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 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.
We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of the new Sametime 8.5 Enterprise Scale Deployment Redbook. It provides a best practice framework for medium to large enterprise-scale
deployment of Sametime 8.5.1. This Redbook covers a range of business
collaboration requirements that typically can be found within many large
enterprises with geographically dispersed user communities and diverse
business requirements for real-time collaboration.
You can access the Redbook through the link below. A printable PDF version will be available soon.
We are pleased to announce (ok... re-announce) the availability of
Sametime Standard 8.5.1 and Sametime Unified Telephony 8.5. We
appreciate everyone's patience while we resolved a late breaking issue
in the release process. You should be able to download the new software
from Passport Advantage and PartnerWorld today, August 4th.
On Tuesday, IBM announced that Sametime 8.5.1 would be generally available (GA) for customers and partners to install today. Unfortunately, we identified an issue during the build process and have opted to delay the GA release by up to two weeks.
We understand that some Sametime customers will be impacted by this delay and apologize for the inconvenience but IBM takes product quality very seriously. We will use the SametimeBlog to provide updates if anything changes. If you have any questions, by all means don't hesitate to contact one of us here on the blog, or your IBM Sales Representative.
FaceTime just announced their new Vantage platform, the successor to IMAuditor. Vantage includes a number of new capabilities for Sametime users, including:
Support for Sametime 8.5
A new connector deployment option for Sametime
Sametime announcement logging and auditing
File transfers from Blackberry devices to Sametime can now be captured and scanned for viruses and content violations
Support for importing group chat from Sametime advanced
Compliance disclaimers, ethical walls, archiving and auditing for Sametime
The Vantage policy framework allows granular policies to be defined between groups of employees and for communications with non-employees through federation and external connections. Vantage enables the management of users outside of the organization through expanded inter-group policies, domain-based groups or through the concept of registered non-employees – protecting and restricting communications by employees with unregistered individuals.
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."
Known problems are documented in the form of individual technotes in the Support knowledge base at http://www.ibm.com/software/lotus/support. As problems are discovered and resolved, the IBM Support team updates the knowledge base. By searching the knowledge base, you can quickly find work-arounds or solutions to problems.
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.
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.
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.
If you're not familiar with Greenhouse, it's a live community where you can use Lotus Collaboration products for free. And now it features the first public beta of Sametime 8.5 Online Meetings. You've seen the tweets from members of the private beta... and now you can see what all the buzz is about!
"Sametime 8.5 Meetings are an entirely new way to collaborate with others online. They are incredibly easy to use. Fully integrated into the Connect client you already use for chat, they make it simple to join a meeting with a single click; invite others by dragging their names from the contact list; upload materials via drag and drop; even share your screen from the Macintosh operating system. Of course, not everyone can participate via a Sametime Connect client, so 8.5 includes a zero-download, firewall friendly browser client as well.
Sametime Meetings are different. Meeting rooms are reservationless and don't need to be scheduled. They can be instantly created and linked to calendar invitations from Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook. Sametime Meeting Rooms can also be persistent. You can use the same room over and over for regular meetings and keep frequently used materials on hand during the course of the project...."
Greenhouse will be updated with additional capabilities that are part of the 8.5 release over the next month or so. Come on over and tell us what you think!