.5.2 webcasts to come from the Get Social Roadshow and Lotus Greenhouse webcasts series of events!
May 24th, 2011 (Tuesday) : It's Video-riffic, Sametime 8.5.2; Register for free here , brought to you by LotusUserGroup.org
Come join me to hear more about our amazing new capabilities in IBM Sametime 8.5.2, including new native and third-party audio and video in browser-based online meetings, Standard-based Network Address Translation (NAT) support and Firewall traversal for Audio & Video, a new Bandwidth Manager to protect the network by managing all of this audio and video usage, support for dual Telephone Conferencing Service Provider Interface (TCSPI) adapters, new mobile options, and a new telephony licensing option to connected to audio and video endpoints. Join this webcast to learn more about our exciting new capabilities that will strengthen your leadership position in the market and enable a nimble, engaged, and transparent Social Business.
May 26th (Thursday) : Sametime Mobile Strategy and Solutions; Join here brought to you by Lotus Greenhouse Series Join Robert Ingram, Mobile Strategy Product Manager, where you will learn more about Sametime Mobile 8.5.2 offerings and strategy. This popular topic will be discussed on May 26, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST.
May 31, 2011 (Next Tuesday): IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony: Today and Tomorrow ; Register for free here, brought to you by LotusUserGroup.org While you are registering for "It's Video-riffic" be sure to register at the very same time (no pun intended) for IBM Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony: Today and Tomorrow where David Marshak, UC2 Senior Strategist, and Tracee Wolf, UC2 Product Designer, provide more in depth coverage of Sametime Unified Telephony and our new licensing option SUT Lite Client. This exciting and highly requested discussion topic will take place on May 31, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST.
See you there!
Recap of this past Wednesday in case you missed it, be sure to catch the replays :
Replay of the main Social Launch event w/ Alistair, Jeff, and Caleb is available on ibm.com/social Replay of Caleb's webcast, Honing Your Social Antenna: Improve Effectiveness and Reduce Costs by Becoming a More Social Business is available on TheBrainYard (http://tinyurl.com/65c)
Replay of Lisa's podcast, What’s New in Sametime 8.5.2 on May 18th! hosted by idoNotes with Chris Miller of Connectria, Gabriella Davis of the Turtle Partnership, Carl Tyler of Epilio, David Marshak of IBM, and Lisa Harris of IBM, will be available on IdoNotes http://idonot.es/NewST852 Replay of Jeff Schick's with Plantronics at their BIG Launch replay is available at Plantronics.com/launch
If you are working with colleagues, partners, or customers, (or all of the above) who speak another language, I suspect you could have benefited from a tool that provides real-time translation of your chat conversations. This is obvious if you are a non-English speaker (trust me..) and either wanted to speed up the IM conversation (typing in a foreign language does take much more time) or wanted to improve the quality and depth of the conversation... (one liners take you so far). Even if you are a native English speaker, this can be helpful at times, to make sure that there is no ambiguity in the collaboration. Yes, you can use free Web-based translation tools but this is not very practical (ongoing copy/paste, multiple windows, etc.), generates a lower quality translation (especially for business and industry content), and puts confidential content into someone else's Web site.
So wait no further... On May 18th (so many things happening on that day !) LionBridge will launch GeoFluent Instant Messaging for Sametime, a SaaS-based solution for real-time translation of chats. You type, they translate, and the chat participants see the results, real-time. This service is based on IBM technology (Watson Research Labs) with years of research going into it.
And if you don't interact today with individuals from another culture and language, you soon will... So you should still listen to this podcast, and get ready.
Every so often I am asked why I blog about changes in the Sametime Product Management team. I think it's important that our customers and partners know who we are and how to connect with us. IBM is a big organization and finding the right people isn't always as straightforward as it could be. So, with that, let me introduce you to some new folks and outline new roles for a few of the old hands.
Julie Reed takes over as Product Manager for
Sametime Unified Telephony and all voice and video in
Sametime Standard / Advanced. Julie joins us from the IBM Mid Market organization where she ran the Smart Business offering team. Previously, she spent six years as Director of Development for Genesys Conferencing and held leadership positions in the development organizations of Nitix and Lotus Foundations. You can reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at keegers.
Marc Pagnier is our new Offering Manager for Sametime Cloud Solutions. He'll be
responsible for accelerating Sametime's progression into the cloud -
LotusLive, IBM GTS and Partner-hosted private clouds, and service
providers. Marc also came to us from the Smart Business team where he drove appliance solutions around IBM Cognos and hybrid (on-premises / cloud) collaboration solutions. Before that, he had been a Senior Product Manager on the IBM Connections and Quickr teams. Marc's email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his Twitter ID is mpagnier.
Many of you already know Marlon Machado, a frequent blogger here over the last two years. In January, Marlon took over as Product Manager for the core Sametime portfolio - Entry Standard and Advanced. In addition to his PM role, he'll still have a hand in driving UC capabilities into other IBM offerings (Websphere BPM, Cognos, etc) and Smarter Planet solutions. His contact information is: email@example.com and clevershutter on Twitter.
Lisa Harris joined us 7 months ago as the Sametime Offering Manager. She owns Sametime pricing, packaging, licensing and most of the "business end" of product management for the on-premises portfolio. A note to IBM sellers...if you think you could sell that much more Sametime if we only changed the [fill in the blank]... talk to Lisa. :-) Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow her on Twitter at ld_harris.
David Marshak, the former Product Manager for both Sametime and Sametime Unified Telephony (ie: the guy who knows where all the bodies are really buried), is now our Senior Strategist. While the rest of us are focused on driving the next release, David will be mapping out where we need to be in 3-5 years and how to get there. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: davidmarshak.
You may have noticed that I left Rob Ingram off the roster. Rob has taken on a new challenge for IBM, driving mobile strategy for all of Lotus/ICS. Given the importance of mobility to unified communications, we still talk to him on a practically daily basis... so he's not far.
Please welcome Julie and Marc and don't hesitate to contact any of us.
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.
A great post in today's Building a Smarter Planet Blog on the use of Sametime and IBM Business Partner UnifiedEdge to help develop a smarter, more social emergency response center.:
To help better protect its citizens, the City of Fort Worth in 2008 began efforts to build a new Joint Emergency Operations Center (JEOC) facility with their Tarrant County emergency management counterparts.
UnifiedEdge’s RadioConnect™ solution, delivered as a plug-in inside of IBM’s 8.5.1 Sametime, delivers a multi-channel toolset that enables JEOC personnel to work with communication features as needed.
I just wanted to let you know that we have a podcast planned for this Friday (5/27) at 10:00am EST with our friends at Sennheiser. Caleb Barlow will interview Lars Rasmussen about the importance of using quality headsets for unified communications.
Please join us as http://www.blogtalkradio.com/unifiedcommunications
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.
We are less than 24 hours away from our big launch event at noon tomorrow!! The excitement is building. I hope your calendars are blocked because we start off at 10am with Jeff Schick and Caleb Barlow joining our Business Partner, Plantronics, in their big launch event in New York City which also continues their 50th anniversary celebration coinciding with our Centennial. And we go all the way until 3pm EST.
Here is we have planned :
10 AM EST - Plantronics Launch Event with Jeff Schick and Caleb Barlow as guests, live from NYSE - Join at : http://links.mkt345.com/servlet/MailView?ms=MzkyNjgzOQS2&r=MTcxODkxOTE1MDkS1&j=MjMyODQzMDUxS0&mt=1&rt=0
11 AM EST - In between the big launch announcement from Plantronics and IBM, catch the 'pre - game' IBM Launch day show - an IdoNotes Podcast with Chris Miller from Connectria, Carl Tyler of Epilio, Gabriela Davis of Turtle Partnership and myself, Lisa Harris, Sametime Offering Manager. - Join at: http://idonot.es/k0USbi
12 PM EST - THE BIG ONE !! Livestream from NYC !!! Join Alistair Rennie, General Manager of IBM Collaboration Solutions , Jeff Schick, VP IBM Collaboration Solutions, and Caleb Barlow, Executive Director of Unified Communications and Collaboration - You do NOT want to miss this. Hear our big announcements first hand live - Join at : www.ibm.com/social
And continuing the big launch - be sure to join Caleb - 2 PM EST - WEBCAST WITH CALEB BARLOW - Honing Your Social Antenna: Improve Effectiveness and Reduce Costs by Becoming a More Social Business Register now at https://www.techwebonlineevents.com/ars/eventregistration.do?mode=eventreg&F=1003151&K=MAA5 Join here : http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=310170&s=1&k=7B7F3E35ECAF7A1DE24B099FE6ECD4C6 - Login with your email you used for registration