Lotus Expands Sametime Unified Communications Apps


Lotus also announced that it's expanding its OEM relationships with Cisco and Nortel for Sametime and signed up Carestream Health as a new reseller.

Lotus has been steadily building up Sametime's capabilities since it debuted 10 years ago as a corporate instant messaging and Web conferencing system. Today the company refers to the product as a unified communications and collaboration system. Lotus even celebrated the software's 10th birthday during a Lotusphere press conference Tuesday with a cake and Bruce Morse, Lotus vice president of unified communications, donning a silly party hat.

Morse said that in 2007 nearly one-third of new Lotus Sametime customers were Microsoft Exchange shops.

Lotus Sametime Advanced offers tools that the company says will make it easier to quickly locate people with specific expertise or information and create new communities and contact lists. An employee could broadcast a request for someone who speaks a foreign language, for example, or poll co-workers on the best time for a meeting. A persistent chat feature lets users keep a continuous chat session running on a specific topic within a community such as a project team, said Adam Gartenberg, a Lotus senior offering manager for unified communications.

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Lotus Sametime Unified Telephony is targeted at companies with mixed telephony and PBX environments. It lets users manage phone calls from within Sametime, including establishing rules for handling calls such as which calls should be routed to another employee if the person is on the phone or route all calls to a cell phone when the person's calendar shows they are in a meeting. The software works with a broad range of PBX systems, Lotus said.

Sametime Unified Telephony could provide opportunities for systems integrators and channel partners with expertise in both telephony and desktop applications, said Kathleen Cooke, a Lotus offering manager for unified communications.

Both new products, which are built as add-ons to the core Sametime software, are expected to ship around the middle of this year.

In the partner deals, Lotus announced that Cisco would sell Sametime directly as part of its unified communications portfolio and through its Unified Communications Advanced Specialized partner channel. Nortel also will integrate and sell Sametime as part of its enterprise unified communications solutions.

And Carestream Health, which provides imaging technology to hospital radiology departments, will integrate and sell Sametime as part of its radiology solutions, providing instant messaging and VoIP communications between radiologists and other medical professionals.