IBM Turns to Siemens for Help in Taking On New Microsoft Tools

IBM last week announced that it will license parts of Siemens AGs OpenScape software to add unified communications capabilities to its Sametime instant messaging and webconferencing software.

The companies did not disclose the value of the deal, which was announced at the VoiceCon conference in San Francisco.

Analysts said the move is an effort by IBM to bring Sametime, part of its Lotus Notes messaging and collaboration suite, up to par with Microsoft Corp.s Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007, which is slated to ship on Oct. 16.

VoiceCon

2007 VoiceCon Conference This sets IBM up to be a more credible player in unified communications, said Barry Marks, an analyst at IntelliCom Analytics LLC in Union, N.J. This is something that Sametime needed.

OpenScape will let Sametime users manage communications across multiple telephone technologies, including cellular and voice over IP. It also will allow users to access calls through most applications, IBM said.

Chris Miller, director of messaging and collaboration at Connectria Corp., a managed IT services company in St. Louis, said the added support for VoIP technology could cut costs significantly for corporate users. Connectria sells and supports Sametime and is also a Sametime user.

Miller noted that Sametime currently has plug-ins that can add some OpenScape capabilities but IT administrators must monitor and maintain them.

OCS 2007 will let companies set up VoIP phone systems and manage corporate instant messaging, e-mail and videoconferencing on a single IP network. Microsoft announced at the conference that it will offer OCS as a hosted service at an undisclosed future date.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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