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Eye on the unified communications market: IBM

This month we're profiling IBM -- taking a look at the company's business model and how it may fit into your unified communications strategy.

Each month, SearchUnifiedCommunications.com profiles a key unified communications (UC) vendor to help you better understand the company's business model and how it may fit into your UC strategy. This month, we're profiling IBM.

IBM brings together its software platform, technical and business consulting services, server hardware and an extended ecosystem of partners to deliver an end-to-end solution it calls Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC²). According to IBM, this is "the deep intelligent integration of rich presence, instant messaging, email, unified messaging, telephony, Web, audio and video conferencing, delivered through a unified user experience and/or available as a set of contextual services which can be accessed and choreographed within an application or business process."

IBM tackles UC with a best-of-breed approach, enabling partners and third parties to integrate and add on to its open and extensible platform, which leverages the Eclipse open-source framework.

IBM Lotus Sametime is IBM's software platform for unified communications and collaboration, providing:

  • A unified user experience for services such as aggregated presence, instant messaging, Web conferencing, VoIP, video and incoming call control.
  • An integration middleware server for simplifying the integration of multi-vendor, multi-technology telephony systems.
  • An open plug-in model for adding third-party services such as telephony, audio/video conferencing, unified messaging and business applications.

Capabilities include voice chat, dynamic location awareness, the ability to integrate to a Microsoft Outlook environment, multi-platform support, mobile clients, and federation with public IM networks. Call control or telephony capabilities are offered via connections to telephone providers through a variety of partnerships with companies including 3Com, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel and Siemens, with more on the way. In addition, Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony, providing integration with a large number of switches, offers this capability directly as part of the IBM Lotus Sametime product family.

In addition to the switch vendors, IBM is working with a wide variety of vendors across a number of categories, including: Tandberg, Polycom, Radvision, and Avistar for video; Premiere and Intercall for hosted audio; and RIM for mobile capabilities.

About the author: Blair Pleasant is president and principal analyst with COMMfusion. She provides consulting and market research analysis on voice/data convergence markets and technologies, aimed at helping end-user and vendor clients both strategically and tactically. Prior to COMMfusion, Ms. Pleasant was director of communications analysis for The PELORUS Group, a market research and consulting firm, and president of Lower Falls Consulting.

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