VoiceCon: Cisco, IBM Bring Video Calls To Lotus Sametime

"We are working together to create an open environment that allows [communications] applications to be deeply integrated into the desktop," said Charlie Giancarlo, senior vice president and chief development officer at Cisco, in a keynote address at VoiceCon Spring 2007. The conference, which runs this week in Orlando, Fla., , is held by CMP Technology, the publisher of CRN and ChannelWeb.

Technology partnerships have become a key theme of the show. Microsoft on Wednesday said it's releasing an interoperability specification for IP-PBX vendors that want to tie in to its Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 client software. Several VoIP vendors in turn have been touting their relationships with Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Avaya and Lenovo on Tuesday teamed up to bring VoIP capabilities to some ThinkPad laptops.

Cisco and IBM are using open standards like Eclipse and OSGi to foster application development on what they're calling their UC2 (unified communications and collaboration) Client Platform, scheduled for availability in the second half. IBM is contributing open APIs for some Lotus Sametime collaboration capabilities built on its Lotus Expeditor, which contains Eclipse and OSGI. Cisco is offering APIs to access communications functionality such as voice and video services.

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An on-stage demonstration showing the creation of one-click videoconference calls, powered by integration of IBM's Lotus Sametime and Cisco's IP communications technology, drew applause from the VoiceCon crowd.

The demo also included mashups between Cisco's Unified Personal Communicator with Google Earth that allowed users to map out locations of people or resources, such as the nearest Cisco TelePresence high-definition videoconferencing room.

Giancarlo said unified communications, collaboration and mobility are becoming essential IT services. "If you think about it, it's becoming a global workplace. We're going from 24 time zones to one time zone -- real time," he said.

In addition, Giancarlo touted the strength of Cisco's video portfolio, particularly the TelePresence line launched last year. He said the high-cost systems are paying for themselves by enabling customers to reduce travel costs and speed sales cycles. He also said the technology will be moving downstream.

"Within the next few years, we'll have similar technology at home," he said.